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2021 Sundance Film Festival
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Utah’s a unique place to film, Sundance filmmaker says

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, file photo, the Egyptian Theatre is lit up on Main Street during the first night of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Scott Chester is no stranger to film-making. He’s been working in the industry since 1985 and several of his projects have been premiered at Sundance. He’s worked across the country, including some projects in L.A.

But, the filmmaker says Utah is a unique place to live to create movies.

Chester first came to Utah as an independent worker, offered a spot on the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian.” Parts of the movie were filmed on the Salt Flats, which Chester said were a beautiful sight.

In fact, Chester fell in love with the place — moving to Utah just six months later.

Being entered into the Sundance process is kind of a mystery, Chester said. While he’s based here in Utah, people will come from all over to film and he’ll interview and get hired to work for them. Occasionally, they’ll be selected for the film festival.

Often, he’ll be working on a film set in Utah when the Sundance Film Festival Director will make visits to the shoot. That’s when it all becomes real, he said.

“I don’t have a lot of creative input on what happens,” Chester said. “But, when you’re working on them and John Cooper from Sundance shows up on set you go, ‘Oh, maybe this movie has a chance.'”

Chester said living in Utah presents advantages in the filmmaking process, especially when it comes to Sundance submissions.

“It’s cool to live here,” he said. “You don’t have to fly in to go the festival.”

He said living in Utah helps to save money on lodging and hotels, allowing those funds to go toward the set and other budgetary needs. Utah also attracts the right kind of workers for films, making it easy to build a crew.

Chester’s film “Nine Days” premiered Monday at the festival, which he worked as a filmmaker and production manager for the project. In that position, he said he is the general contractor of the film: building the film schedule, creating a budget, hiring a crew, setting deadlines, etc.

He said working so closely with the film, you don’t get a holistic view until it’s finished. While he’s working, he said he can think something looks really good — but when he watches it, he thinks it looks bad.

“You hope to make movies to move people, that actually leave an impression,” he said. “So, I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that.”

Chester said Sundance is also unique in the way that he gets to sit with the audience while watching it on the big screen.

“It’s rare you get to do that.”

He said that as a filmmaker, he wants the audience to like it. He wants them to react well. Which, he said thinks he got at “Nine Days” which brought a packed theater and concluded with a two-minute long standing ovation at the end.

Filmmaker and Production Manager Scott Chester joins the Movie Show to talk about his current Sundance film, Nine Days. Chester has been in the industry from 1985 working on familiar favorites like ‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse’ and Sundance films, ‘Hereditary’ and ‘Damsel.’ He discusses the joy of filming in Utah, and the process of being involved in the  Sundance Film Festival.

You can listen to the full episode below:

The Movie Show with Doug Wright and Steve Salles. Listen Fridays 9 am to noon at 1160 AM & 102.7 FM, kslnewsradio.com, or on the App. Follow us on Facebook at @TheMovieShow. Join The Movie Show Club for exclusive perks! Text “Movie” to 57500.

The Movie Show podcast is sponsored by Megaplex Theatres, Utah’s premiere movie entertainment company.