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Governor Bullock Announces Grants to Support Film Production in Montana, Strengthen Local Economies

Thursday, July 28, 2016/Categories: Market MT, Film, Funds Awarded

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Steve Bullock today announced $500,000 in grants to support the production of 11 new film and multimedia projects taking place in Montana, stimulating local economies and providing job opportunities for Montanans.

“Highlighting Montana’s beauty and richness of character on the big screen while creating local jobs is a win-win,” said Governor Bullock. “Film production in Montana boosts our strong economy and supports additional job creation in our local communities.”

The Big Sky Film Grant offers funding to resident filmmakers, filmmakers looking to shoot in-state, in-state production companies, and filmmakers taking Montana-made films to internationally juried film festivals. Administered through the Montana Department of Commerce, the grant provides funding for Montana-centric content that shows the state in an indelible light and can be used for promoting Montana as a travel and filmmaking destination.

“The biggest challenge for an independent production shooting on location is to find the right combination of story authenticity and accessibility,” said Ed Parks, Producer (The Ballad of Lefty Brown). “We are grateful to have the support of Montana and overwhelmed by such natural beauty.” 

Full List of Grant Recipients:


  • The Ballad of Lefty Brown (Higher Content); $200,000

When ageing sidekick LEFTY BROWN is blamed for his employer’s murder, he teams up with a newly sober US Marshal and a teenage runaway to clear his name and uncover a plot of greed and betrayal. Bill Pullman stars in this character-driven western about an unlikely hero in an unforgiving time.  Writer-director Jared Moshe (Dead Man’s Burden) envisioned the story set against the stunning backdrop of SW Montana, but knew the limitations of shooting in rural areas with a modest budget. 

The project comes from Los Angeles-based independent production company HIGHER CONTENT, and producers Ed Parks, Ryan Lewis and Neda Armian.   The entire film will shoot in SW Montana in and around Bannack and Harrison, in September/October 2016.  The project expects to spend $1.2 million in the State.

  • Broken Ghost (Yellow Brick Films), $75,000

Samantha, a pharmacist, and William, a renowned sculpture artist, move from the city to a ranch in Montana. Their 16-year-old daughter, Imogen, has albinism. After being humiliated and bullied on social media, her parents thought a change in scenery and lifestyle would help. Imogen dyes her hair, changes her name and tries to start fresh. But her new school has bullies, her parents’ marriage is disintegrating and a supernatural force lurks within the attic. From production company Yellow Brick Films, Broken Ghost is shooting in the Livingston/Bozeman area and spending over $550,000 in Montana.


  • Chasing Light (Rhythm Productions); $28,000

“Chasing Light” is an original series that chronicles filmmaker and photographer Colin Ruggiero’s efforts to shoot time-lapses and beautiful imagery across the state of Montana. Colin is a professional filmmaker who shoots regularly for many of the elite natural history producers in the world, including the BBC and National Geographic, and has the knowledge to produce imagery that rivals anything being shot today. Using state of the art equipment and the flexibility that only a very small crew or single shooter can have, he will portray the natural beauty and diversity of Montana in a way that no one previously has. Colin’s enthusiasm and first person accounts of his adventures will lure viewers into discovering a world of breathtaking natural beauty.

  • Kate Tectonics (Synema Studios); $48,000

The science series “Kate Tectonics” follows host Katelyn Salem as she explores the great outdoors of Montana to teach the ins and outs of geology. From Missoula production studio Synema Studios, this educational web series is produced by pros in online video content distribution and will reach a whole new demographic of students and travelers.

  • The Sunrise Series (Lost Family/Michael Graef); $6,000

The Sunrise Series showcases a community of young explorers capturing Montana sunrises from different iconic locations around western Montana. The series shows a sense of pride in Montana’s beauty and outdoor community, appealing to a younger demographic and providing contemporary content aimed at younger adventure travelers.

  • Healing Power of Montana Landscapes (Keith Ailes); $300

“Healing Power” describes the overwhelming power of healing that landscapes, outdoor adventures, fishing, and hiking, in Montana offers to help heal families or individuals who have been impacted by diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and cancer. This project would tell Keith’s family’s personal story of battling Multiple Sclerosis with interviews with his father who currently has MS and tell the story of how they have dealt with the passing of his mother who also had MS.

  • In Focus (Outlaw Partners, LLC); $50,000

In Focus is a cinematic and journalistic approach capturing intriguing stories of people and places across Big Sky Country – no scripts, just real-life stories and experiences shared firsthand from the heart of Montana. Produced by Big Sky-based Outlaw Partners, the In Focus project supports a Montana company and employees, highlighting Montana people and places, with three fold economic impact in job creation, payroll and earned media value.


  • The Bozeman Trail (Friends of Montana PBS/Aaron Pruitt); $25,000

In the wake of the Civil War as soldiers and families headed west for a new beginning, John Bozeman and mountain man Jason Jacobs, searched for a short cut from the Oregon Trial to Virginia City; establishing a route that traversed Indian territory and leaving an indelible mark in the formative years of Wyoming and Montana.

  • Cheyenne is Burning (I Dare You Films, LLC/Alana Waksman); $20,000

“Cheyenne Is Burning” is the story of Cheyenne, an eighteen year-old Native American, who is raised in the small town of Deer Lodge, Montana. She is guided to value the dominant culture over her own, and expected to do well in school in order to lead a successful (and happy) life. However, Cheyenne feels an emptiness in pursuing life in this way. We join her on a journey as she explores the depths of her pain, confusion, isolation, and struggle with addiction while she searches for connection and belonging.

  • Drive Them Buffalo (King’s Road Media/Daniel Glick); $43,500

The Blackfeet Nation has been connected with the bison for over ten thousand years, but in the last century bison were nearly driven extinct. Today, there's an effort by a small group of Blackfeet cowboys, hunters, and tribal leaders to bring the bison back to the reservation. Each June they drive their growing herd of 350 from their winter pasture to their summer pasture, an adventure conducted entirely on horseback. These men blend past and present together, combining millennia-old Blackfeet ritual with modern practices. "Drive Them Buffalo" will capture their 2016 drive in its entirety, creating a visceral experience of what it’s like to be on the range working intimately with such iconic and powerful creatures, as well as a rare glimpse into millennia-old Blackfeet rituals and traditions, which the Blackfeet cowboys incorporate into the drive.


  • What Separates Us (Running Bear Media); $2,000

A young brawler meets a beautiful artist and must weigh the choice between his support system and his dreams. This film was shot entirely in Montana by an all-Montana team of filmmakers and won best feature at the Machetanz Film Festival in Alaska.



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