“Welcome to Moab”

The film “Welcome to Moab” is screening daily at the Moab Information Center. [Photo courtesy Mark Finley / Finley-Holiday Films]

If you’re traveling to Moab, you might want to pause at the information center.

“Welcome to Moab” is a high-definition theater film playing at the Moab Information Center. Not only does it educate visitors about the area and all there is to do here, but it also encourages people to care about the land to ensure preservation for future generations.

“The film is stunning. It’s really beautiful,” said Moab Area Travel Council Executive Director Elaine Gizler. “I encourage all tourists and locals to see it. It’s cutting edge.”

The Moab Information Center (MIC) has long offered film screenings about the area, but after 20 years it was due for an updated version.

The Canyonlands Natural History Association and the Moab Area Travel Council hired Finley-Holiday Films of Southern California to make a new film, which may give locals, too, a newfound appreciation for what’s in their backyard.

Part of what makes the film, directed by Kevin Christensen, so moving is that it combines ultra high-definition footage, time-lapse photography and aerial views of the spectacular public lands surrounding Moab. Tourists are encouraged to begin their visit and become oriented to the area by coming to the MIC to watch the film.

The film was made and designed for screening at the Moab Information Center on a 15-foot screen, said Mark Finley, the film company’s president.

“It’s a nice little venue and the audio is good,” Finley said.

The MIC’s theater seats can accommodate about 100 people. The film is shown daily and upon request.

Canyonlands Natural History Association has been a longtime customer of Finley, whose father founded Finley-Holiday Films in the 1940s. The filmmaker said they’ve been talking for years about making an updated film of the area. The new film came out in 2017.

“I wanted to do something special,” Finley said. “It’s such a unique area. I came up with a way to produce it in 4K, a higher resolution. There’s not a lot of 4K content out there. No other national park has had a 4K theater film.”

The film includes footage, not only of Arches and Canyonlands national parks, but also other public lands surrounding Moab. The 18-minute movie features interviews with national park ranger Karen Garthwait and Bureau of Land Management paleontologist Rebecca Hunt-Foster, plus others.

Filmmakers worked with five different client organizations in the making of the film, including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Moab Area Travel Council, Utah state parks and the U.S. Forest Service.

“We made this film for a diverse group, including for all kinds of users such as mountain bikers, hikers, and Jeepers, which can be challenging,” Finley said.

The goal of the film is to spur visitors to care deeply about these public lands and educate tourists how best to be good stewards to preserve the landscape for future generations, Finley said. Filmmakers spent about a year making the film.

“We wanted to capture the springtime, the heat of July, snow in the winter; we wanted to capture the extremes of the landscape,” Finley said. “There’s a good conservation message in there. The film captures the Moab area —what’s special about it and that it’s worth taking care of — that’s the message of the film.”

For example, Garthwait is shown talking about the region’s unique cryptobiotic soil, and how to protect tiny life forms in the potholes found in the desert.

People need to have a personal connection to a place in order to care about protecting it, Finley said. Rules alone don’t work, he said.

“The locals I’ve shown the film to are eager to share it,” he said. “They appreciate that the film exists.”

In addition to the free screening, “Welcome to Moab” is available to purchase as a DVD at the MIC and online by visiting the Canyonlands Natural History Association website at www.cnha.org.

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