Aurora TV producer: Who needs L.A., N.Y.?

Marla R. Keown/Associated Press
Rusty Corbit, a senior media manager, checks for audio levels on tapes at High Noon Intertainment in Aurora. Enlarge photo

Marla R. Keown/Associated Press Rusty Corbit, a senior media manager, checks for audio levels on tapes at High Noon Intertainment in Aurora.

AURORA (AP) – It’s easy to get lost in one of the editing rooms at the Aurora offices of High Noon Entertainment.

Located in an unassuming office park off Parker Road, the company’s Colorado headquarters is only one of three. The film and television company that creates cable programs like “Cake Boss” and “Tough Love” also has offices in New York and Los Angeles, but its roots are local. The company launched in Denver in 1997 and moved to its 30,000-square-foot headquarters in Aurora a little more than a year ago.

The space is sprawling – wandering through High Noon’s networks of cubicles and rows of identical offices is disorienting. But standing in the cramped confines of one of the company’s main editing rooms is even more overwhelming. Watching multiple images beam across a massive screen, hearing the hum of a 64-terabyte server in the background and watching the blinking lights of a full wall of tape machines and editing equipment is downright surreal.

“With the building that we used to be in, we were kind of restricted by what the structure already was,” said Rusty Corbit, a High Noon media supervisor who’s been with the company for seven years. As he spoke, images from multiple shows flickered on a giant screen at the front of the room. “For this building, we got to plan a year in advance and plan the schematics for how we wanted our setup made. This entire room was designed by me and a few others to be exactly what we wanted for our workflow.”

Corbit’s workspace has impressed many visitors, including local legislators who supported the film incentive bill that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed at High Noon’s Aurora offices in May. The legislation ramps up the tax incentives that Colorado offers production companies to shoot in the state from 10 to 20 percent; it also aims to make it easier for film and television companies to secure loans. The legislation is part of a push to support the local industry, even as it’s a bid to bring in filmmakers, producers and directors from elsewhere in the U.S.

It’s taken several attempts to get the incentives legislation passed, and the founders of High Noon say it took input from local filmmakers to make the effort successful. Walking local lawmakers through High Noon’s editing and sound rooms gave the push more weight, said High Noon Chief Operating Officer Duke Hartman.

“The governor supported it, and he put money in his budget for it. He knew film financing well. It was the overall push of the industry; it wasn’t us alone. But I think our involvement helped,” Hartman said. “In these hour-and-a-half, two-hour tours – they were all fascinated to see how a show like ‘Cake Boss’ was put together. You get them back in the edit rooms, you’ve got the story rooms where you’re evolving the episodes, you’ve got the finishing rooms, the graphics rooms.

“I think they saw what was happening in town that they really didn’t know about,” Hartman added.

In 1997, Hartman founded High Noon with fellow local media veterans Jim Berger and Sonny Hutchison. The trio had roots in the Denver television news business, and after contributing to documentary programming for the Discovery Channel, they created their own company with a specific mission in mind.

“It’s evolved over the years, for sure, but television programming is what we do. We create it, we develop it, we pitch it, we sell it, then we turn around and produce it as well,” Hartman said. “Our mission and what we do is nonscripted TV that runs the gamut from pure documentary to some of the house reality shows that we produce.”

From “Cake Boss,” a reality show based in Hoboken, N.J., that follows a family-run cake business, to shows like “Trip Flip,” a program that follows American travelers making their way through international locales, High Noon stresses content rooted in real-time situations. The genre demands a broad scope of work – the company shoots on international sets and employs crews from across the country. Last year, the company delivered 500 episodes of 26 different television series to 14 networks.

Hartman says High Noon has never lost its Colorado focus, even as the scope of work grew and the company opened offices in New York and L.A. in the last 10 years.

“This is the headquarters. This is where our big capital investment is, where we have all our post-production facilities,” he said. “Being in Colorado was never really a problem. There were some cost advantages in the early days of doing it out of Denver.”

That local emphasis was a key part of finally making the film incentive legislation a reality, he added.

“I think it’s a nice start.” I think it’s a modest start. Unlike states like Louisiana and New Mexico that are doing millions and millions of dollars in incentives, we’ve got a $3 million incentive bill passed,” Hartman said. “We’re going to start off small, but I think we can show good results to the Legislature.”

Marla R. Keown/Associated Press
Rusty Corbit, a senior media manager, and Duke Hartman, a founder of the Aurora-based High Noon Entertainment in 1997, watch over six different feeds of video. Enlarge photo

Marla R. Keown/Associated Press Rusty Corbit, a senior media manager, and Duke Hartman, a founder of the Aurora-based High Noon Entertainment in 1997, watch over six different feeds of video.

Marla R. Keown/Associated Press
Last year, Aurora’s High Noon Entertainment created 500 episodes of shows for 14 networks. Jim Boardman, a senior audio engineer, describes his daily duties. Enlarge photo

Marla R. Keown/Associated Press Last year, Aurora’s High Noon Entertainment created 500 episodes of shows for 14 networks. Jim Boardman, a senior audio engineer, describes his daily duties.