Utah Film Center Artist-in-Residence
Amy Redford is happy to call Utah home again, and not just because her large-for-Los-Angeles family of five is typical here. As the daughter of actor Robert Redford and historian Lola Van Wagenen (who was born in Provo and is descended from Utah pioneers), Amy has fond memories of spending time in the mountains of Utah.
“My parents felt that with the encroaching pressures of celebrity and fame, it was important for all of us to have an experience outside the pressure-filled environment of New York. For my entire childhood, if my siblings and I weren’t in school in New York, we were at the Sundance (Mountain) Resort in Utah.”
Redford was appointed artist-in-residence at the Utah Film Center, so in 2018 she and her family moved to Salt Lake City. And while the state is new to her children, Redford says it feels like her life has come full circle.
“I think, in a sort of mythological way, you have to go far away to come home,” Redford says. “That’s sort of how I feel right now.”
Redford has lived and studied in New York, Los Angeles, London, Arizona and Colorado.
“All those places had their virtues,” she says. “But once I had a family of my own, my husband and I started asking what we want for our kids and what I want for myself as a creative and a professional. It became clear that this would be the healthiest and best move. This state has always been home, but we are also at a great moment of growth for Utah in all ways.”
Typically, artist-in-residence programs give creative professionals time and space away from their usual environment to create. In return, artists-in-residence support the local creative community. Redford hopes to contribute to the state’s economy by building the film industry.
“Part of my hope is to help businesses understand how important the film industry is to the state,” Redford says. “I want to help people realize how beneficial it could be, not only in the way stories are told but also in generating jobs that will help support communities. It is also a wonderful way to showcase what this state has to offer.”
Redford also plans to contribute through BetRed Stories, a production company she founded with Katy Bettner, that will be based out of Utah. She is on the board of trustees of the Sundance Institute and on the steering committee of The Opportunity Agenda, a social justice advocacy group.
Utah has often provided the inspiration for Redford’s filmmaking. Her desire to elevate the people of Oklahoma in one of her upcoming films, “60’ 6”,” written by Kevin Bernhardt, was fostered by what she learned in Utah.
Another, “Cowboys and Indians,” written by Tejal Desal, will be filmed in Southern Utah and is based on true experiences. The film’s main character is informed by Heidi Redd, a local rancher whom Redford met at an event in Utah. “The movie is about how these two communities — Hindus from Queens and ranchers from the American West — collide and the unlikely friendship that evolves between the two matriarchs of these communities,” Redford says. “I felt like if I was going to tell the story authentically, I need to listen to the experiences of people who are living it.”
Continuing a Legacy
Redford’s move to Utah and her one-year role as artist-in-residence is a great contribution to the film industry in Utah. But she says she receives as much as she gives.
“There’s a lot that my dad and Sundance have brought to the state,” Redford says. “But reciprocally, there’s a lot the state has brought to my family. It’s kind of a bizarre thing to pluck your three kids up from where they’ve lived and what they’ve known. I feel so grateful for the warmth that has been extended.”