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The Summit County Independent  

Springtime in the Rockies
Means Wintertime in the Catalog Business

By Tara Flanagan

Spring is a dicey thing here in the Colorado Rockies. If you've got deck weather and margaritas on your agenda, you can expect several whiteouts.

And if you are planning on snow--and not in the vacation sense, but in the sense of your bottom line depending on it--you've got a 50-50 chance of getting your way.

Lands' End, the clothing company based in Dodgeville, Wisc., didn't stand a chance when it came to shooting it's 2003 kids holiday catalog on the Dairy State's unusually warm home turf this spring, so it did what it frequently does and headed to Colorado.

Photo Courtesy of Wellington Neighborhood

Lands' End found plenty of snow in Breckenridge this week, when it shot its 2003 children's holiday catalog at several locations around Summit County, including the Wellington Neighborhood. From left: kid wrangler Carol Beaver, props specialist Beth Gordon and photo assistant Sherry Loeser get some sun in the 60-degree weather. Because the material contained in the catalog is very guarded information, children wearing the clothes are behind the white screen.

Photo Courtesy of Wellington Neighborhood

Ann Lukacs of Breckenridge, owner of the Lukacs & Associates production company, has worked several times with Lands' End. This year she turned the company on to the Wellington Neighborhood in Breckenridge, which offers a colorful backdrop of tightly knit, traditional-looking homes and farther back, the ski area.

And as an added bonus this year, the "greens" or common properties for the pods of homes, are still chest-deep in snow on the average adult. If you're a little kid getting your picture taken, it's compact enough that you can walk on top of it.

Wellington developer David O'Neil added that the 60-degree weather earlier this week certainly didn't hurt the Lands' End crew when they descended on Breckenridge in a Winnebago loaded with props.

Twenty-some Colorado kids had been pre-screened for the shoot out of 250 applicants, and were juxtaposed with, among other things, golden retrievers trained to smile on command. The wet snow was perfect for a snowman, and if cute was the objective, cute was certainly the result.

"We worked hard to make it a win-win situation for everybody," Lukacs said.

In addition to finding locations for shoots, she also pills together details such as lodging for crews. When she's not working for other people, she's usually got her own filmmaking on the burner. With 20 years of cinematography to her name, she's worked on films such as "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "The Blues Brothers." She's currently working on her own piece about bareback riders, entitled "Long Ride Home."

She got her start locally in 1989, when "Christmas Vacation," starring Chevy Chase, was filmed in and around Breckenridge. (A logging truck scene was filmed north of Silverthorne.)

Since that time, she's acquired a large photo library of the area, which clients can refer to when seeking that perfect backdrop for a movie, car commercial, or catalog shoot featuring little kids.

When in town last week, Lands' End did some shoots at the Breckenridge Golf Course (this time the dog props took the form of Goof Times dogsleds), and the perennial source of snow, A-Basin. Over the years the ski area has bailed out more than one advertising shoot that required snow, Lukacs said. This time it wasn't an issue of snow as much as just needing a ski area for a ski-clothing segment.

In past years, companies have had to get extremely creative when Colorado's weather has come up short for winter catalogs or any other medium requiring snow. Lukacs, a long time resident of Summit County, has a pretty good idea of where the absolute last stashes of snow can be found, including nooks in the forest and high-alpine terrain. And when the snow's just not there, there's such a thing as a white foam carpet that looks reasonably close to the real thing.

She says she has another catalog client who plans to come out in June for a snow shoot. It might be tough, even with last month's record snows

"That's where my job gets real creative," she says.