Emery County plays a role in new Star Trek flick
Emery County scenery is part of the new Star Trek movie. This 2009 production is the 11th in the major movie productions based upon the TV series, Star Trek which ran for three seasons from 1966-1969.
Paramount was in the county in May 2008 for five days. Emery County Economic Development Director Mike McCandless said, "I first began working with the film scout in November of 2007. They thought they were coming in December, but that changed to April and then we had a cold spring so they finally made it out in May of last year. They filmed just off of I-70. They needed good weather to get their resources here as they flew a helicopter from California to do the filming and they could only do that on appropriate weather days. Everything was top secret with the movie. I didn't know the name of the movie until a week before they arrived. They had us sworn to secrecy and I even had to sign papers that I wouldn't say anything about the movie title. If Star Trek fans found out a portion of the film was being filmed here, then they will arrive on the scene and it makes filming much more difficult. So they try to keep locations under wrap as much as they can.
"Corporate Headquarters" was the code word they had us use for the film. There was really tight security. Having the film crew here was really good for the county. I estimate they spent $100,000 while they were here that week. That's what was spent in the county on renting the Green River airport, county security, motel rooms, portable bathrooms, and food service. They also spent approximately that much outside the county having everything brought in they needed for their stay. They went through an amazing amount of food and bottled water. They filmed and shot still shots from 6 a.m. through midnight.
"This was a very professional organization and very detail oriented. I learned something new with this film. They have a nurse that travels with them on the film set. She is a licensed nurse and every movie set has to have a licensed medical professional on set. So she goes with the film crews and bandages people up if they need it. That's her only job, she just travels with film crews.
"Everyone has very specific jobs. One man, his job was to load the film in the camera. Everyone knows their responsibility.
"There were two crews filming. One was up in the helicopter getting the aerial shots and the other worked on getting still photography to use in backgrounds. We didn't have any actors here in Emery County. Everything shot was just for background and scenery in the shots. The actors were filming at Vasquez Rock in California and their scenes were merged with the background shots from Emery County.
"The still photography shots were for the scenes involving the planet Vulcan. They were digitally inserted into the movie.
"Star Trek has such a loyal following that security was very tight. Our sheriff's office had deputies on duty and the film company paid for their overtime. Sequels are harder to do, so that's why they pay such attention to security.
"I have been working closely with the Utah Film Commission on leads. In August of this year we have a TV series coming to the county. This past year we had two television shows, three commercials and the Star Trek movie here. Some scenes from films are shot here without direct involvement from the county. But, the county needs to be involved in the permitting process for productions. But, sometimes that doesn't happen and they try to get in and out fast before we know they are here. Last year there was an HBO pilot shot on the Green River.
"We work really hard for the film companies and help them through the steps involved. We try to have them shoot on SITLA property whenever possible because the permitting on SITLA lands is less complex than trying to get permitted to film on BLM lands. The film companies will pay the fees for the environmental impact studies involved.
"When trying to put together the commercial for Lockheed we were working with the BLM but it just wasn't moving and then we found a location on SITLA land and had the whole thing put together in a week. They were here for three days and stayed local and spent between $50,000-$100,000; they hired a caterer from Salt Lake who purchased everything she needed locally. They wanted a place that looked just like Mars so we found them a spot just outside of Ferron. We try to make things as easy for the film companies as possible. Our knowledge of the area and the scenic spots really help out. They describe what they want and we try to find them what they need.
"Any filming in our area is a valuable advertising opportunity for our county. You just can't afford to pay for the advertising that these companies bring to our area. People who are interested dig into and investigate where these films are shot and like to go visit there. Sixteen years ago a movie called Galaxy Quest was shot in Goblin Valley and 16 years later, we still get inquiries from people who want to go see where that was filmed. You just can't buy that much advertising. There was also a music video by the Killers shot in Goblin Valley. Several car companies have used our canyons for commercials.
"The fact that movies are shot in our county gives us one more talking point to promote at the trade shows we attend each year. It's just one more thing to promote our area.
"We act as the facilitator for the filming event. The Star Trek crew was just fantastic, they were very professional and did a first class job.
"Having a first class film crew here, just adds to our chances of getting another filming event. It gives us some high quality leads. People in the industry talk and our county will be part of the mix when it comes to locations. We have had very positive comments from the Star Trek people on how we took such good care of them while they were here. This will work to our advantage in the future.
"These are nice opportunities for our local businesses to provide services for filming companies. They like all the amenities when they are here, even though they are in remote locations of our county. They expect internet services, they expect nice hotels, they are used to those things.
"Our county has made a conscious effort to get involved in the film industry. Back when I first started with the county I met with the Moab film commission for a couple of days to see what they were doing, they have been very successful with films in their area. We are closer than Moab, closer that St. George and Kanab. Our area is accessible. We have the amenities and are willing to make it work.
"This can be a real economic development opportunity as it grows," said McCandless.