When Bega Metzner took over as the director of the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission last year, she said she had no idea how much the job would become a part of her life, though it is a life she has lived for many years, beginning as a New York- and Los Angeles-based technical consultant to the industry as a wardrobe designer and costumer.
Now, as 2017 comes to a close, Metzner is on top of the world as filmmakers from places as far away as Scandinavia and the Balkans have come to our region to shoot all forms of film and digital video, ranging from documentaries to commercials that feature fast cars and Jeeps out on the slickrock.
For Metzner, it’s been a year filled with self-discovery — and a whole lot of scouting for locations in the desert surroundings of Grand and San Juan counties.
“I’ve been all over the region in the past year finding locations for filmmakers to use,” Metzner said. “One of the things we can offer to filmmakers, often those who don’t know about our stunning environment and scenery, is a range of locations. From the canyons to the desert, to a small town like Monticello or Blanding, we have it all here.”
Metzner said that the commission has been intimately involved in a handful of forthcoming documentaries this year and has worked on a number of television commercials airing in the United States and abroad. The Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and other federal/state agencies have issued more than 100 filming permits in 2017.
According to the Utah Film Commission, 24 productions received state film incentives to shoot in Utah this year, including a range of local and out-of-state feature films, TV series and documentaries. More than $73 million was spent in state and more than 2,000 Utahns were employed as a result of these productions. This represents a 52 percent increase in Utah compared with 2016.
In terms of local outreach to filmmakers, actors and technicians, Metzner said her commission’s new website, www.filmmoab.com, will serve the movie-making community by allowing residents of Grand and San Juan counties to upload resumes for crew positions in a production directory, and also for properties such as cabins, homes and land to be used during film productions.
“It’s so great to have this new site,” Metzner said. “We’ve migrated off the city’s website and, with this new site, one of the coolest parts is that it allows people in the industry to network with each other and apply for positions that are open on crews.”
The website, which Metzner calls, “stunning,” was designed by local artist JoJo Matson and went live in late September.
Filmmakers aren’t the only ones noticing the changes at the commission, however. Moab City Senior Projects Manager Amy Weiser said she believes the commission is growing in recognition throughout the nation under Metzner’s watch.
“Bega brings a wealth of experience from many years in the film industry,” Weiser said. “Her knowledge and know-how has helped to increase the film commission’s presence in the film community at large and she has also increased the [commission’s] public presence by sponsoring film events in Moab and attending industry conferences throughout the U.S.”
The commission also offers equipment for rent to students or locals of any age who want to shoot films. The list of equipment is available on the website. The commission, along with the Moab City Recreation Department, will continue to show free outdoor (and some indoor) movie screenings as part of the bi-monthly “Movie Nights in Moab.” Metzner is also a sponsor (with the Grand County Library) of free monthly Utah Film Center screenings at Star Hall. The sponsorship helped the commission purchase the technology to hold occasional post-film Skype sessions with directors when they are available.
For more information, visit the commission’s website or call 435-259-4341.