Montana Film Office awards $500,000 in grants

Posted at 9:16 AM, Jul 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-26 11:16:46-04

HELENA – The Montana Film Office at the Department of Commerce has announced $500,000 in grants for productions filming in the state, including several by resident filmmakers.

One of the grants was for the movie "Pellett," which began pre-production shooting in Great Falls this week.

“Film production brings dollars into communities across the state,” said Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer in a press release. “The Big Sky Film Grant helps to grow the industry from two sides. It provides an incentive for productions to come here and gives an edge to our own filmmakers who are sharing Montana with the world through their work.”

Arguably the most iconic film shot in Montana is "A River Runs Through It."  "It is the film people think of when they think of Montana," Whitmer told MTN News recently. "’A River Runs Through It’ is the ultimate film. Our visitors from overseas come here just to go fishing."

The film created a 60 percent increase in Montana fishing the year it was released back in 1992. Robert Redford, the film’s director, returned to Montana in 1996 to shoot "The Horse Whisperer." 

Montana can be found in more than 180 productions, from documentaries and TV series to shorts and feature-length films. "We have little pieces of ‘The Revenant’, little pieces of ‘The Shining’, and we’re Heaven in ‘What Dreams May Come’," Whitmer said. "What could be better than that?"

RELATED: Why Hollywood Loves Montana

The Montana Film Office was created in 1974 as a way to be a curator and source for the needs of on-location filmmakers. It works to promote the state as a filming location and invite productions into Montana for the overall economic benefit of the state.

The grants announced this week fall into three categories: feature film and TV, development, and resident filmmaker. The development category covers any non-feature-length projects such as web series.

Feature Film and TV Grant

  • “Cowboys” received a $50,000 grant and will feature Columbia Falls and West Glacier.
    • As the misunderstandings within a family escalate, a father is accused of kidnapping his son, even though he is only trying to help him. Writer/director Anna Kerrigan said she saw the contrast between Montana’s epic landscape and the story’s family conflict as assets to the screenplay.
  • “Pellett” received a $100,000 grant and will feature Great Falls and Shelby.
    • “Pellett" is a true story that takes place in Great Falls and Shelby, where Clarence Pellett was murdered in 1951. After being paroled in 1969, the killer fled from supervision in 1972 and was not recaptured until 2010. Clarence’s grandson, Clem, led the effort to locate the killer and is executive producer of the film.
  • “Life Interrupted” received a $3,000 grant and will feature Bozeman and locations around the Blackfeet Reservation.
    • “Life Interrupted” is a documentary about breast cancer that chronicles the lives and experiences of three unique survivors, including the director and Montana resident Paula Mozen. This film follows them from diagnosis to treatment and how they rebuild their lives with dignity, humor and grace.
  • “Black Flowers” received a $10,000 grant and will feature Twin Bridges.
    • “Black Flowers” is the story of a family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world while coping with the loss of themselves and each other. Set two years after nuclear war, this family travels across a desolate North America searching for a new home.
  • “Ted K” received a $110,000 and will feature Lincoln.
    • This is the story of Lincoln in the 1990s and how a town of incredible natural beauty and good, trusting citizens became the hiding place for Ted Kaczynski, the domestic terrorist who would become known as the Unabomber. Produced by Matt Flanders, a Helena native.
  • “The Bruce” received a $100,000 grant and will feature Livingston.
    • Braveheart’s Robert the Bruce is saved by a widow and her children in this untold story of Scotland’s king. It is director Richard Gray’s second Montana film in two years.
  • “Whiskey Warriors” received a $72,000 grant and will feature locations around western Montana.
    • This A&E television series will feature Montana distilleries — and the outdoor adventures available near them — in three episodes. With a spotlight on Montana landscapes, these episodes show the geographic diversity of distilling in America.

Development Grant

  • “The Vanual” received a $25,000 grant and will feature locations around Montana.
    • A traveling intersection of Montana landscape and music, this web series is looking for the confluence of art and travel. Roaming in a mobile sound studio and RV, the show seeks out the artists that we know of, and also the ones living in quiet rural towns in Montana. Producer Logan Foret, a successful event producer of live events in the state, wanted to get past the formal stages and dark bars of the music scene, showing the traveler that more awaits them in the plains and rolling vistas of the state.

Resident Filmmaker Grant

  • “Mountain Mama” received a $25,000 grant and will feature Missoula.
    • “Mountain Mama” is a documentary following and interviewing mothers about their experiences recreating with children. Films about women rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and rafting are few and far between in general, and films about the experience of motherhood and the outdoors are even fewer. Written and directed by Missoula resident Elizabeth Moore.
  • “The Conservationist” received a $5,000 grant and will feature Missoula.
    • Trying to escape his complicity in an environmental disaster, a gifted economist retreats into an Eden of his own making. But when a tyrannical energy conglomerate threatens to destroy paradise, he takes conservation to a murderous extreme. Written, directed and produced by Ken White.

For more information about the Big Sky Film Grant Program, or to apply, visit the Montana Film Office website.


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