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‘Street Outlaws’ part of uptick in film productions shooting in Wyoming amid COVID-19

Crew members film in downtown Casper during the late hours of July 2020 (Trevor T. Trujillo, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming has been seeing an increase in the number of film and television productions taking place in the state since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Wyoming Film Office Creative Assests Manager Charles Lammers.

“The Wyoming Film Office constantly receives inquiries about filming within the state of Wyoming,” Lammers said Wednesday in an email to Oil City. “Due to the recent havoc that coronavirus has caused in major filming hot-spots such as Los Angeles and New York, we have seen an uptick in the number of film requests and actual film productions occurring in the state.”

Lammers shared an estimate of production spending surrounding the shooting of “Street Outlaws” in Natrona County this July. Pilgrim Media have been overseeing the production of episodes of “Street Outlaws” for the Discovery Channel in the county this summer and may film more episodes on Casper’s Amoco Road in coming weeks.

“A rough estimate provided by Ron Carr, location manager for Pilgrim Media, is that they have spent close to $1 million on the production,” Lammers sad. “That is, of course, spread among a number of industries while the production is happening. These range from equipment rentals for lights and barriers, hotel rooms, catering, first aid services, and permitting, just to name a few.”

Visit Casper CEO and Natrona County Commissioner Brook Kaufman said in an email to Oil City on Monday that the “Street Outlaws” production has generated an estimated $1.8 million for the local economy. Natrona County Commission Chair Rob Hendry put the figure at north of $2 million on Tuesday.

While Carr provided an estimate of production costs, Kaufman noted other factors like spending on dining, entertainment and recreation while the cast and crew were working in the area.

“I have heard from members of my team that they purchased 2-3 vehicles while they were here,” Kaufman added. “They’ve also spent money at Alcova Marina, Wyoming Gun Company, at local hotels (on lodging) and in many of our restaurants.”

Hendry said that “Street Outlaws” cast or crew have purchased auto parts locally and that he has heard from local restaurant owners that the television production’s presence provided a significant boost to their businesses.

Lammers said that attracting film and television productions to the state is an effort his office, which is part of the Wyoming Office of Tourism, engages in.

“The Wyoming Film Office has done a lot of outreach in the past to lure production companies to the state, including film location scout trips, industry trade-shows and memberships with organizations such as the AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International),” he explained.

 Lammers said that Wyoming does not have a state-level permitting program in place and that permit costs can vary depending on where a shoot is occurring.

“For a production the size of the Street Outlaws production, it can range anywhere from $200-10,000 depending upon the needs of the production and is made directly with the location being filmed in (National Park Service, counties, cities, etc),” he said. “The only funding that the state receives are from the tax dollars that are generated from the production revenue while crews are in the state.”

In the case of “Street Outlaws,” Wyoming Department of Transportation Senior Public Relations Specialist Jeff Goetz said that the production company received a permit to film on the West Belt Loop in Natrona County from WYDOT at no cost. He said that the permit to allow the closure of the road is something available to groups organizing other activities like parades. Natrona County had to agree to allow the permit to be issued, according to Goetz.

Lammers said in regard to film or television productions generally, production companies are usually billed for any additional services that agencies provide beyond whatever permit is issued. He said these services are generally billed at cost.

WYDOT and Natrona County said that the “Street Outlaws” production was reimbursing them for services these agencies rendered, such as Natrona County Sheriff’s Office personnel time. Goetz added that Pilgrim Media was contracting a local company to conduct street maintenance on the West Belt Loop, including removing tire marks from the bypass.

When a production company expresses interest in filming in Wyoming, Lammers says the first step the Wyoming Film Office takes is to vet the production. He said that includes looking to address questions about the production such as the following:

  • Do they have insurance?
  • Are they likely to film in Wyoming?
  • Will there be any stunts or potential damages to people, animals, or infrastructure?

Once the Wyoming Film Office conducts such vetting efforts, production companies are “then directed to the appropriate locale where filming will occur for additional ‘vetting,'” Lammers explained. “Permitting is then negotiated on a case-by-case basis.”

In the case of “Street Outlaws,” the Wyoming Film Office directed the production company to WYDOT who helped identify the West Belt Loop as a potential production location since the roadway could accommodate the needs of the show.

Lammers says that the Wyoming Film Office is able to provide location, crew and permitting assistance for productions interested in filming in the state.

“Wyoming isn’t what many people have on the top of their mind when they think of ‘film,'” he added. “However, Wyoming offers very low-costs and great opportunities for filmmakers compared to other states.”

“With our low population, gorgeous natural landscapes, and open mindedness to new business ideas, everything from commercial productions for major car brands to feature film productions continue to increase filming in Wyoming. We are seeing a trend of productions moving from more traditional filming locations to our state. We hope to see that trend continue and are working hard to support the film industry within Wyoming.” 

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.