A nonprofit that brings independent movies to Utah audiences is getting more deeply involved in giving support to the production side of indie film.
The Utah Film Center, which presents the annual Tumbleweeds and Damn These Heels film festivals in Salt Lake City, is acquiring the Avrec Art House, a production and coworking space for independent filmmakers.
The filmmaking service is being renamed the Artist Foundry, and the Utah Film Center has hired its founder, Dallin Cerva, to be its manager.
The Artist Foundry, based at 320 S. 300 East in Salt Lake City, offers meeting space, a screening room and editing bays for independent filmmakers who pay a membership fee. It also gives workshops and training in movie skills.
Cerva said he created the service in 2015, a couple of years after he graduated from Brigham Young University, because he was discouraged to find many of his media arts classmates leaving Utah for work in Los Angeles or New York.
“There just wasn’t really an infrastructure for people who want to get into independent filmmaking in Utah,” Cerva said.
In addition to physical space for filmmakers to meet, run casting sessions or edit footage, Cerva said, “the most valuable resource is having a network of other filmmakers like you trying to make movies.”
The acquisition allows the Artist Foundry to plug into the filmmakers who have shown their works at Utah Film Center screenings, Cerva said. Joining forces also means Utah’s independent moviemakers can connect to the film center’s audiences.
“When people care about the art created in their own community," Cerva said, “that art has so much more value.”
Elisabeth Nebeker, the Utah Film Center’s executive director, said the addition of the Artist Foundry “is really an extension of our artists’ support” that is a third of the center’s mission, alongside exhibition and education.
The main support the film center has given artists has been through fiscal sponsorship, a program that started in 2008. Fiscal sponsorship allows the film center to collect donations and grant money raised by an independent film production, so the production doesn’t have to go through the complex business of forming its own nonprofit.
The Utah Film Center has provided such sponsorship to some 120 films, most of them documentaries, including Sundance Film Festival entries such as “Dolores,” “In Football We Trust” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
One of the Artist Foundry’s most successful programs is the production-assistant training program, which it runs in conjunction with the Utah Film Commission, the government agency that facilitates movie and TV production in the state.
The program has given nearly 50 people training in how to work as an assistant on a film set. Cerva said graduates of the program have landed jobs on Paramount Network’s melodrama “Yellowstone” and the Disney Channel’s “Andi Mack,” both TV series shot in Utah.
“Those classes are not difficult to fill up,” Cerva said.
Editor’s note • The reporter of this article is married to an employee of the Utah Film Center’s education department.