Want to bring more TV and movies to Natrona County?
Visit Casper has launched a new resource center called Film Casper to connect TV and film professionals with local crews, vendors and filming locations.
Coordinating film and TV projects is a logistical maze, said Kelly Eastes, head of Film Casper.
Each production team must find filming locations that match their vision. Before committing to a specific location, they should also know that there are local vendors who can support them while filming. They need companies to provide things like rental cars, equipment, accessories and catering, for example.
Production crews are also looking for local residents that they can bring on board their crew. It’s common for film and TV projects to hire locals for freelance gigs, Eastes explained, because it tends to be cheaper than bringing in people from out of town.
Film Casper wants to make it easier for film and television professionals to experience what Natrona County has to offer.
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Any Natrona County resident interested in being a vendor or crew member can register for the online database. People can also advertise their homes and businesses as filming locations.
Applicants should provide contact details and, where applicable, details of their qualifications and experience.
In addition to managing the database, Film Casper will help potential TV and film projects navigate licensing requirements and connect them with local authorities, businesses and residents.
Eastes’ first contact with the film industry was in 1996, when he worked for the Natrona County Parks Department.
When the 1997 film “Starship Troopers” was filmed in Casper, Eastes was the de facto liaison between the county and the production team.
The crew behind “Starship Troopers” had 39 days of filming in Natrona County; they had been in town for about two months.
It was a boon to the local economy – an old expense report provided to the Star-Tribune showed the film’s production team spent nearly $4.3 million in Wyoming. That’s about $8 million today, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator.
County officials asked Eastes to help Casper land future film and television projects.
“The county commissioners came to me and wanted to start a little movie office, so we could recruit the business from the community,” Eastes said. He ran this movie office until 2004, when he took a job with the Natrona County School District.
With Film Casper, Eastes and Natrona County have renewed their efforts to put central Wyoming on the map.
What makes Natrona County an attractive filming location? For one, it has an international airport, Eastes said. That projects can easily get their teams in and out of town.
“Even if they have a large crew, they can charter something and fly it here, and the airport is big enough to handle what they need,” Eastes said.
The area also has enough businesses to accommodate the kinds of supplies film crews need. Finally, the region offers a diverse landscape, he said. Natrona County has urban and suburban settings, woods, mountains, canyons, river areas, and plains.
Starship Troopers is far from the only production to be filmed in Natrona County. The 1968 movie “Hellfighters” was filmed here, as well as episodes of “Street Outlaws,” a reality TV show about illegal street racing, according to a press release Monday from Visit Casper. Wells Fargo, Marlboro and Toyota have also rotated projects in the area, according to the release.
Film Casper is working with Paramount to scout locations for possible future projects, Eastes said, and Disney is set to shoot a project in Natrona County this fall.
To browse the Film Casper database or register to be a part of it, go to visitcasper.com/movie
Right now, there’s one big thing that’s making it difficult for Wyoming to compete for movie dollars, Eastes said: It no longer has a state movie incentive program.
Wyoming passed a law to bring more filmmakers to the state in 2007, but the law reached its expiration date in 2018.
The law’s expiration has already cost some projects in Wyoming, Eastes said. Paramount’s “1883” – a prequel to its drama TV series “Yellowstone” – was planning to shoot in Wyoming. But Paramount opted instead for Montana, which recently passed new legislation on movie incentives.
A bill to bring back the Wyoming program was introduced to lawmakers during the state’s 2022 legislative session in February. This bill would have set aside up to $3 million in state revenue from lodging taxes for the program every two years. He failed to respect his introductory vote in the House.
The Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee is expected to draft and sponsor another version of the bill for the 2023 legislative session, the Sheridan Press reported in May.