June 18, 2013 Updated: June 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm
The first TV series to be filmed in Colorado in more than two decades will shoot its first scenes next month in Telluride.
Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that the Hallmark Channel is launching "When Calls the Heart" a show set in a 19th century frontier town and based on a novel by Janette Oke about a young teacher coming west from an affluent lifestyle.
Six episodes are contracted now for the series but the producer Brad Krevoy - who was a producer of Dumb and Dumber - said he hopes to shoot more than 100 episodes over five years.
Krevoy said casting calls will begin in Denver for the show and encouraged anyone interested to try for a role and a chance to join lead actors Erin Krakow, from the TV show Army Wives, and Daniel Lissing. Both actors were at the Capitol Tuesday to help the governor announce the show.
Hickenlooper used the opportunity to tout tax credits that are available for movie and TV productions because of legislation he signed into law last year. The tax credits could mean up to $2.7 million in state funds for Hallmark over the next five years depending on how much its state tax liability is for production.
"We've said right from the beginning that Colorado is a natural fit for the film industry," Hickenlooper said, adding that the state's talent and natural beauty will enhance the series.
The Office of Economic Development estimated the series will bring 200 jobs and $15 million in economic impact to the state.
A replica mining town from the 1890s will be built outside Telluride and much of the series will be shot there.
Lawmakers attempted this year to expand the film incentives offered by the state, but it was not included in the state's budget.
"When we were introducing this legislation in 2012 there were a lot of naysayers, who would say this will not bring jobs to Colorado," said House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver. "Maybe this will change their minds when we vote on the budget next year."
Krevoy declined to say how much in state tax credits are expected in the course of filming the first six episodes.
Contact Megan Schrader