Nevada has a strong tradition of hosting productions but has fallen behind in recent years thanks to the growing number of state incentives across the US. That situation may be about to change, however, following Nevada’s decision to introduce its own incentive.
It’s early days, but the hope is that the new regime will help rebuild the state’s talent/crew base and have knock-on benefits for the wider Nevada economy.
The state’s big attraction is, of course, Las Vegas, which is both a good place to shoot and a great place to hang out while shooting. But Nevada has a lot more to offer in terms of beautiful natural landscapes. Reno and Lake Tahoe are popular filming locations and have a good infrastructure including a decent studio set up. Roads and deserts are also impressive.
In terms of public support, there is a well-organised film office and a production-friendly permitting system. There are also good crews, state of the art facilities and the fact that the state enjoys more than 300 days of sun per year.
Nevada has always has a regular turnover of film, TV and commercials projects, though perhaps not as much since other US states started introducing tax incentives. Figures show that 520 productions filmed in Nevada during 2012, bringing in US$89m. This compares with 476 productions in 2001, bringing in $155m. The implication here is that Nevada is losing out on some of the more lucrative high-end jobs.
In terms of recent jobs, brands to have shot in the state include McDonalds, Alfa Romeo, Adidas, Burger King, Jaguar, BMW, Lexus and Range Rover. As for films, productions such as Now You See Me, Hangover 3, Behind The Candelabra and Last Vegas are all recent visitors. Further back in time, credits include The Shootist with John Wayne, Electric Horseman and The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe, shot at Valley of Fire.
Sci-Fi’s include Mars Attacks, Independence Day, Transformers and Star Trek. Most TV projects tend to be factual shows passing through (Pawn Stars, Cake Boss, Bridezillas etc) but the state has hosted drama and comedy productions such as House Of Lies and CSI (though most of this show is shot in LA).
Robert De Niro’s comedy film Last Vegas is a classic example of the challenge facing Nevada. While the production was based in the state for two weeks, it was more cost-effective for the film to rebuild Vegas in Atlanta and take advantage of the Georgian film incentives. The hope is this will change now that Nevada has introduced its own incentive.
Nevada law says producers must register their project with the Nevada Film Office. Details can be found on their website. The completion of a Film Permit Application is required and an application package must be submitted to each desired filming jurisdiction. This will specify where the producer wants to shoot and any special production needs such as pyrotechnics, traffic closures, etc.
Turn-around times for the receipt of a permit vary, and depend on production’s requirements. In Nevada, as in most places throughout the US, proof of liability insurance by a company licensed to provide insurance in the State of Nevada is required for obtaining a film permit.
Many Nevada county and city permits are free. There are separate permitting requirements for locations outside of city and county limits such as: The Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, Bureau of Land Management areas, National parks and State roads and highways. Fees for wilderness and recreation areas, state parks and similar locations are based on the size of the crew, number of vehicles, type of use intended, expected impact and other variables.
In terms of shooting in Vegas, many sidewalks on the Strip are the private property of the hotels they border. In most cases, you may have to contact the hotels directly to obtain permission to film on the sidewalks.
Recent developments include the opening of Reno Tahoe Studios in Reno. Set up by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, the facility has three stages of 70,200, 60,100 and 49,500 sq ft. There’s also extensive parking, furnished production offices, a wide array of hotels, restaurants and shopping nearby and easy access to Reno Tahoe Airport. The flight to Southern California takes about one hour.
Las Vegas itself has a few studios for smaller projects. These include Vegaswood Studios and Indie Film Factory, which opened in 2011 having raised funding from IndieGoGo.
There were recent reports in the Nevada media that local business people and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman had been exploring the possibility of using part of the Cashman Center as a studio for hire. For that project to go ahead around $750,000 in upfront investment would be required for the fit-out, as well as permission for change of use from the local authorities. The introduction of Nevada film tax incentives has made the need for a Las Vegas-based studio complex more front of mind.
There’s more to Nevada than the Las Vegas casino strip. The Nevada Film Office singles out “picturesque lakes, majestic mountains, ghost towns, working and abandoned mines, desert playas, scenic roads, grassy valleys, and ranches.” Specific sites include Mount Charleston (11,916 feet, snow-capped for half of the year); the Valley Of Fire, which offers Martian-style landscapes; and Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful natural locations in the US. Tahoe featured prominently in Godfather II, when Fredo Corleone is murdered while on a “fishing trip”.
Nevada has about 50,000 miles of paved road, some of it featured in films like The Visitors, Lethal Weapon 4, Vanishing Point, Breakdown, and Rain Man. “Whether you’re looking for a lonely road that stretches for miles and miles, a road with extra-terrestrials, UFO sightings and a black mailbox near a top secret government base, or endless roads running through unoccupied desert terrain and brilliant red rock formations, your camera will find it in Nevada,” says the Film Office.
Other iconic locations include the Hoover Dam, which has been in movies since before it opened in 1935, and continues to appear regularly in productions including Transformers, Miss Congeniality 2 and Tony Scott’s 2005 film Domino.
Nevada has a good crew base and some well-equipped rental firms. Big Vision Rentals, for example, offers a wide-range of state of the art cameras/equipment and has worked on everything from commercials to a 12-stage super concert festival. Post-production houses include 808 Post. For full listings of production service providers in Nevada - check out our listings page.