Zion releases trailer for new park film sharing stories of the park, its people

ST. GEORGE — The Zion National Park Forever Project is creating a new film to better meet the needs of today’s visitors by emphasizing conservation and telling the story of Zion through the eyes of its people.

The film will replace the one that currently plays every half hour in the Zion Human History Museum which is “outdated” at 20 years old.

“The video that plays is wonderful. No one is criticizing the existing video except that it is old. … It doesn’t reflect the dynamic and the actual reality in the park today,” Zion Forever Project executive director Lyman Hafen said.

The current video serves as an orientation film, made for a time when the park had half the visitors it does today and before the digital era that allows visitors to arrive at the park already equipped with basic orientation information.

“That film was more of an orientation to Zion, where to go, what to do, but we have found that many people, especially in the heat of the summer, head into the park as soon as they arrive and then tend to come inside in the afternoon to watch the film and enjoy the air conditioning in the Zion Human History Museum,” park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said.

The new, 23-minute film will take a different approach from the traditional national park orientation video. Instead, they hope to share the stories of actual people with a connection to the park as well as explain the natural history of the canyon and promote conservation. A trailer for the film was released to the public last week.

The interior of the Zion Human History Museum, Zion National Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

The Forever Project is working with officials at Zion National Park as well as Local Studio, a producer from Draper, to make the film. They estimate the project will take over a year to complete. They first began filming the project last summer, and it should be completed by this fall.

“We’ve been able to capture a full year of seasons in the park,” Hafen said.

The final product is set to be released at a premiere event Nov. 19 at Dixie State University, which will double as a centennial celebration of Zion becoming a national park.

The film will feature the stories of up to 10 people who will share what the park means to them, how they interact with it and how they are involved in protecting its future.

“We’ll have a variety of people in the film and we will hear their voices, rather than sort of an omniscient narrator who’s kind of telling us everything,” Hafen said.

Hikers explore The Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah, July 18, 2008 | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

Some of the “characters” in the film will include park rangers and naturalists, a rock climber, a canyoneer, a local farmer and an artist. It will also show Zion from the perspective of a child, a foreign visitor and a Paiute family.

The film will also talk about the Civilian Conservation Corps and the different eras of infrastructure and development in the area, including the building of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, Rockville and Springdale.

“The human history is key, and telling that story of the Native American presence here for all these centuries, and then the arrival of the Latter-day Saints, and the settlement of Springdale and Rockville, and all of those things,” Hafen said.

It will also include information about the resources and values of the park, including the geology of the canyon, its unique ecosystem and the water that flows through it.

“I think water is really going to actually be a character in the film, because water is really what has made this canyon and shaped it, not only physically, but has created its personality,” Hafen said. “And getting that water story, especially from the Native American perspective, is really, really exciting.”

Through the film, they hope to instill a sense of stewardship in visitors and hopefully encourage people to respect the park’s resources and support the conservation of the park.

We hope this film will be inspiring and help connect people on a deeper level to the resources protected by the park,” Baltrus said.

Even before they started, they knew they’d have too much material to fit into a 23-minute video. So, the Forever Project decided to create an expanded version of the film which will be around 50 minutes long and will be for sale in the park bookstore. The expanded version will likely be released sometime after the premiere of the museum version.

The orientation film that is currently being shown will also still be available for purchase in the bookstore.

To fund the film, the Forever Project raised money from private investors through the Zion Forever Project Field Guide, but because the expanded film will cost more, they are working on additional fundraising.

Hafen said that Washington County recently provided $100,000 to help pay for the film, which has gone a long way in helping to fund the project.

“We are so appreciative of the Washington County support for this film and that Greater Zion connection that we have,” he said.

The Forever Project has plans to enter the expanded version in film festivals in hopes of sharing the story of Zion and the Greater Zion area with people around the world.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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