As state legislators grapple with the meteor-sized budget hole that's swallowing so many programs, their eyes have fallen on the Colorado Film Commission -- the first such state agency in the country when it opened in 1969 -- and its $320,000 annual tab. Under one measure now being considered by the hackers on the hill, the 3.5-person commission would close on March 1, with the former filmies shifted to promote tourism.
Talk about things to do in Denver when you're dead!
Naturally, many local filmmakers and arts enthusiasts are outraged and have been meeting to write a script that doesn't end like the Nightmare on Broadway.
"It is essential that we have a commission," says Susan Gurule of the Colorado Film and Video Association. How essential? That's difficult to determine, since CFVA and the state are still in the middle of a survey to determine how many people are involved in the movie-making industry across Colorado. But last year, some $30 million worth of feature films, commercials and other media work were tracked in this state. And while nobody can say exactly how much such an agency helps to land films, Gurule credits Colorado's commission with wooing and winning HBO's The Laramie Project from neighboring Utah. That showed -- in the parlance of a 1969 film lensed here -- True Grit.
But other local filmmakers feel that the commission has languished for years. Mary-Lyn Chambers, who raised money for her $55,000 short at Denver benefits, thinks the commission often overlooked hometown filmmakers while it focused on luring big-buck Hollywood types. "I am concerned how it will impact filmmaking here," she says of the commission's almost certain demise, "but I don't think it was given the support it needed."
Optimists believe lawmakers will still give this story a happy ending. "They talk about this every two years," sighs area filmmaker Darlene Cypser. But this year may be different: Three other states have already shut their commissions, and Colorado could be following a trend. Yet for the sake of the economy and general hipness, Cypser and others are hoping that the state won't cry "Cut!"
Because Colorado's always ready for a close-up, Mr. DeMille. Here's just a clip of the Centennial State's cinematic heritage:
1. The title of the first "theatrical" film listed on the Colorado Film Commission's filmography is:
A. Alferd Packer Unpacked.
B. Lynching at Cripple Creek.
C. Festival of Mountain and Plain.
D. Uh-oh, Yuppies Ho!
2. One stated function of the commission is "location scouting." Which is not an architectural style it can point out in Colorado?
A. Art Deco.
3. Recently, while researching a 1980- vintage hockey story in Colorado Springs, Disney consulted a local expert about what?
A. The types of beers served then.
B. The height of platform disco shoes.
C. The best way to pummel an opponent.
D. The most fervent prayers used in pre-game meetings.
4. Although its 1998 release was only on video, this work drips with Colorado spirit:
A. The Littlest Mayor: Federico Peña.
B. John Denver: A Portrait.
C. Sex Change Confidential.
D. Ghost Towns and Rodeo Clowns - The Best of the Ol' West.
5. John Belushi played hard-drinking Chicago columnist Ernie (great name!) Souchak in:
A. A Mile High and Never Comin' Down.
B. Deadline Drifter.
D. Continental Divide.
6. Spot the movie that was not made (at least partially) in Colorado:
A. My Samurai.
B. Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain.
C. Dragon and the Hawk.
D. Rock-sake Masters.
7. 1990 was a vintage year here for the Hollywood hordes. Which didn't lens in Colorado?
A. City Slickers.
B. Die Hard 2: Die Harder.
C. National Lampoon's Vacation.
D. Thelma & Louise.
8. The plot-twist in the bug-eyed Rodney Dangerfield epic Ladybug is:
A. Rodney's character has magic powers that allowed him to talk with insects at the Butterfly Pavilion.
B. Rodney's character enlists a boy soccer-stud to play on a girls' team at a private school.
C. Rodney's character goes to the Brown Palace, where he meets the ghost of "Lady," a woman of ill repute.
D. Rodney runs up Pikes Peak and sheds eight pounds of ugly fat.
9. After appearing at the Denver International Film Festival's premiere of The Razor¹s Edge, Bill Murray said:
A. "Now can I graduate from Regis?"
B. "I guess I don't need to do another serious role."
C. "Denver's the golf capital of the world."
D. "Anybody got a spare canister of oxygen?"
10. Actor Raymond Burr cut a big swath here. Which wasn't a title of a made-for-TV film?
A. Perry Mason: The Case of the All-Star Assassin.
B. Perry Mason: The Case of the Avenging Ace.
C. Perry Mason: The Case of the Broken Buffet.
D. Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit.
11. The title of the 1995 movie Things to Do in Denver When You¹re Dead came from:
A. The legislative Joint Budget Committee.
B. A Jack Kerouac poem.
C. A Warren Zevon song.
D. A Blinky the Clown skit.
12. Thirteen-year-old Matthew Helms could launch a film idol's revival. All but one are true of the new Lakewood resident, according to his publicist:
A. He was in The Patriot with Mel Gibson.
B. He's an expert in martial arts.
C. He does all of his own stunts in Warren Miller's upcoming Gelendesprung Banzai.
D. He utters "Pancakes, pancakes" in an upcoming film by a David Lynch protegé.
13. Does it get any bigger? Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes starred in:
A. The Fan.
B. Big Rush and Little Faucet.
C. Dumb and Dumber.
D. Ramblin' With Roy.
14. In Sleeper, Woody Allen does what at the futuristic house perched over I-70 near Genesee?
A. Falls for Diane Keaton.
B. Escapes the clutches of control freaks.
C. Plays ragtime jazz.
D. Overdoses on Nyquil.
15. Jack Nicholson spends one night in About Schmidt where?
A. In a hot tub.
B. Sleeping in his RV parked on a Denver street.
C. At Governor Bill Owens's empty mansion.
D. Inside a tent at the Chief Hosa campground.
16. What hometown hero was memorialized in a biopic?
A. Supreme Court Justice Byron White in Whizzer's World.
B. Governor Richard Lamm in Duty to Die and Other Hints.
C. Dan Issel in Grin and Bear It.
D. Molly Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
17. Local gazillionaire-and-dropping Phil Anschutz became a movie mogul by backing Joshua. What is not true about this holy flick?
A. It includes an Academy Award-winning actor as a grumpy priest.
B. It was filmed entirely on location here, with Easter Sunrise at Red Rocks among the highlights.
C. It follows a carpenter (!) who comes to a small town and has special "powers."
D. It's out on DVD.
18. Which silent-era star is connected with Colorado?
A. Tom Mix.
B. Charlie Chaplin.
C. Fatty Arbuckle.
D. Billy Crystal.
19. In Die Hard 2, Stapleton International doubles as:
A. L.A.'s Boogierific Disco.
B. Yugoslav Aeoropuerto Internacionale.
C. Washington's Dulles.
D. JFK in a snowstorm.
20. Robert Redford played this hotshot in the career-making epic Downhill Racer (which came out the same year as a certain Butch film):
A. Harry Longbaugh.
B. Jeremiah Johnson.
C. David Chappallet.
D. Bob Woodward.
1. C. Festival of Mountain and Plain unspooled in 1897.
2. B. Bauhaus ain't our house, according to the commission, which found zero examples.
3. A. Beer expert Charlie Papazian delivered the goods.
4. B. The late Mr. D was honored.
5. D. Belushi was in Divide.
6. D. Rock-sake Master was not unleashed.
7. C. Nat Lamp lit up in 1982.
8. B. Coach Dangerfield blends genders to please his boss by winning.
9. B. After taking some critical hits, Murray opined that he'd stick to funny.
10. C. The hefty sleuth never broke the buffet. On camera.
11. C. Zevon is believed to have inspired the title.
12. C. No Miller time for the new Coloradan.
13. A. The Fan has the pair.
14. B. Escapes mind control. Sort of.
15. B. Jack racks out in the RV.
16. D. Well, duh. But at least we didn't make a gratuitous mention of Titanic.
17. B. Heaven only knows, but Joshua does not bless Colorado.
18. A. Mix was in the mix.
19. C. Willis is in Dulles.
20. C. Chappallet away.Burr-rito.