UPDATED: Producers Eye Telluride as Location for New Television Drama Series
by Samantha Wright
May 16, 2013 | 9384 views | 5 5 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A MAP of the Idarado Mine tailings, east of Telluride, where the production company is proposing to construct a temporary main street set approximately 350’-by-125’ in size. The specific area is located within the large rectangle. (Courtesy image)
A MAP of the Idarado Mine tailings, east of Telluride, where the production company is proposing to construct a temporary main street set approximately 350’-by-125’ in size. The specific area is located within the large rectangle. (Courtesy image)
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TELLURIDE IN 1910 – A hypothetical model of the main street facades, made up of buildings throughout the region,  the television producers are proposing to build for the production of "When Calls the Heart." (Courtesy image)
TELLURIDE IN 1910 – A hypothetical model of the main street facades, made up of buildings throughout the region, the television producers are proposing to build for the production of "When Calls the Heart." (Courtesy image)
slideshow

TELLURIDE – A team of television producers and key players from the Colorado Film Commission converged on Telluride this week to negotiate with local officials on whether to film a proposed new television drama series for the Hallmark Channel in and around Telluride. 

The family-friendly, original one-hour drama series, titled When Calls the Heart, is a sort of Little House on the Prairie set in a historic mining town. It follows the story of a wealthy young woman from Back East who moves to a frontier mining town to teach school and falls in love with a handsome lawman. 

The show is to be produced by Brian Bird, along with his partner, Michael Landon, Jr. (son of the famed producer of Little House on the Prairie), and Brad Krevoy (the producer of Dumb and Dumber, which was also filmed in Colorado) through their joint venture, Frontier Productions.

The producers estimate they would spend about $8 million in Telluride this summer alone, filming six episodes, with locals hired to do much of the set construction and even some of the acting. If the series extends an additional seven episodes in season one, it is estimated that approximately $17 million could be spent locally in San Miguel County and in Telluride in total this year.  

Ultimately the show could provide up to a thousand new jobs to the area and inject $75 million into the local economy over the next five years, Bird said. 

State and local officials including Governor John Hickenlooper, State Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman, Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser and Telluride Film Commission co-founder Tim Territo have all played key roles in wooing the series to Telluride.

The producers propose to build a film-set recreation of the Town of Telluride as it appeared in the early 1900s, on a “Super Fund” mining reclamation site owned by the Idarado Mining Company and controlled by San Miguel County.

As outlined in a proposal which has been widely distributed to local officials over the past several days, the construction of the film sets would take place between June 1 and July 22 for use in the eight-week production of six one-hour episodes of the series, starting around Aug. 1.  

The sets would be fabricated off-site and erected in sections on the Idarado tailings pile.  Following production during the first season of the show, and in succeeding seasons, if the Hallmark Channel chooses to continue the show, producers would remove the sets and store them offsite. When the series concludes, the land would be returned to its current state under the supervision of approved environmental professionals.   

Hallmark has the right to renew the series for an additional four seasons of 13 episodes each. An estimated $75 million would go into the making of the series during that time. The producers also estimate they will need to employ an estimated 100 weekly workers each season, plus an additional 250 workers and extras on as-needed basis.  

During the production cycles the production team would require logistics and services from local hotels, catering, restaurant, transportation and equipment rentals, and other services organizations.  

 

COMMISSIONERS EXPRESS NUMEROUS CONCERNS

 

The whole deal hinges on San Miguel County Commissioners granting a temporary special-use permit on the Idarado parcel as soon as possible. The matter was discussed at a County Commissioners meeting on Wednesday morning, May 15, at which the producers and Zuckerman were present to plead their case. 

"When we came to Telluride and saw that site and that box canyon, we knew right away there is nothing like that on television anywhere," Bird said. "This is an opportunity for people to see your town and your city, and what it has to offer the world is incredible. We were smitten with Telluride when we got here."

All three commissioners were hesitant about greasing the wheels for the project to move forward at lightning speed, however, expressing concern that the matter has not yet even been put before the public.  

Commissioner Chair Joan May was especially dubious about the project’s merits. 

"It is uncomfortable to have to make quick decisions,” she said. “I am not very excited about this. It is very last minute. We are being asked to bend very far to make this work." May expressed concerns about lighting at night, dust, and potential impacts on wildlife. "I don't like it, I will be honest. But if the community is behind it, I will like it, too."

Commissioner Art Goodtimes saw the project in a more positive light. 

"It is really exciting. It is one of the best things we have heard in a long time,” he said. “This is the kind of project we'd like to see, but we have a lot of concerns and you are making us move so fast. We haven't heard from anyone on this. We are going awful fast but it is a wonderful opportunity." 

As an outcome of Wednesday’s meeting, the show’s producers were instructed to draft an application for a temporary special use permit, which San Miguel County officials will then post on the county's website for citizens to review and prepare comments, with a public hearing tentatively set for May 28 at 10 a.m.

Idarado Mining Company has also specified that in order for the project to move forward, the production company must obtain approval from all of the Idarado Legacy subdivision homeowners. The scheduled hearing will not take place unless this condition has been fulfilled or an agreement has been reached.

 

A BOON TO THE LOCAL AND STATE ECONOMY?

 

While the county has expressed reservations about the project proposal, city officials are completely enthusiastic about what it means for Telluride. 

Territo and fellow Telluride Film Commission co-founders Ted Wilson and Thom Carnevale have worked for several years promoting Telluride as a location for film and television projects. The commission started as a means to diversify Telluride’s economy and promote the town when the housing market bottomed out. 

The income brought to Telluride by film and television projects is “good clean money,” Territo said. “It doesn’t involve selling real estate. People come and go, and the pictures last forever.”

Among the Telluride Film Commission’s recent achievements is a Coors beer commercial shot in downtown Telluride, which just started airing this week. But the proposed new Hallmark series represents a whole new level for the commission.  

“You can’t pay for that kind of advertising,” Territo said. “It’s as good an opportunity for Telluride as it gets. These opportunities only come by very rarely. I would hate to see it not happen.” 

The State Film Commission, meanwhile, has offered $1.5 million in incentives to convince the project’s producers to film the television series in Colorado. At this point, if Telluride doesn’t get the show, it will go to Alberta, Canada, where a pilot episode has already been filmed, according to Zuckerman. 

New legislation passed by Colorado lawmakers last year offers much better incentives now for films and television projects – up to 20 percent cash back if producers spend over $1 million in the state.

The proposed Hallmark series, with its multi-million dollar budget, could stand to benefit significantly from the incentives.

“This is a very important project to us,” Zuckerman told The Watch. “The advantage of a television series is that the repetitiveness (of episodes that are broadcast over time) gets an audience intrigued about where it’s being shot. Hallmark is distributed around the world; people will be able to see this program almost anywhere, and if a viewer is thinking of taking a vacation, they will think of Telluride and Colorado.”

 

swright@watchnewspapers.com or Tweet @iamsamwright



PUBLISHED MAY 14, 2013, AT 6:54 A.M.


County Commissioner Meeting on Wednesday Could Seal the Deal

TELLURIDE – A team of television producers and key players from the Colorado Film Commission converge on Telluride today to enter a round of last-minute negotiations with local officials regarding whether to film a proposed new television drama series for the Hallmark Channel in and around Telluride. 

 

The family-friendly original 1-hour drama series, titled When Calls the Heart, is a sort of Little House on the Prairie, set in a historic mining town. It follows the story of a wealthy young woman from “Back East” who moves to a frontier mining town to teach school and falls in love with a handsome lawman. 

 

The show is to be produced by Brian Bird, along with his partner, Michael Landon, Jr. (son of the famed producer of Little House on the Prairie), and Brad Krevoy (the producer of Dumb and Dumber which was also filmed in Colorado) through their joint venture, Frontier Productions.

 

The producers estimate they will spend about $8 million in Telluride this summer alone on six pilot episodes, with locals hired to do much of the set construction and even some of the acting. If the series extends an additional seven episodes in Season 1, it is estimated that approximately $17 million will be spent locally in San Miguel County and in Telluride in total on the production this year.  

 

Ultimately the show could provide up to a thousand new jobs to the area and inject $75 million into the local economy over the next five years, Bird said. 

 

State and local officials including Governor John Hickenlooper, State Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman, Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser and Telluride Film Commission co-founder Tim Territo have all played key roles in wooing the series to Telluride.

 

The producers propose to build a film-set recreation of the Town of Telluride as it appeared in the early 1900s, on a “Super Fund” mining reclamation site owned by the Idarado Mining Company and controlled by San Miguel County.

 

The deal hinges on San Miguel County Commissioners giving their blessing to the concept. Bird and his colleagues seek a special-use permit or a temporary re-zoning of the Idarado parcel. The matter will be discussed at a County Commissioners meeting on Wednesday morning, May 15. 

 

“If we get the okay from the County Commissioners on Wednesday, the project may be a go,” said Territo, who has been working at a fever pitch for the past two weeks to pull the deal together. “There is so much riding on this, it makes me very nervous. I am not sleeping at night.”

 

As outlined in a proposal which has been widely distributed to local officials over the past several days, the construction of the film sets would take place between June 1 and July 22 for use in the eight-week production of six one-hour episodes of the series, starting around Aug. 1.  

 

The sets would be fabricated off-site and erected in sections on the Idarado tailings pile.  Following production during the first season of the show, and in succeeding seasons if the Hallmark Channel chooses to continue the show, producers would remove the sets and store them off-site. When the series concludes, the land would be returned to its current state under the supervision of approved environmental professionals.   

 

Hallmark has the right to renew the series for an additional four seasons of 13 episodes each. An estimated $75 million would go into the making of the series during that time.  The producers also estimate they will need to employ an estimated 100 weekly workers each season, plus an additional 250 workers and extras on as-needed basis.  

 

During the production cycles the production team would require logistics and services from local Telluride hotels, catering, restaurant, transportation and equipment rentals, and other services organizations.  

 

Territo and fellow Telluride Film Commission co-founders Ted Wilson and Thom Carnevale have worked for several years promoting Telluride as a location for film and television projects. The commission started as a means to diversify Telluride’s economy and promote the town when the housing market bottomed out. 

 

The income brought to Telluride by film and television projects is “good clean money,” Territo said. “It doesn’t involve selling real estate. People come and go, and the pictures last forever.”

 

Among the Telluride Film Commission’s recent achievements is a Coors beer commercial shot in downtown Telluride, which just started airing this week. But the proposed new Hallmark series represents a whole new pinnacle of achievement for the commission.  

 

“You can’t pay for that kind of advertising,” Territo said. “It’s as good an opportunity for Telluride as it gets. These opportunities only come by very rarely. I would hate to see it not happen.” 

 

Territo began wooing the project after a friend showed him a recent article about the proposed series in the Aspen Times; the article stated that both Aspen and Telluride were being considered as possible locations for the show. 

 

Territo, a professional film location scout, invited the show’s producers to Telluride and gave them a whirlwind tour. “They fell in love with it,” he said. “They really had a feeling they could shoot it here.” 

 

While spectacularly scenic, the location on the west end of town where the series producers want to build their film-set poses a unique challenge, given that it is the site of a massive mining reclamation project. However, officials from both the Idarado Mining Company and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) have indicated that they are “on board” with the concept, Territo said. 

 

“The town is also way on board,” he added. Local incentives sweetening the deal to entice the project come here include generously discounted room rates at The Peaks.

 

The State Film Commission, meanwhile, has offered $1.5 million in additional incentives to convince the project’s producers to film the series in Colorado. At this point, if Telluride doesn’t get the show, it will go to Alberta, Canada, Territo said. 

 

New legislation passed by Colorado lawmakers last year offers much better incentives now for films and television projects  – up to 20 percent cash back if producers spend over $1 million in the state.

 

Colorado’s film incentives have gone up at a time when those offered by surrounding states such as New Mexico are going down.

 

The proposed Hallmark series, with its multi-million dollar budget, could stand to benefit significantly from the incentives.

 

The Colorado Film Commission “really wants to show everyone that the incentives are working,” Territo said. “They can play a huge role.”

 

swright@watchnewspapers.com or Tweet @iamsamwright

Comments
(5)
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prettyplease
|
June 01, 2013
Come on the April Fools joke was over in April.

Hey see that big flat sand pile? What a great place for a movie set ! Arsenic ,lead and other contaminants ,who cares ? I'm From Hollywood ! I don't know what a mine tailings pond is, a superfund site ? Doesn't that mean a lot of money ?
trutta
|
May 22, 2013
No doubt would be a boon for the town and local economy, and even better, a temporary, non-environment-altering activity. FaceOnMars, in her/his May 15 comment, rightly notes a concern about their access to public lands for external location shoots. Equally important, yet often not appreciated except by those directly affected, is access to private land. Pandora Lane, which leads directly to the proposed site, is a private road - paid for and maintained not by the town or the county, but by the Idarado Legacy subdivision owners. The 'private road' status is already routinely ignored by town residents. Presumably, Idarado residents can prevent constructiion traffic from accessing their site via Pandora Lane. But how would the town, county and Hallmark protect private property rights in the inevitable influx of curiosity seekers down Pandora Lane? Finally, one would hope the town/county might show some foresight in ensuring that whatever temporary financial windfall accrues is captured and banked in a rainy day fund, or perhpas used to reduce our debt burden (valley floor, etc).
FaceOnMars
|
May 15, 2013
I have to agree with the commissioners with respect to "feeling rushed" and the need to run this by the public first. Certainly, one of the big proponents of this project, the Mayor of Telluride, ought to have been aware of the nature of the "public process" prior to making the big push. As a regular listener of the town council meetings, it's clear that he has a handle on procedural issues and "what is the proper venue" (for this or that).

I'm sure there will be many issues which are raised, but one which I'd be concerned about is limiting public access to public lands with respect to any external "location shoots" on what might be NFS or public lands. We've already seen how the NFS has apparently been sympathetic to private interests' desires to close access to public lands. Will we see similar closures regarding filming which might be overly obtrusive to the public's interests and access?

Personally, I'm a big fan of Westerns and find the project very interesting. I'm also a fan of diversifying the local economy. I believe others will be in the same boat on both these counts. Having said that, I hope we as a community are able to objectively assess the proposal without personal biases getting in the way of a sound decision.
mtnred
|
May 14, 2013
Where can I sign up to be an extra?
wiseoldsnail
|
May 14, 2013
all these years later ... tiny town never fairly reimbursed those evicted from the canyon for the toxic reclamation. meanwhile, folks living and raising their kids across the street took the brunt of the toxins, and will take the brunt of the traffic this project will bring.

maybe the profits can be split among those two groups, instead of feeding the machine.