Ready for Your Close-Up: Leadville in the Pictures

by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today Contributor

Leadville continues to draw players in the film industry as it has steadily for the last decade. Premieres and shooting crews are popping up right outside the front door, and as anyone who lives here knows, for good reason.

Last Wednesday, Nov. 16, the latest episode of the Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS) program Colorado Experience premiered in the Lake County High School auditorium. Chronicling the life and loves of Leadville’s H. A. W. Tabor, “The Tabors” publicly aired on RMPBS in its usual Thursday 7:30 p.m. slot on November 17. Happen to miss it? Watch the episode and the rest of the series here.


Colorado Experience airs Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS.

Colorado Experience is in its fourth season highlighting past and present achievements of the Centennial State: documenting the boom-and-bust of cities, pioneers and political figures; examining the natural landmarks, tragedies, and cultural leaps that have helped put the “color” in Colorado. Most recently they feature Leadville’s famous love triangle, the story of Silver King Horace Tabor, whose name is branded into every Leadvillian’s vocabulary. Their visit is part of the Colorado Experience Road Show, “a ten-stop statewide tour celebrating Colorado history and original television content.”


Rocky Mountain PBS program, Colorado Experience, presented to Leadville by Julie Speer and Donald Zuckerman. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

Producer/Director of the Emmy Award winning series Julie Speer presented the screening alongside Colorado Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman. “The Tabors,” and an earlier episode from the season, “Suffrage,” was shown to an audience that included a few of the same Leadville faces that were on screen: Tabor Opera House fixture Tammy Taber, Mayor Greg Labbe, and National Mining Hall of Fame Curator Stephanie Johnson. “Suffrage” documented Colorado as the forerunner in a national movement of equal voting rights which took place in the late 19th century.


Tammy Taber is the authority on Tabor Opera House lore. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

This isn’t the first time Leadville has been in pictures, and it won’t be the last. Crews come through every year, seeking either the postcard backdrop or off-road splendor to be featured in car commercials, short films and documentaries.

On December 6 and 7, a small independent film crew will be coming to town to film a post-apocalyptic feature-length film, Starfish. Written and directed by Al White and produced by Aldo Jovan Diaz, it will be the first project shot under the newly founded Leadville Film Commission.

Expect road closures on E. 5th Street, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on December 6, and on E. 7th Street from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for the production of Starfish.

Leadville will continue to draw the film industry as it grows rapidly across the state. The Colorado Office of Film Television Media (COFTM) is working hard to expand the current state budget of $3 million per year to something similar to New Mexico’s $50 million per year. And the idea is catching. Among the largest budgeted films recently shot in Colorado are Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and latest in the Fast and Furious franchise, Furious 7. colorado-film-logo

Low population density, historical architecture, and virgin landscape are some of the reasons why Leadville will naturally draw the industry of larger-than-life art, and why life in Leadville is like living out a movie everyday.

Brennan Ruegg attended the Los Angeles Film School and has been Leadville Today contributor for nearly two years. Email him at