Fourteen films projects to shoot in Montana after being awarded $500,000 in grants

MONTANA - The Montana Film Office awarded a total of $500,000 in grants to 14 films that will be shot on location across the state. The office estimated these projects will spend $72 million in Montana while filming. 

The projects cover a wide range of themes such as, a documentary about issues tribal women face, a feature film about a Montana MMA fighter and an educational series for children featuring music and animation. 

They'll be shot all throughout the state, from Hamilton and Missoula to different parts of eastern Montana. 

These projects don't just create jobs in Montana's growing film industry, but boosts the economy beyond that, Allison Whitmer, Montana film commissioner, said. 

"They can impact every level of the community, from renting a courthouse, to paying to close parking down streets, to renting your grandmother's Buick that she has in her garage for a picture car," she said. "It's really nice to contribute those funds all throughout the economy with our grants."

The projects are split into different categories. Development grants are for documentaries and short form. Resident grants are specifically awarded to Montana resident filmmakers. Feature film and television grants are for more established producers, like Kevin Costner and the series Yellowstone. 

These projects are all long-term, so it'll be a couple years before they premiere, Whitmer said. 

The following is a list of the projects provided by the Montana Film Office:

Feature Film and Television Grant

  • “Buds Eternal” (Feature film – Ryan Dickie, Producer/Writer/Director; Jeri Rafter, Producer) will receive $25,000 to film in Missoula. “Buds Eternal” is a story about three best friends who come to Montana when one of them inherits his late grandfather’s luxury mountain estate. The guys find themselves dazzled by the gorgeous landscape and serene nature, but quickly come to realize the house is haunted by the grandfather’s benevolent spirt.
  • “Defending our Defenders” (Documentary – J. Lazarus Auerback, Producer/Director) will receive $25,000 to film in various locations across Montana. Synopsis: Montanans are 22 percent more likely to become a suicide statistic than anywhere else in the United States. This means that for soldiers who are dealing with PTSD, there is no place more likely for them to have an attempt at suicide. Through exploring every aspect of both what causes PTSD and the long-term effects on these soldiers, this documentary will strive to show the reasons that lead these brave people to thoughts of suicide, which treatments are available, which therapies are working and how those who need it can find help.
  • “Diamondback” (Feature film – Jennia Fredrique Aponte, Director; Jennifer Julian, Producer; Holly Payberg, Producer; Rene’ Haynes, Casting Director) will receive $100,000 to film in southwest Montana. “Diamondback” is an action-packed, redemptive revenge drama, set in the stunning backdrop of 1880's Montana and featuring a fiercely independent, Black, Apache-trained warrior determined to take down the outlaws who killed her father.
  • “Sooyii (Creatures)” (Feature film – Paige Rasmussen, Producer; Pat “Judge” Hall, Producer; John Murray and Jesse Derosier, Historical Consultants; Krisztian Kery, Writer/Director) will receive $40,000 to film in Dupuyer. “Sooyi” is a historical drama taking place in the early 18th Century in the Americas about a young Blackfeet man, the lone survivor of a deadly disease that decimates his camp, who joins forces with the daughter of an enemy tribe. The film will be cast entirely of Native Peoples and will be one of the first films to use only the authentic Blackfeet and Shoshone languages with English subtitles.
  • “Wild Animal” (Feature film – Joseph Marconi, Writer/Director; Lysette Urus, Producer) will receive $45,000 to film across Montana. Synopsis: This story is inspired by Montana's own Ireland Moran who started fighting in the cage at only 13 years old. “Wild Animal” seeks to tell a relevant and authentic story to those already steeped in the world of MMA and strives to reach audiences outside the fighting community by focusing on the emotional, human quest towards the greatness and enlightening of oneself.
  • “Yellowstone” (Television series – Taylor Sheridan, Writer/Director/Producer; Kevin Costner, Actor/Producer; Art Linson, Producer; John Linson, Producer) will receive $50,000 to film near Darby and Hamilton. Synopsis: A ranching family in Montana faces off against others encroaching on their land. “Yellowstone” follows the Dutton ranch and its family members in land and business conflicts with the local Native American tribe, land developers, other family members and outside forces.

Resident Filmmaker Grant

  • “Aaron” (Feature film –Travis Fine, Writer/Director/Producer; Jenna Ciralli, Amber Rose Mason, Nina Alviar and Don Teschner, Producers) will receive $15,000 to film across Montana. Synopsis: When a 13-year-old boy is orphaned in his remote Montana home by World War I and the pandemic of 1918, he must fight the elements to not only stay alive, but also to find meaning and hope in a world that seems to be teetering on the edge of destruction.
  • “Do You Know Where Your Parents Are?” (Feature film – Michelle Hartly, Executive Producer; Linda Metcalf and Scott Rosenfelt, Screenplay) will receive $50,000 to film across Montana. Synopsis: “Do You Know Where Your Parents Are?” portrays the dynamics within a three-generational family against the backdrop of a multimillion-dollar empire and what it really means to care for senior citizens in a direct, honest way. The movie is heartwarming, funny, and you’ll laugh and cry as you root for those who want to do the right thing against overwhelming odds.
  • “Landscapes of a Western Mind: The Story of Ivan Doig” (Documentary – Produced by Kristina Martin, Nic Davis, Scott Sterling, and Aaron Pruitt in partnership with Montana Public Broadcasting Service) will receive $30,000 to film across Montana. Synopsis: The story of how an iconic author saw the world, through the landscapes that shaped him.
  • “Mankind’s Greatest Story” (Documentary – Seth Warren, Producer/Director; Shane Doyle, EdD, Native Nexus/Cultural Consultant/Tribal Navigator/Narrator) will receive $25,000 to film in various locations across Montana. Synopsis: “Mankind’s Greatest Story” will be a mosaic of discovery stories and historical revelations chronicling the first inhabitants of Montana from the period of 10-15K years ago.
  • “Stolen Sisters” (Documentary – Scott Duthie, Producer) will receive $25,000 to film across Montana. Synopsis: This documentary will explore the issues that involve tribal women and how this has affected them. “Stolen Sisters” will showcase how the Montana task force is really making a positive difference in tribal women’s lives and helping them finally find justice.

Development Grant

  • “The Adventures of Nicholas Gnome” (Television, streaming – Nick Greil, Director/Producer; Jenny Greil, Writer/Producer) will receive $25,000 to film in Missoula. Synopsis: Entirely written, filmed, and produced in Montana, “The Adventures of Nicholas Gnome” provides high-quality, educational content for children. Part live-action, part animation, and part musical, each episode uses memorable narratives, music, and fun to teach essential lessons based on the Montana Office of Public Instruction’s Early Learning Standards.
  • “The Program” (Documentary – Ann Rogers, Director/Producer) will receive $25,000 to film in eastern Montana. Synopsis: When an unexpected Facebook friend request unearths decades of male child sexual abuse at a rural Montana high school, former student athletes and their lawyers seek justice in the courtroom and fight for future victims in the state legislature.
  • “The Story of Us: A History of the Women Who Help Shape Montana” (Television – Kimberly Hogberg, Producer) will receive $20,000 to film across Montana. The mission of this project is to highlight and feature the history of Montana’s women and bring their stories to life.

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