Lights. Roll camera. Action.

There’s no business like show business. For the last 100 years in film making, Ely has been chosen by entertainment and production companies from around the world, each setting their sights, pointing their cameras, and filming in our towns and rural backyards for films, commercials, music videos and television shows. 

White Pine’s show-stopping photogenic locations illustrate the stunning character of the open west; with historic buildings, deep mines, fresh water springs, trains, majestic mountain ranges, and rich tapestries of landscapes, our Eastern Nevada home provides plenty of technicolor art perfect for the widescreen.  

To celebrate our cinematic history and breathtakingly beautiful background locations, this year, Ely and White Pine County residents are getting the old Hollywood treatment with the inaugural Ely Film Festival, set to debut the weekend of March 13-15.

Organized by the White Pine Main Street Committee, White Pine Tour and Rec, and Ely Central Theater, The Ely Film Festival will give the community the chance to host its very own red carpet event to showcase international short films shot right here in Ely and White Pine County.  In what hopes to become an annual event, students from White Pine County and Eskdale are also being given the opportunity to light the lights, point their lenses and shoot their shot to become filmmakers themselves, with a special student film category. 

The Ely Film Festival will showcase a few select feature cinematic creations that have filmed here over the years while also giving festival attendees the chance to meet the directors and crews to engage in discussion about those films.  

With this new artistic and creative opportunity being introduced, local students will get to talk to the pros and get to play their parts as directors, set designers, writers, cinematographers, and actors. Every student is encouraged to submit their own short film. 

In a three-day event, this inaugural Ely Film Festival feels more like an established Sundance or Toronto Film Festival with everything it has to offer visitors: Informative panel discussions, cocktail mixers, meet and greets, special awards, feature debuts of locally shot student films, and a world premiere screening of Reaptown, a film made by local White Pine alum turned big time movie maker, Dutch Marich.

This year’s festival will be featuring films like, “The Great Darkened Days”, a film that won five Canadian Oscars, out of eight nominations, last year and another film by Marich, “Dark Hand.”

Every year the festival will feature professionally made films from past or present that have ties to Ely and White Pine County. As a special feature of this local Film Festival, visitors and attendees get to visit the sets and interact with the locations in the films. 

Friday March 13

Opening Luncheon, noon

Panel 1: Running Down A Dream (Central Theater) 1 p.m.

Panel 2: What it takes to be a location 2 p.m.

Panel 3: Creative: How to get the shot 3 p.m.

Art Bank Mixer 4 p.m.

Movie: The Great Darkened Days (Central Theater) 6 p.m.

w/ Director discussion to follow

Saturday March 14

Film Location Tour (NNRY) 10 a.m.

Panel 1: Videography with drones (Postal Palace) 1 p.m.

Event: Locally made short videos and commercials (Postal Palace) 2:30 p.m.

Event: 5 minute Student Film Contest Movies & Awards (Postal Palace) 3 p.m.

World Premiere: Reaptown by Dutch Marich (Central Theater) 6 p.m.

Director discussion to follow

Movie: Dark Hand by Dutch Marich (Central Theater) 9 p.m.

Sunday March 15

Train Excursion (Nevada Northern Railway) 9:30 a.m.

Attendees are invited to join on a memorable train ride Sunday morning on the same historic steam train used in the films viewed during the festival.

The White Pine Main Street Committee, an organization formed to encourage economic growth and development in Ely and White Pine County, created this opportunity to bring broader attention to what our home has to offer.  

Bill Wolf and Ann Kellogg, who sit on the committee, are leading the project.  Wolf said, “I think for this first year, one of the big points for me especially, is there is so much cool stuff that goes on here that I hope that the whole community gets involved.” 

Tickets for all movie times are available at

Kellogg, who brought the idea to the group, emphasises that there is a deeper meaning behind the movie making, 

“Having the student component is going to hopefully inspire, even one young person, to dream big, because there are so many great jobs out there that have to do with motion pictures and film and entertainment: lighting, construction, transportation, electrical, set design, it’s endless the amount of opportunity in this industry,” Kellogg said. “We hope students start to see and think more broadly, that they can be an electrician or work in construction, but work on a movie like Star Wars or work as a camera person using drones.”  

The economic impact of a film festival coming to a small town, especially in a rural area has boundless potential and was a main motivation for the Main Street group.  

Kellogg, who has roots in the entertainment field, said, “There is something like about 60 people behind the actors that you see on screen. There are the drivers, hair and makeup people, caterers, hotels and accommodations, location scouts, lighting and set designers, the cinematographers, so many different businesses and people supporting the finished product.”  

The more attention brought to the area as welcoming and supportive locations for the entertainment industry, the more investment they will potentially make in the community.

With experience in the entertainment fields, Kellogg understands what production companies are looking for. She said, “Nevada is ripe for film, but Ely is particularly interesting because we have so many great buildings and so many eras of architecture like on Aultman. All around us, so many people have such cool stuff and terrific locations to film.”

Local students can get experience seeing what locally and professionally shot films look like while having the chance to flex their own creative talents shooting their own short to showcase on the big screen.

2020 will bring many memorable community events this year and with the Ely Film Festival, Kellogg underscores that. “Ultimately, this is really a celebration of our community. What we are trying to do is to build in ways to gather and to learn, and to see how special where we live really is,” she said.

With all things creative and social in White Pine County, the sky’s the limit. 

The Ely Times is a sponsor the Inaugural Ely Film Festival and will bring additional stories and updates as the March 13-15 weekend approaches.