Our View: Reel strategy deserves support

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If you were watching the X Games on TV this weekend, you might have seen images of a shiny blue Jeep careening through Steamboat Springs’ signature Champagne powder and a glimpse of Catamount Ranch & Club’s Heritage Cabin. Those scenes, which also included sweeping shots of the mountains surrounding our gorgeous valley, were all part of a new Jeep Wrangler commercial filmed in Steamboat last month.

At issue

The Steamboat Springs Film Committee is embarking on a more aggressive approach to marketing Steamboat as a prime film location.

Our view

The committee’s efforts can have a positive economic impact on the area and deserve more funding and support.

Steamboat Today editorial board — January to April 2014

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Karl Gills, community representative
  • Will Melton, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

The commercial is one example of the projects the newly re-energized Steamboat Springs Film Committee is trying to lure here for the economic impact these productions can have on the local economy, plus the capacity they have to market the area to a national and international audience of potential visitors.

Nikki Inglis, public relations manager for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said the Jeep commercial involved a production crew of about 60 people who “made an economic impact” on Steamboat during their stay through lodging, permit fees, catering and the purchase of other services.

According to Chris Sias, current chairperson of the Steamboat Springs Film Committee, the group wants to embark on a more targeted and aggressive marketing campaign to sell Steamboat as a prime location for commercials, catalog shoots, still photography, television and feature films. He points to Steamboat’s diverse locations, which include mountain and Western settings as well as large interior spaces that are equally as impressive.

Other items on the committee’s wish list include:

■ Representation at industry and location trade shows.

■ A targeted marketing campaign aimed at a vetted list of likely producers.

■ Local incentives or credits for productions that spend more than $100,000 locally.

■ Prominent placement in state film commission materials.

■ Creation of a comprehensive list of local talent and resources in a formal production guide.

The film committee’s aspirations are bold and exciting, and provide another avenue for marketing Steamboat that we think is worth funding and supporting.

Formerly known as the Yampa Valley Film Board/Northwest Colorado Film Commission, the group’s activities have ebbed and flowed since its creation in 1990. The commission initially was funded by economic development monies from the city and state, but when the economy took a dive, that funding disappeared. Now, the committee’s operations fall under the umbrella of the Chamber, and funding remains a pressing need.

At the state level, the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media, which functions under the auspices of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, offers a 20 percent performance-based incentive, which includes rebates, location assistance and film permit costs, to spur content creation in Colorado. According to the office’s 2013 annual report, the program created 415 new full-time jobs and added $15,429,199 in economic activity through production. In all, $1,672,737 in incentives were awarded, which translates to $9.22 returned to the state’s economy for every $1 invested.

We would like to see that type of success replicated here, and we encourage the local film committee to seek any grants or partnerships that might be available through the state. We also urge the city to consider renewing its support for the group’s efforts, which could produce a big payoff in terms of increased sales tax, employment and exposure. The creation of an incentive program, similar to the state’s model, would be a great place to start.

The potential of Steamboat as a prime production location will be on display again Wednesday night when Steamboat’s own Cookie Lockhart and Don and Lesley Woodsmith appear on the History Channel’s popular “American Pickers” series. Stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz and their crew spent only two days in Steamboat, but the 30 minutes or so of air time that visit produced will give Steamboat Springs the kind of publicity that is priceless, and worth pursuing.

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