Document 11871756

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Use of Grasslands for Movie-Making
Tom Hildebrand 1
The Tucson Film Office was established about 12 years ago when the Tucson realized that there
was a lot of potential economic development, which is what the movie business represents to Tucson
and southern Arizona. I'll refer to Tucson, but our office covers the whole southern part of the state. Our
office was formed in 1986 and we operate today with a budget of about $150,000. It's not a big
department but the revenues generated into the economy here represents about $25 million yearly
over the last two or three years. It's a pretty clean industry. I'm going to speak about the grasslands.
As you go back in history the westerns have always used a lot of the grassland areas. A lot of the
John Wayne movies were shot here in Tucson. We're fortunate here in Tucson that we've got such a
variety of looks. Within about 50 miles of where we're sitting here today you can be in almost any type
of terrain that you can find throughout the United States. We're a little short of ocean, but other than
that we're in pretty good shape.
I think the movie business can offer a heavy economic impact to the managers and owners of
grasslands. The people in the San Rafael Valley, where the film 11The Fantastics11 was recently shot, got
between two or three thousand dollars a day just for the use of the dirt and grass and scenery. There's
unbelievable vistas when you're down in that area. They leave it in good shape. It's like any business
that you're involved in. A film company will take advantage of you if they think they can. Sometimes it's
not intentional. Sometimes it's just sloppy. We always tell people to handle it very well. Make sure
you've got a good tight contract.
Make sure that when they leave it's all spelled out about how they're going to clean up the
property when they leave, that there has to be re-seeding that will be done. There's no reason to have
a situation that when they leave there's damage done to the property. They can usually go away and
you never know they've been there. They built two houses and put in a cornfield and sunflower field with
the help of the University on the site where they filmed 11The FantastiCS11 in the San Rafael Valley. We
were down there about a week ago and I couldn't tell at first where they'd been. On real close
examination I could tell where they'd re-seeded, but the grass was almost back to completely normal.
It is a good way to make quite a few thousands of dollars to help operate something like the Cienega
Ranch down there because they will come in and utilize that facility and they pay usually very good
money. That's just the feature films that come in. We have had in recent months two or three
occasions where we've used those grasslands as the 11 0Ut of Africa 11 l~ok for fashion and catalog
shootings. Speigel's just came in and did quite a large catalog shoot and it was an 11 0ut of Africa 11 look
that they wanted to establish and it worked great. With a few props you don't know where you are.
Our office has put together photos of the grasslands and we will send these out. We'll get a
request from a company and they'll say, we know you've got mountains and you've got saguaros but
we want something more than that. They'll tell us what they want and then we'll go into our files. We
put together photo panoramas so that they can get a good idea. To my knowledge, we've had very good
working relationships with the film companies in their usage of these plants. They respect it for the
most part. It's like any other segment of society. Once and while you'll get somebody who has no
respect for the property and you just have to snap them into line. I think overall it's a good way to make
a nice clean income. Something like the Cienega Ranch can make $25,000 to $30,000 income off
of a film shoot, direct to them. That doesn't include all the money the film company will spend in hiring
local labor and buying hardware and lumber and everything else that they might use in the production.
City of Tucson Film Office, Tucson AZ.