Students looking to make their mark in the entertainment industry may not have to move out of the state do so. “The future for entertainment and technology in Utah is very bright. We’re getting noticed for more and more,” said Utah’s Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox.
One incentive is the tax incentive for film production. However, one stipulation is that they are required to hire a certain amount of Utah residents. Not only are these incentives in place, they are being considered for expansion, adding to the already established success north of Salt Lake City and the expansion of major tech companies south of Salt Lake City. “Success breeds success, and we are going to continue building on that success,” said Cox.
Moving to a place like Silicon Valley or being in the middle of Hollywood would put you in the middle of a lot of exposure. However, Utah is certainly a major attraction—and a growing one. “If you were to rank the 50 states, Utah is toward the top in number of film production that happens here,” said Drew Tyler, Weber State professor and adviser to Studio 76.
Sundance Film Festival is an annual event, which brings a lot of exposure to Utah. Cox talked about Utah working with Sundance to increase the exposure and an idea that has been discussed with video game executives in the Silicon Valley area, potentially developing a video game convention in conjunction with Sundance Film Festival.
“It would make perfect sense for film and games to be featured together. It’s already found success in the annual Fantastic Fest and Fantastic Arcade—which feature films and video games, respectively—every year in Austin, Texas. I think there would be a great turnout for a format like this in Utah,” said Robin Haislett, Weber State professor, and adviser to KWCR.
With the entertainment industry’s demanding environment, they typically look for younger people with no commitments, even people who have not graduated college. “By the time they’re college graduates with skills, they have families too, especially around here. Triple A game companies don’t want you to have outside commitments,” said Haislett.
With families being a potential deterrent to entertainment developers who are relocating or expanding here, the question is, what is Utah doing to help with the family oriented culture here?
“It’s really interesting when you talk about the family culture here in Utah and kinda adapting to that from the Silicon Valley. We find it happens organically. What they [out-of-state tech companies] are discovering when they come to Utah is that by changing their standards to fit more of this idea of the importance of family, they’re having more success, and they are starting to rethink how they do things,” said Cox.
Some people want to leave the state, and others really want to stay here and chase their dream and make their mark in the entertainment world. Regardless of how they accomplish their goal, they still may have to move out of the state—or at least venture out of the state. Though, Utah would like to keep them here as much as possible. “We think we can do more. We have some very talent graduates coming out of our colleges and universities. They love them in California. We would love for them to be able to stay here in Utah,” said Cox.
To those who are pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, more specifically in the video game industry and eventually develop their own work, the future is bright in Utah.
A correction was made to this story on Dec. 8 to improve clarity.