It’s a familiar storyline, but this time it features an A-list movie director: Quentin Tarantino came to Telluride and immediately fell in love.
Tarantino was in town two weeks ago, according to Colorado Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman, after producers for his upcoming film “The Hateful Eight” had scouted various locations and picked the Schmid Family Ranch on Wilson Mesa, roughly ten miles west of downtown Telluride, as their top location.
“Quentin Tarantino came to Telluride and scouted it. I was told he fell in love with the place. He could have picked any beautiful spot in Canada or anywhere in North America,” Zuckerman said. “But Telluride convinced him to come.”
The region beat out locations in Utah and Wyoming to serve as the setting for the post-Civil War Western film rumored to include Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell. The actors and crew will be based in town during filming.
“[Tarantino] came into town pretty much unannounced, met with some people here and fell in love with the place,” confirmed Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser. “He said, ‘This is where I want to do ‘The Hateful Eight.’’”
Previously, the Oscar-winning writer, director and producer Tarantino filmed part of his 2012 film “Django Unchained” in the Jackson, Wyoming area.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission and its Office of Film provided the film project with a $5 million incentive package. The Colorado Film Incentive program offers a 20 percent rebate for film production costs within the state for qualifying projects.
Filming will begin before Christmas, would occur mostly on the Schmid Ranch and would last 49 days. Ancestors of the Schmid family first homesteaded the property in 1882, around the time the film is set. Currently the ranch is used for weddings and other events, but the production crew will build interiors and exteriors on the ranch and shoot the entirety of the film there, according to Zuckerman.
Pending final approval from the San Miguel County Planning Commission and County Commissioners, the tentative schedule for the film would have crew begin construction of a temporary set in mid-October, Fraser said.
Some rehearsals would be held before Christmas, Fraser said, and then the film would shoot in earnest from January to March. The film would tentatively be ready for fall of 2015.
One of the stipulations of the incentive package is that some crew members come from the local community.
“A substantial amount of workers would have to come from here,” Fraser said. “It will have a very positive impact on the community if it goes through.”
‘The Hateful Eight’ has been the source of much controversy. After the script for the director’s eighth feature was leaked to media in January, Tarantino announced he was scrapping the project out of frustration. But, eventually he came around and decided to continue production on the film. The plot follows bounty hunters caught in a blizzard.
The movie will be shot on 65mm film and shown on 70mm, Fraser said. 70mm film was a style common in the 1950s and 1960s during the height of popularity for Western films, as opposed to the digital shoots ubiquitous today.
Other rumored cast members include Amber Tamblyn and Michael Madsen.
Local location scout Tim Territo said such a major film coming to Telluride would be a huge boost for the local economy, especially during the normally slow off-season months.
“This would just be really great for this community. Having a feature film here would be huge. It breaks the mold of people thinking they can’t shoot here in Telluride,” Territo said. “Tarantino’s doing this is going to break that mold, which is great for us.”
Territo said that film industry professionals sometimes have the misconception that the box canyon is too expensive to shoot in, or that there won’t be enough housing.
“This is the best thing to happen to Colorado since ‘True Grit,’” said Zuckerman.
“True Grit,” the 1969 classic Western remade in 2010, was shot throughout the region. Tarantino’s upcoming film will be the first major project to shoot in the area since the John Wayne movie filmed in Ouray, Gunnison, Montrose and Ridgway.
The San Miguel County Planning Commission and County Commissioners have set up two special hearings to consider a special use permit for the film, both on Oct. 16, according to planning commission director Mike Rozycki.
Planning commissioners will do a site visit of the Schmid Family Ranch in the morning and then present their recommendation to the county commissioners, who are expected to vote on the issue in the afternoon, Rozycki said.
“The whole world is going to be watching to see what happens on the 16th, so we’ll see. Hopefully this movie will get made in Telluride,” Zuckerman said.
“It will cause the spotlight to shine on us if everything goes through,” Fraser said.