Tom Smart, Deseret News
Actors Bresha Webb, Rodney To and Bianca Collins at the screening of "American Mall" at The Gateway plaza in Salt Lake City.

After viewing his musical movie creation "The American Mall," Bill Borden said he and director Jerry Spazek wished they had changed a few parts.

"There's always those parts," said Borden, who created "High School Musical."

But, Borden said, he's still dancing to the music.

The movie, set in a mall, is about teenagers in love and in debt. In other words, it's about experiences at a typical American mall.

Two screenings of the mall musical were shown at The Gateway in Salt Lake City this week. Members of the cast, dancers, extras and others involved with making the movie watched the 97-minute, made-for-TV movie on the big screen.

Bresha Webb, who plays "Penny," said the movie was what she expected and more.

"I was almost in tears when it came on," Webb said, "because I missed everyone so much."

Webb has done work for television previously, but it was her first time seeing herself on the big screen. Webb's character was sassy, spunky and addicted to clothes, much like she used to be, Webb said.

"I am Penny," Webb said. "I was so happy I got the role because I was literally being me with a little more energy. That was me at 18, no exaggeration."

"The American Mall" is Borden's ninth movie filmed in Utah. He is working on "High School Musical 3" and has plans to make a second "American Mall," with permission from Provo Towne Center, of course.

"One reason they chose our mall," PTC general manager Scott Hansen said, "was because we were most willing to work with them. You really have to be flexible."

Hansen said they knew it would be a challenge, but they wanted to overcome it.

"We wanted this," Hansen said. "We want to be known as a community-oriented mall and to have the notoriety for the future."

To cut down public interference, they chose to film during the mall's slowest time of the year — January.

"There was some perception that it hurt sales," Hansen said. "But it wasn't really that much. It was about people having an experience in the mall, not just shopping."

January in Utah is cold, but that didn't make a difference for the film crew since the entire movie was filmed inside the mall.

Chris Demuri, set designer for the movie, gave credit to the director and producer for some of the tricky "gags" he used to add a change of scenery.

"It's Salt Lake City with snow and it's 12 degrees outside," Demuri said. "We had bikinis and sunny beaches in the movie."

Utah Film Commission President Marshal Moore said he thought it was beautiful. He said the commission always pushes to get more movies filmed in Utah.

"It was nice, a fun story, lively and colorful," Moore said. "I saw quality filmmaking. It should be enjoyed by everyone."

The MTV movie "The American Mall" will air Monday, Aug. 11, at 10 p.m. and will repeat throughout the week. DVD and soundtrack will go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 12. Deseret News TV critic Scott Pierce's review will appear in Monday's newspaper and at deseretnews.com.


E-mail: MBennett@desnews.com