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Film incentives leading to increase in projects being shot on location in Colorado

Colorado's Film Commissioner says the number of projects they typically see shot in Colorado has doubled since state launched better film incentives.
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Posted at 10:03 PM, Mar 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-13 00:39:11-04

DENVER — There have been several major motion pictures that have been set somewhere in Colorado, but only a few have actually been shot here.

"The big sales pitch to almost everybody is rural Colorado. They almost always want to come to the mountains, the foothills, to old old towns and picturesque places," said Donald Zuckerman, Colorado's Film Commissioner whose responsibilities include helping recruit projects to be shot in our state.

There are classics like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation filmed in Summit County and the iconic exteriors of The Stanley hotel in Estes Park for The Shining. More recently, Furious 7 and Our Souls at Night both shot scenes in Colorado Springs, but big name films shot in Colorado have been few and far between.

"It's been a little difficult," said Zuckerman, "but this past year has been a banner year for us, 27 projects in production or have been made."

It's about twice as many as they usually see, one of the biggest being filmed in Colorado right now.

"The biggest project is George Nolfi's Elevation. It's a $20 million-plus picture. We're hopeful that this movie is going to be a big hit and it's all in the mountains of Colorado," said Zuckerman.

He said the increase in projects is thanks mainly to Colorado's film incentives. Whether it's movies, TV shows, music videos or video games, if it's shot in Colorado, the state offers a 20% rebate on project expenses. The Office of Film, Television and Media said the cost is worth the investment.

"Hundreds of people work. A lot of money gets spent in Colorado and the state, and communities collect a lot of money in taxes," said Zuckerman.

Another thing that could make Colorado more competitive, he said, is the amount of experienced industry professionals who already live here.

"We require an out-of-state company that comes here to hire at least 50% Colorado citizen residents. So we need to have those people here," said Zuckerman, "We are surrounded by states that have substantially more incentive money, and they have a lot deeper crew bases, but we are working on it," he said.

According to the Office of Film, TV and Media, film incentives have generated $116.6 million in economic impact to more than 50 counties and created 3,700 cast and crew jobs since it's inception.