Filmed in Your Backyard


Justin Prather

Snow Canyon State Park outside St. George, Utah. (Photo by Justin Prather | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Madge Slack

If you are new to Utah, you might find yourself thinking about how strange this state is. From towering mountains in the east to vast white nothingness in the west and dry red heat in the south, we have quite the range of landscapes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, described it as “an arid and repulsive desert, which for many a long year served as the barrier against the advance of civilization.”  Now, Coyles’ words might be a bit of an exaggeration, particularly since he never visited Utah, but he did get some of his descriptions right: “Nor is Nature always in one mood throughout this grim district.” There are certainly “inhabitants of this land of despair,” contrary to Doyle’s assertions in one of his earliest mysteries, A Study in Scarlet— which is where all of the above quotes come from. Utah, in reality, boasts a robust history of eclectic people, and our unique landscape has attracted more than a few stars as well.

Disney’s “High School Musical” you might have heard of it as either an actual musical, or as one of the three movies and a few spin-offs. As many theater students know, HSM was filmed just a few blocks over from the University of Utah at East High. While the students aren’t the Wildcats today, the leopards are a close second, and Sharpay’s locker remains for those who want to go take pictures.

You cannot take pictures of Disney’s exact locations for “Andi Mack” yet, as they are currently filming it. They have been shooting and hiring local workers to maintain their set out on Magna’s Main St. “Andi Mack” is a popular children’s TV show which premiered only last year. Already, the show is top rated among girls. It features a primary gay character, a first for Disney, and has won awards for its coming out story.

Utah hasn’t just been home to kids shows, though. Remember the blockbuster pirate franchise featuring Johnny Depp? Well, part of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” was also filmed here in Utah. It turns out Davy Jones’s locker is only about a two hour drive from Salt Lake City. Maybe Doyle was a little right in his description of Utah after all I have never seen any of those cute white crabs on the salt flats. The flats, however, do make for fun photo shoots and serve for car commercials that are filmed out there.

Will Smith also made an appearance out on the salt while filming “Independence Day.” Not my idea of fun, but he probably got paid a lot of money to crash his plane and punch an alien in the face. He got a cigar too, so all in all, not a bad day.  

Down south, you’ll find the sites where Johnny Depp shot “Lone Ranger.” He seemed to really like it there. If you look closely, you’ll notice some of the rock formations from Moab and Monument Valley next to the horses and general red dust in the movie. It’s a different kind of skyline, but just as recognizable if you know what’s up.

Finally, we turn to a classic. “The Sandlot” may have been set in California, but it was filmed here in Midvale. You can go to the addresses of both Benny’s and Scotty’s houses. If you are a really big fan you can even go to the field where the boys played at 1388 Glenrose Drive in Salt Lake City.

You may be a little down with all this heat, but just remember the stars feel it too. We live in a really cool, super diverse place and you can always escape into the mountains or into a theater for a good movie whichever you prefer.

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