A film crew will be using the highways of western Nebraska for a production next week, according to discussion at Monday’s Scotts Bluff County Commissioner’s meeting.
Scottsbluff Economic Development Director Starr Lehl submitted a special permit application on behalf of Belvedere Productions LLC, of Cincinnati, Ohio. She told commissioners she had been contacted earlier this year as a film crew sought an '80s-era gas station for its production. Harry’s Truck Stop in Minatare came to mind, and the production company selected the area to film.
The film production crew plans to film in two locations on Monday, June 14, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Highway 26 between County Road 30, also known as Stonegate Road, and County Road 31 and north of Scottsbluff on Highway 71, north of Highway 26 to the Scotts Bluff County border.
Alex Eldridge, producing consultant of Belvedere Productions, answered questions of commissioners, explaining that filming would occur in 90-second increments and the roadway would be closed during that time to ensure that only '80s-era vehicles are on the roadway.
“(The film) takes place in 1988, so we can’t have a 2016 model car driving through or anything like that,” he said. “When we are on Highway 71, we’re mainly concerned with safety issues around our crew that’s going to be there. It will not be the entire crew. It’ll be a very small group of people only doing driving work with that landscape.”
Flaggers would be used to open and close the road to traffic, so neither highway would be closed during the entire time.
Scotts Bluff County Commissioner Charlie Knapper said that the county is able to gain control of the roadways, though they are both state highways, for designated periods of time, which allows the county to grant such permits for filming. Lehl said she had already been in contact with local Nebraska Department of Transportation representative Doug Hoevet.
Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman did comment that he had just learned of the application. When working with film crews in the past, such as the Street Outlaws production, he said he had been able to research film crews in the past and do background checks, as well as other research.
“I don’t know if you’ve done this before, I assume you have. When we’ve worked with professional companies, it’s always been just fine. But, the way that the law works in Nebraska, the state says you can use that, but the county has to accept all the liability. So, you’re asking all the commissioners to accept the liability.”
He said the film company needed to work with law enforcement on its plans, and should have already done so.
“I’m not going to recommend that they deny you because we want you guys to come here and be successful,” he said.
Scotts Bluff County Highway Superintendent Linda Grummert said that in the past, she has made some minor suggestions to road closures. However, she said, the company has employed a traffic control company out of North Platte, the same used by previous film crews, and no problems were expected.
In a quick review of the film production's insurance information, Scotts Bluff County Attorney Dave Eubanks indicated he didn’t see any issues. Eldridge seemed apologetic for any oversights, and indicated that they may have come because the film crews didn’t plan to spend a lot of time in the highway areas and impacting traffic.
Commissioners approved the application, contingent on no problems arising in evaluations by law enforcement, the county attorney’s office or roads department.