Wake-Up Call: Back to the future

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It was 1969 all over again yesterday, when Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill that, as of July 1, 2009, will establish the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media.

Re-establishes that office, actually: On July 1, 1969, Colorado became the first state in the country with a state film commission -- one that was disengaged from official status years ago during budget cuts. In the meantime, other states set up their own commissions; in some cases -- most notably that of New Mexico -- they also came up with such hefty incentive packets that they now have relatively booming film industries. In contrast, Colorado's filmmaking work, which might have hit its heyday during all those Perry Mason movies, has dwindled to a trickle.

The Colorado legislators who pushed through HB 1010 are still working on this state's incentive possibilities; at yesterday's signing celebration, it was enough that the commission was back in business.

"'We all know movies are fun and a great distraction, but there is more to it than that," said state senator Dan Gibbs, whose fantasy job is to be a "stunt double" -- maybe executing one of those "Oh, shit" jumps from 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which was partly filmed in Colorado (and excerpted at the announcement).

"By encouraging more films to be made in Colorado, we will stimulate our economy, get more Colordans to work, and grow more Colorado businesses," he added. "And we'll be able to see Colorado locations on the big screen. What's better than that?"

Maybe more Butch Cassidy, less Perry Mason.

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