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Nevada courts Hollywood

JUDITH HARLAN

Hollywood came to Reno’s Golden Phoenix to shoot “The Cooler”with Alec Baldwin (shooting Reno for Vegas).

Crews set up at the Silver Legacy for “Unbeatable Harold,” film crews headed for Elko for the upcoming “Don’t Come Knocking,” and a second unit crew shot aircraft at this year’s Reno/Stead National Championship Air Races.

Though the film industry is not a booming business for northern Nevada, it’s one that brought in $150 million statewide in the 2002- 2003 fiscal year,with most expenditures going to travel, lodging and food.

Most of the production business – and that includes films, television, and commercial shoots — go to Las Vegas.

The “Friends” television show,”Chicago Hope,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” have all shot in Vegas.

But companies come to northern Nevada too.

Some of the big draws up here are the roads, says Robin Holabird, deputy director, Nevada Film Office,Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

She’s the northern Nevada liaison for the Vegas-based office.

The department maintains a workhorse of a Web site (www.nevadafilm.com) – a directory of Nevada resources that have signed up to advertise for work with the industry.

A big part of Holabird’s job is putting film people in touch with these resources and others.

“I have a large rolodex,” she says, an understatement.

It includes everyone from caterers, to sound crews, to electrical technicians, to office teams.

She’s often asked for things she’s never sought before.

One company wanted a bulldozer and assorted construction equipment.

Another huge part of Holabird’s job is marketing, and, she says, the best, surest customer for northern Nevada is a car manufacturer.

They love Nevada’s roads, she says.

They come here to film SUVs on Tahoe roads in winter, and – yes, she often has to remind the ad folks that part of Tahoe is indeed Nevada.Auto advertising crews also come for Pyramid Highway, that great, long stretch of open road.

Clothing catalogs come here, too, to shoot against elegant, rustic backgrounds like the Thunderbird Lodge or some of the expansive mountain estates.

Crews shooting commercials are the bread and butter,Holabird says.

They may not be so glamorous as a star-studded Hollywood film, but they are steady customers.Holabird estimates that she’s usually working with at least one company per week,many of them scouting for commercial locations and crews.

Northern Nevada is in hot competition for the clients from just about everywhere, says Holabird.

Other states, and Canada which is a huge competitor in the market, offer tax incentives and rebates, says Holabird.

Nevada does not.

Nevada offers reasonably priced accommodations and crews, she says.And the Reno City Council’s recent move rescinding of a $20 permit fee “sends the right message.”


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