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Arts & Culture

Fourteen Movie, TV Productions Receive Big Sky Film Grants

Two people fiddle with a large camera on a beefy tripod. They're on a hill overlooking a town with mountains in the background.
Montana Department of Commerce
Behind the scenes filming in Montana

More than a dozen movie and TV productions filming on-location across Montana will share half a million dollars in grants from the Montana Film Office. The Big Sky Film Grants promote tourism and the state’s filmmaking industry.

One fifth of the grant money has been awarded to the feature film "Diamondback", described as a redemptive revenge drama set in the 1880's and featuring a Black, Apache-trained warrior set on taking down the outlaws who killed her father.

Survival is a common theme among the 14 Big Sky Film Grant recipients this year.

"Sooyii " depicts a lone Blackfeet man amid the smallpox epidemic in the 1700s who joins forces with the daughter of an enemy tribe. A trailer was released earlier this month.

The feature film includes an all-Native cast speaking in the Blackfeet and Shoshone languages with English subtitles.

Other recipients include "Wild Animal", a movie about a mixed martial arts fighter, "Yellowstone", a TV show about a ranching family facing land encroachment, and "Defending our Defenders", a documentary about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the long term effects on veterans.

Out of the six resident filmmaker grants, one went to "Aaron", a historical drama about a 13-year-old boy orphaned in his remote Montana home by World War I and the pandemic of 1918.

Other resident filmmaker recipients include "Landscapes of a Western Mind: The Story of Ivan Doig", a documentary focused on how the iconic Montana author saw the world through the landscapes that shaped him, "Do You Know Where Your Parents Are?", a feature film that portrays the dynamics within a three-generational family, and "Mankind’s Greatest Story", a documentary chronicling the first inhabitants of Montana from the period of 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.

A total of 42 projects requested more than $5 million in grant dollars this year, according to the Montana Department of Commerce.

The state requires its Big Sky Film Grant to be spent in Montana. The 14 projects selected this year are expected to spend an estimated $72 million in the state.

“Film, television and commercial productions have a direct economic impact in Montana, creating good-paying jobs and infusing outside dollars into Montana communities,” Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer said. “The Big Sky Film Grant is one of a suite of incentives the state offers to filmmakers that makes Montana competitive with other states and countries as the ultimate filming location.”

The production of 117 films, television shows and commercials contributed $47.6 million to Montana’s economy from January 2019 to June 2020, according to an independent report commissioned by the state’s commerce department.