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Shoot Colorado: Website aims to help Hollywood find places to film

Let's say you're a big-time Hollywood filmmaker. You've heard about Colorado's new film incentives and you'd love to take advantage of the cash rebates natural splendor the state has to offer. But where to start? A new website called Shoot Colorado makes it easy, providing a digital directory of locations searchable by region and attributes. Looking for a diner? How about a ghost town? A railroad? A drilling rig? Suburbia?

To build a thriving film industry, "incentives are the first thing you have to have and the second is locations," says Daniel Taras, who specializes in film industry networking. The Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media contracted with him to build the website. "We really wanted to make sure that communities around the state are getting an equal shot and an equal opportunity of being seen," he adds.

The site features eighty locations, including big cities (Denver, Colorado Springs) and lesser known places (Fruita, Crowley County, Creede). Each location has its own web page with a description penned by Taras, photographs of local icons and vistas, and the name and number for a local contact. The pages also give the distance to the nearest airport and links to local lodging and business directories, as well as police contact information.

An old railroad bridge over the Rio Grande River, just outside of Creede.
An old railroad bridge over the Rio Grande River, just outside of Creede.
Daniel Taras/Shoot Colorado

"At this point, we're trying to give more of an overall impression of what a town is like -- a big picture overview and a teaser so they can say, 'Wow!'" Taras says.

Taras built the site with help from the film office; the staff there chose the eighty locations based on which towns and counties have shown an interest in the movie business. It was then up to Taras to travel to each location, take some photos and get a feel for what it'd be like to film in there. "It's me going to these towns and...trying to see it in a way that a filmmaker or photographer might see it," Taras says.

And he's not just interested in sweeping plains and purple mountains majesty. He also keeps an eye out for peeling buildings and rusty railroad tracks. "We need to show that stuff just as much as we need to show the mountains," Taras says.

Page down to continue reading about Shoot Colorado.   Take, for example, Shoot Colorado's entry on Marble, a tiny town of 131 residents in western Colorado that's home to a quarry. Here's how Taras described it:

Marble is remote and isolated in the wilderness, with unsullied valleys, meadows and snowcapped peaks all around. There are vintage hand-hewn log cabins, a church, a school and snow. Lots of snow.

Hidden away are an abandoned ski resort built in the 70's, and the Colorado-Yule Marble Quarry, a wonderland of pure, white marble. Think Krypton or an extra-terrestrial comic book location. It is like being in a cathedral of white ice.

The 1892 Crystal Mill is located in the town of Crystal, just outside of Marble.
The 1892 Crystal Mill is located in the town of Crystal, just outside of Marble.
Jill Ulrych

"Every single day, I'm amazed at how diverse and how beautiful the state is," says Taras. "But also what's been nice is exploring things that aren't that pretty.... Sometimes it's those really downtrodden places could be the greatest places to shoot."

Taras moved here three years ago from New Mexico, which has generous film incentives and a robust industry. A former cook, Taras's first job in the industry was as a chef for the crew of the television show Breaking Bad. Taras eventually left that job and started his own film industry resource company, Crew New Mexico. He says he felt drawn to do the same type of film networking in Colorado; his business, iFilm, Inc., is based in Boulder. Currently, his main project is developing and managing Shoot Colorado.

"We want to convey that we have everything," he says. "Everything but the ocean."

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