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Sundance Film Festival
The Montana Film Office (MFO) once again partnered with the Bozeman Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) to market Montana and Bozeman to the film industry at one of the most influential and well-attended film festivals in the United States, the Sundance Film Festival, January 20-20, 2011.
The MFO and Bozeman CVB had a week-long presence on Park City’s Main Street in the Moving Pictures lounge. The partnership with Moving Pictures offered many benefits, including extensive signage and presence at the lounge, a meeting space while at the festival and a perfect location to host the Montana Film Office/Bozeman CVB filmmaker reception on January 23 for producers and directors that attended the festival.
Montana musician Stephanie Quayle provided the perfect blend of musical entertainment and Montana flair. The MFO also took part in the Sundance Institute’s Outreach booth where non-profit organizations spend time in the filmmakers lounge talking to filmmakers about their offerings. To cap things off, the MFO also took part in a brunch co-hosted by the Association of Film Commissioners International, AFCI on Monday January 24.
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
The MFO was pleased to return for a seventh time as a supporter to the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival held in Missoula, MT, February 11-20, 2011. “The Montana Film Office has been a part of this festival since its beginnings and we are really pleased that it is a self-sustaining film festival that brings in top documentary filmmakers from all over the world every year,” said Sten Iversen, MFO Manager.
Approximately 15 notable documentary films are shot in Montana every year that lead to economic benefit to the communities they were shot in as well as national exposure to Montana’s stories, making this festival the MFO’s top marketing event focusing on documentary filmmaking.
Filmmakers journey to Montana every year to screen their films and take part in this welcoming, filmmaker-friendly environment. The Montana Film Office held a “Welcome to Montana” reception for the visiting filmmakers and VIPs, as it has done in years past. The MFO also had a presence in the Filmmakers Lounge for the entire festival, as well as both print and Internet presences for the festival.
Story A group of young Helena-based filmmakers wants to leave its audience speechless in their seats. They’re shooting a pro-grade, epic sci-fi drama about vampires and the humans who encounter them. But the producers say you can forget about any similarity between this project and the recent vampire craze — this one is gritty and real. Think the sci-fi realism of “Alien” and the epic scope of movies like “Braveheart,” “Gladiator” and “Rocky,” they say. These vampires branched off from the human race some time ago and continued to evolve in remote corners of the world — like the wintry mountains around Helena.
The core team includes Bryan Ferriter (director, lead writer and lead vampire), Nick “Milo” Milodragovich (writing and lead nonvampire), Isaac Marble (producer), Brandon Day (unit line producer and vampire), Martin Rogers (unit production manager), Ryan Pfeiffer (writer and props master), Dave Noel (writer and actor) — all past or current Carroll College students — and others.
Most of the team, led then by Rogers and Marble, already managed to shoot the low-budget comedy “My Favorite Movie” in Helena in 2008, with Ferriter in the lead role.
“That was the first time I could see, OK, this could be done — a pro-budgeted film can be done with not a huge budget, and it can be done in Montana,” said Ferriter. “And it was a really, really cool experience.”
Now, they’re reaching higher, going for a bigger story with special effects, high production values and a $100,000 budget (for now). They’ve raised the money and began shooting Jan. 31, building on the lessons of the earlier film. With Marble leading the business end, they set out to raise money from investors, who stand to earn a return if the film makes money. Armed with many local contacts and a boatload of passion, they sold the idea hard to nearly everyone they knew, and had the money raised by Dec. 1.
“If we’re going to go through with this, we’re going to go through and make it a full-bore, legitimate, independent, fully budgeted film,” Ferriter recalled thinking as the plans developed.
That means scenes well beyond those typical of low-budget movies. “Vampire” will have scenes shot from a helicopter and inside an underground cavern with large crowds and other big-production elements that they say will make the movie more appealing to distributors when it comes time to bring the project into theaters.
Click here for a PDF of the full article by Sanjay Talwani of the Independent Record. Photo by Eliza Wiley.
BROWNING — At book signings for his story “Shoot Minnie Shoot” about the 1904 Fort Shaw basketball team, Jack “Happy” Feder was thanked time and again for portraying Native Americans in a positive light. The comments inspired him to write a mythic adventure movie set during the Dog Days, but told in a modern-style to appeal to today’s teens. Once complete, “Moonhair” will be the first American movie with an all Native American cast.
“People were so tired of films and books that showed the dire side of life on a reservation,” Feder said. “My goal was not to have a political message — just to have an adventure.”
Inspired by traditional Native American myths, the story is an original tale of a woman with shocking white hair that carries untold powers. Moonhair must take a fantastical and often dangerous adventure as she tries to retrieve her tribe’s Singing Buffalo Stone from an evil neighboring tribe the Dung Eaters. Without the stone, the tribe can’t hunt and will perish. A trickster god creates problems for but Moonhair gets help from a man named Easy Runner whom she meets along the way.
Though neither of the tribes in the screenplay is real, Feder based much of the myth on Blackfeet history and folklore. Feder credits Harold Ernest Gray, Long Standing Bear Chief, a longtime teacher and Indian advocate. Unfortunately, Long Standing Bear Chief died shortly after filming of the movie ended. Feder said he plans to pay tribute to Long Standing Bear Chief in the film’s credits.
While the three lead roles feature rising stars, roughly half the 20-person cast are Browning- based actors. The title role is being played by N atasha Kaye Johnson, who was a best actress nominee at the 2007 American Indian Film Festival, and her love interest is played by Meegwun Fairbrother, who is the lead actor in “Time Traveler” on Canada’s Aboriginal People’s Television Network. Feder enlisted former CNN journalist Thomas Nybo as the camera man. The Rocky Mountain Front will also be a featured character as the movie was shot near Choteau, Augusta and on the Blackfeet Reservation.
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