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Potential film and TV production stoppage could impact Montana

A film set.
Danny Chan
Creative Commons/Vancouver Film School
A film set.

Production companies around the U.S. are bracing for a potential work stoppage on commercials, TV shows and films because of stalled talks between a major productions workers union and TV and film producers. A strike would affect not just Hollywood — but it could be felt in Montana.

Talk to Leslie Feigel, the CEO of the Livingston Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, and she will tell you her region is a film-friendly place. It’s home to commercial and feature film sets, from the Crazy Mountains to the north to the Paradise Valley Film Ranch to the south.

"We’ve seen anything from a $3 million or $1.2 to $10 million production budget. And that would really affect our economy here," Feigel says.

Feigel says the local economy benefits from hotels being fully staffed and management companies renting out vacation homes. The two grocery stores stay busy providing food for people renting the vacation homes, and supplying the caterers who feed crews three times per day. And locals get to make a few dollars working as stand-ins on set.

"They were paying people $100 a day just to go down and be a second on some sidewalk shots," Feigel says.

Not every production may be affected if the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees does strike. Some productions negotiated their own contracts with the unions so it's possible filming will continue around Livingston and the Paradise Valley.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.