Mar 13, 2024 - News

Utah sees major spike in motion picture jobs

Illustration of multiple pairs of hands holding up a single film clapper board.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Utah's motion picture and sound recording sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the state, per a recent analysis.

The big picture: The boost comes as the Utah Film Commission celebrates 100 years of filmmaking in the Beehive State this year.

By the numbers: Jobs in that sector grew by nearly 36%, or 1,970 jobs, between 2021 and 2022, according to a report by the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

  • Overall, the state's cultural industry, which includes marketing, education, and entertainment sectors, grew year-over-year by 7.2%, generating almost $15 billion in direct spending in 2022.

State of play: The growth can be partly attributed to a 2022 law that provides tax incentives for film productions that spend at least 75% of their production days shooting in rural Utah, said Virginia Pearce, director of the Utah Film Commission.

  • Between fiscal years 2022-23, film productions spent about $93 million to film in rural parts of the state and another $118 million to film in urban areas, according to Pearce.
  • She said the tax incentive not only supported rural communities but helped propel Utah's profile as a filming destination.

What they're saying: "We just have vistas and iconic landscapes that really you can only find here and people recognize that we are kind of synonymous with the American West," she said.

  • Acclaimed films and TV shows shot here in recent years include, "Gravity," "Hereditary," and "Westworld."

Between the lines: Last year's Hollywood strikes "dampened" the number of movie industry jobs in the last half of 2023, Pearce noted.

Yes, but: "I do think that we continue to grow. We continue to see projects that are interested in filming here," she said.

The latest: Two upcoming productions — "The Stranger in My Home" and the Hallmark Channel's "Branching Out" — are slated to collectively spend an estimated $5.3 million in Utah, the Utah News Dispatch reports.

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