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Frontier feature Wind River filmed in Utah

Wind RiverModern-day frontier movie Wind River filmed on location in Utah to tell the story of a murder investigation on a Native American reservation in central Wyoming.

The real Wind River Reservation is one of the largest in the US, spanning nearly 3.4m square miles in western Wyoming. 

Writer/director Taylor Sheridan chose to shoot his Wind River movie 250 miles away in Park City, Utah, where movies and TV shows can claim a base 20% filming incentive. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen star in the movie.

“We used Park City Film Studios as a production base but filmed mainly on location on the Wasatch Back,” said Michael Chickey, location manager on Wind River, in comments to KFTV.

The Wasatch Range forms the western edge of the Rocky Mountains and stretches around 160 miles through central Utah. 

One of the biggest challenges was getting the snowy visuals needed for the story, which unfolds following the discovery of a body after a snowstorm. 

“The shoot ended up extending into the spring so we kept having to go to higher ground to find snow,” Chickey said. “We filmed where we found snow on the ground and used snow machines to produce snowfall when needed.”

For more on filming in Utah and for local contacts see our production guide

Utah is not known as a production hub for big-budget shoots – Wind River cost $13.2m – but does attract a steady number of smaller productions.

Sheridan is set to return to the state as showrunner on TV series Yellowstone, which will follow a family-run ranch that finds its borders under threat.

“Utah is a really unique location as the mountains are so close to the city,” said Sheridan of the project. “Coupled with its incentive programme, experienced crew and the Park City Studios, I think Utah is at the forefront of what will become a much bigger film industry.”

Images: Fred Hayes/The Weinstein Company