“My parents didn’t know what to name me. They called me ‘Baby B’. I named myself when I was three, in an elevator in New York City. I was saying, ‘I wanna be bigger’ trying to reach the button.”
In her toddler voice, “Bigger” came out “Be-ga”. And that’s how Bega Metzner, the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission Director, got her name.
Growing up in New York City, Bega became familiar with fashion and production. “I grew up in those worlds,” she said. Her mom is a photographer and her dad was a TV commercial director. As she got older, she did casting for her mother, and modeled as well.
Bega first came to Moab in 1989 to do a photo shoot with her mother, to go in a calendar for Mitsubishi. “There were no cars involved,” Bega added, “just a girl in a beautiful landscape.” Bega’s parents bought a piece of land up River Road (Scenic Byway 128) in 1991, though they never built on it. She and her siblings came to Moab regularly during the summer school breaks.
In the late-90s, Bega was in NY living and working there when she found out a family friend was shooting a movie in Los Angeles, and Bega wanted to get involved, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. “I didn’t know how Hollywood worked,” she said. So, she just called up the friend and asked, “Can I work on your movie?” He agreed to hire her as a production assistant provided that she would move to LA, find a place to live, a car to drive, and get to work on time.
The movie was Very Bad Things, starring Christian Slater and Cameron Diaz among others, and the family friend was Peter Berg.
While working on this film, Bega met the costume designer who asked her to come with her to NY and try out the wardrobe department as a shopper on her next movie. That movie turned out to be Rounders, which featured stars such as Matt Damon, John Malkovich, and Edward Norton.
Bega took work “wherever the work was, but mostly in LA” and moved up the ranks, from on set and key costumer and eventually to assistant costume designer. After six years of being an assistant, she “went solo”. Her first project as the costume designer was for HBO’s Project Greenlight for the movie The Battle of Shaker Heights.
Bega also came out to Moab to work between film jobs. “Moab was my down time,” she said. Her first job in Moab was as a wrangler at Pack Creek Ranch. She also worked at Woody’s Tavern, Jailhouse Cafe, and “random other jobs.” While she was a big city girl, Bega wasn’t unfamiliar with rural life; she had also spent much of her childhood riding horses in upstate New York on weekends and all summer long. “I’m a city mouse and a country mouse,” Bega said. “And now I’m a desert rat.”
In 2006, Bega had her son, Silver, in Moab. “So I own a local,” Bega joked.
In 2007, Bega took baby Silver to LA to work on the Star Trek movie. Silver went to daycare on the Paramount Studio lot.
Bega moved back to New York briefly in 2008, to be with her mother after her father passed away. But Silver remained in Moab with his dad most of the time, and Bega didn’t like being so far away. For a time, she commuted back and forth from Moab to New York to work on the television drama series Blue Bloods. Bega kept an eye out for year-round work based in Moab, so she could stay close to her son. When the position of Assistant Film Commissioner opened up with the City of Moab, Bega applied, and got the job. When the Film Commissioner resigned, Bega took on that role. Bega has been the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commissioner for almost three years.
“It’s been a really nice way to stay here,” Bega said. “Moab used to be my down time; now it’s my work time.”
Bega said she has a strong work ethic. “It’s hard to slow me down,” she said. “I try not to answer my phone on Sundays. But, that’s not even true. You have to be available to get the opportunities.”
Established in 1949, the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission is the longest running film commission in the world. The Commission provides assistance to production companies with all aspects of filming, from assistance with the permitting, to connecting with local film professionals and vendors. The Commission maintains a directory of resources for crew and support services in Grand and San Juan Counties.
“We help them do what most filmmakers try to do—leave a place better than they found it, so others can enjoy it and others can film here,” Bega said. The film commission in partnership with Moab City Recreation also does a free, twice-monthly movie and popcorn event at Swanny Park through the warmer months.
The film commission will also start hosting a “Media Hive – Mix and Mingle” on the first Thursday of every month. Check the website events calendar or check the film commission Facebook page for more information.
Next year is the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commissions 70th birthday, and Bega is planning some great events in celebration of this milestone.