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Montana Film Office

Sep
1
2011
September 2011 – Press & News

wintersept112On the Set: It’s taken a state to make ‘Winter in the Blood’

The film has been a labor of love for Montanans from the governor on down. It was made by local-boys-made-good (the Smith brothers), funded locally and based on a novel by a local Native American author.

Reporting from Havre, Mont. —— If, as has been said, Montana is a small town with really long streets, that’s never more true than in the remote but stunning area known as the Hi-Line.

Originally created by the tracks of the Great Northern Railway, this region close to the Canadian border features venerable hamlets such as Cut Bank, Shelby and Rudyard (“596 Nice People, One Sorehead”) strung out along U.S. 2 like links in a long and stubborn chain. “When you drive Highway 2,” says Chaske Spencer, shaking his head, “you really go back in time.”

Despite brooding grain elevators dominating the skyline and lonesome freight trains bisecting the endless fields of winter wheat, no one has brought a movie star like Spencer — he plays werewolf Sam Uley, a mainstay of the “Twilight” series — to the Hi-Line in years. Until Alex and Andrew Smith’s “Winter in the Blood,” based on the landmark novel by James Welch and featuring Spencer, “Twilight” colleague Julia Jones, David Morse and Gary Farmer, filmed here this summer.

Brimming with so much vibrant Montana history and connections that the good wishes of the entire state have lined up behind it, “Winter” is the quintessential little film that has used what one crew member called “smoke and mirrors and miracles” to get made. A genuine passion project for everyone it’s touched (including Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who made his plane available to fly in potential financiers and visited the set over the Labor Day weekend), the film got on its feet against considerable odds.

Welch, who died of a heart attack at age 62 in 2003, was a product of the Hi-Line, born in Browning of a Blackfeet father and Gros Ventre mother and raised on the Ft. Belknap Reservation. He put everything he knew about the area and about modern Native American life into “Winter in the Blood,” a landmark debut novel published in 1974.

The story of a nameless young Native American man who struggles with his heritage and his life, who feels “as distant from myself as a hawk from the moon,” “Winter” is a book where not a lot happens but everything is revealed. As costar Farmer explains, raising his outstretched arm ever so slightly, “the character’s arc goes like this, nothing really changes. It’s the audience who grows. I’ve known this author my whole life, and that’s what I love about his writing.”

Click here for a PDF of the full article by Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. Photo taken by Patricia Williams.


mfocompeteMontana Film Office competition attracting filmmakers to shoot on location

A new competition could help long-term plans to raise Montana’s profile as a production centre in the US. The Montana Film Office is offering production equipment and services worth USD20,000 to a filmmaker who can give the best reason why their project should be filmed in Montana.

Dubbed ‘Pitch the 406’, the competition is targeting new filmmakers working with low budgets. All they need to do is submit a three-minute film explaining why their project is ideally suited for Montana. This could be in the form of a straightforward pitch-to-camera or a more adventurous trailer or sample scene from their project, which can be in any genre or style.

Sten Iversen, Montana Film Commissioner, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for filmmakers who have the inspiration they need to shoot a movie in Montana. The contest also offers young and aspiring filmmakers great exposure to some of Hollywood’s very talented veterans, who are sitting on our judging panel.”

The judging panel will include Marty Katz, former Executive Vice President in charge of Motion Pictures and Television for Walt Disney Studios. There will also be Mike Fantasia, who first scouted Montana in the 1980s for Steven Spielberg’s Always and has worked with the director many times since.

The submission deadline for the competition is 30th November 2011 and the winner will be announced in the first week of January 2012.

Click here for a PDF of the full article by Nick Goundry of The Location Guide.


governor2Governor offers support to ‘Winter in the Blood’

HELENA (AP) — A new film based on a James Welch novel is being shot in Chinook and Havre.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer visited the set last week and says the film called “Winter in the Blood” is a remarkable Montana story. Missoula-born directors Alex and Andrew Smith developed the screenplay based on Welch’s coming of age story about Native American life in Montana, The pair previously filmed the Montana-based movie “The Slaughter Rule.” The film stars Montana native Chaske Spencer from the Twilight series of movies, David Morse and others. The Montana Film Office says the movie is taking advantage of incentives offered to movie production in the state.

Click here for a PDF of the full article from the Havre Daily News. Photo taken by Nikki Carlson/Havre Daily News.


State incentives help directors produce movie in Chinook, Havre

HELENA — A new film based on a James Welch novel is being shot in Chinook and Havre.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer visited the set last week and says the film called “Winter in the Blood” is a remarkable Montana story. Missoula-born directors Alex and Andrew Smith developed the screenplay based on Welch’s coming of age story about Native American life in Montana, The pair previously filmed the Montana-based movie “The Slaughter Rule.” The film stars Montana native Chaske Spencer from the Twilight series of movies, David Morse and others. The Montana Film Office says the movie is taking advantage of incentives offered to movie production in the state.

Click here for a PDF of the full article from the Billings Gazette.


wintersept11“Winter In The Blood” filming on Montana Hi-Line

Hollywood has come to Montana again, this time with a movie being filmed in several communities along the Hi-Line. “Winter in the Blood” began shooting in August and has filmed in and near Chinook and Havre.

Missoula-born directors Alex and Andrew Smith – who also wrote and directed “The Slaughter Rule,” which was also filmed in north-central Montana – are both award-winning filmmakers. They developed the screenplay based on James Welch’s novel about Native American life in Montana. The brothers chose to film near Havre and Chinook to honor the authentic story and location of “Winter in the Blood”. Welch (1940-2003), an acclaimed Native American author, drew inspiration for his first story while growing up on a ranch on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

Governor Brian Schweitzer took note of the film, saying that he couldn’t be more pleased with the Smith Brother’s choice. Schweitzer noted, “This film is Montana. It’s remarkable to see a Montana story, written by a Montana author, brought to life on the Hi-Line, by two very talented homegrown filmmakers.”

Montana and Idaho native Chaske Spencer (“The Twilight Saga”) stars as the main character, Virgil First Raise. The synopsis of the story reads: “Virgil First Raise embarks on a wild and comic odyssey to retrieve his renegade wife– and the beloved rifle she stole. He ultimately finds: himself.”

Click here for a PDF of the full article from KXLH.com.


governorFrom Hollywood to Havre – the Film “Winter in the Blood” Shoots on Montana’s Hi-Line

(HELENA) – Governor Brian Schweitzer offered his support to a new Montana-made film by paying a visit to its set in Chinook.

“Winter in the Blood” began shooting on the Hi-Line in August, and has already captured the attention of both the national Native American community and Hollywood. Missoula-born directors Alex and Andrew Smith, (writers/directors of “The Slaughter Rule”) both award-winning filmmakers and professors at the Universities of Montana and Texas, developed the screenplay based on James Welch’s coming of age novel about Native American life in Montana. The brothers chose to film near Havre and Chinook to honor the authentic story and location of “Winter in the Blood”. Welch (1940-2003), an acclaimed Native American author, drew inspiration for his first story while growing up on a ranch on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, on the northern plains of central Montana.

Governor Schweitzer says he couldn’t be more pleased with the Smith Brother’s choice.

“This film is Montana,” said Governor Schweitzer. “It’s remarkable to see a Montana story, written by a Montana author, brought to life on the Hi-Line, by two very talented homegrown filmmakers.”

Montana and Idaho native, Chaske Spencer (“The Twilight Saga”), stars as the main character, Virgil First Raise. The cast also includes first-time actors from Montana’s Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy reservations along with Hollywood veterans, David Morse (“The Green Mile,” “The Hurt Locker”), Gary Farmer (“Smoke Signals”), Julia Jones (“The Twilight Saga”), and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (“Tombstone,” “Friday Night Lights”).

Smith Brothers say they are honored to receive the support of the communities on which the story is based, and it was important to them that the film, in turn, support those communities. By choosing to shoot Winter in the Blood on the Montana Hi-Line, the Smith Brothers are creating a series of symbiotic relationships that are allowing them to film this project with the spirit of James Welch at the forefront.

As producer Susan Kirr puts it, “We’re not tourists. We’re here to live and work with the people and be involved in the community.”

The Montana Film Office has worked closely with the Smith Brothers to bring this film to production in Montana. Over the last two years, the MFO has hosted two location scouting trips for the production team. In addition to free location scouting, “Winter in the Blood” is also taking advantage of other Studio 406 incentives offered by the MFO, including free office furniture and traffic control signage. For more information on the Montana film industry, its locations and incentives package, visit www.montanafilm.com.

Click here for the official press release.


favoritemovieLocal Filmmakers Seek to Compete in National Market

Helena, Montana – September 2nd, 2011 – Local Montana filmmakers Isaac Marble and Martin Rogers are looking to bring their independently produced feature film, My Favorite Movie, to national audiences by selling it at the American Film Market, the largest film market in North America, in Santa Monica in November.

The Carroll College grads have spent several years fine tuning the film and are eager to see how it stacks up on a nation scale, “We’re excited to see how our work is going to be received by distributors and what kind of bargaining leverage we will have” says Marble.

My Favorite Movie is a family comedy centered around depressed office worker, Dave, and his host of crazy friends seeking to break his slump. Marble acted as the primary producer while Rogers directed the film.

Click here for a PDF of this press release. Photo credit Dream Team Cinema. Watch the trailer for the film here.


officersMontana law enforcement featured in cable series

One night while on patrol, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Paris, then a deputy, responded to a disturbance at an area gas station involving an Iraq war veteran. The incident ended up getting solved peacefully, with Paris driving the man home, but the entire incident was caught on tape and has been seen by people all over the country. The incident was featured in a recent episode of the National Geographic Channel’s television show “Frontier Force,” which focuses on the day-to-day duties of law enforcement agencies across Montana.

“I think it’s a good show,” said Capt. Bill Michaelis. “It’s a positive light and it’s really edited well. It’s really done very professionally.”

Producers and camera crews spent about a year over 2010 and 2011 following agencies across the state. Besides the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, they spent time with the Billings, Missoula, Miles City and Darby police departments; the Custer, Gallatin, Missoula, Flathead and Roosevelt county sheriff’s offices; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and in Glendive with various agencies.

Click here for a PDF of the full article by Zach Benoit of the Billings Gazette.


Weeks Latest “Where the Yellowstone Goes” Begins Filming

Livingston, MT – A launch party was held on Friday, Aug. 26 at Yellowstone Valley Lodge south of Livingston to celebrate a new film project titled, “Where the Yellowstone Goes.” The film’s presenting sponsor, Trout Headwaters, Inc., along with other long-time protectors of the Yellowstone River, welcomed the film crew’s drift boat as it arrived in Paradise Valley. The crew had put in near Gardiner, MT. a few days earlier on Aug. 22.

From the producers of the award-winning adventure film, “Ride the Divide,” and acclaimed director Hunter Weeks, the feature-length Yellowstone documentary will follow a small crew on a month-long journey as they navigate America’s longest free-flowing waterway. Weeks will apply his style of journey-documentary filmmaking to create a story that inspires and captures anecdotal happenings along the way, helping illustrate a sense of how much the river has evolved since Lewis & Clark explored the region a mere 205 years ago.

“Given recent news about the Yellowstone River, I think this is a really timely and important journey and I suspect the story that unfolds will teach us so much about ourselves, the vanishing West, and some really special places in Montana,” said Weeks.

Click here for a PDF of the full article from MTBusiness.com.