Filmmakers in the Grand Valley

Two grand valley filmmakers hope for the future of Colorado film
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 5:53 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Cameras, photography, and summer camp are several starting points for two filmmakers is the grand valley.

“I was at summer camp when I was about 11,” says Hank Braxtan, a film producer who shot his first movie on VHS around 30 years ago. He credits the camp’s proposed activity for his beginning in the world of cinema.

A quick Google search will prove that was just the start of his journey.

He’s produced 37 films, directed 21, and has written 14 scripts.

“The film industry in Colorado has been slowly growing for a long time. And that’s based on having incentives,” says Braxtan.

Grand Junction is not comparable to Los Angeles, with smaller pools of talent and fewer resources. With incentives, Colorado could see more films being produced.

“What an incentive does is it provides tax benefits to filmmakers that make stuff here,” said Braxtan. “What that does is it incentivizes them to produce things here and to spend money here.”

For now, Levi Kramer says finances are one of the biggest challenges for filmmakers in western Colorado.

“We have put a lot of effort into this and gotten investors on, but we don’t have enough money to bring people away from their jobs to do this,” said Kramer.

He’s a director and commercial DP for 14k Medias, a production company in town. He says that it’s hard to find actors in a pool so small as the valley.

There’s a demand for talented filmmakers outside of movies.

“We’re going to companies that haven’t done any film or photo work for their brand whatsoever. And we want to do branding work for them, help people see their website in a better light and work like that,” says Kramer.

He hopes the new deputy film commissioner, Arielle Brachfeld, has a plan to bring more talent to the state.

We interviewed Brachfeld last week, and she told us landscapes in the state enrich production value and deserve to be on screen. Which in turn could bring in tourism.

Her husband believes she’s got what it takes to perform well in the position.

“She’s been the business side of all my movies,” Braxtan said, “The wants to expand that to other rural areas in Montrose, Delta, Craig, like get out to all these places and get, get kids doing art, when they’re in high school, expand a middle school, you know, like, show them away, like you can do this.”

Braxtan says art is more important than math because, “Art is what makes people whole humans.”

To those aspiring to break into the industry, these two have some advice...

“If you want to be a filmmaker, you’re a filmmaker. You’re the only one stopping you.” Said Braxtan, and as for Kramer— He leaves you with this: “It’s about being proactive and taking the first step to like push into it.”