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Winter in the Blood

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Governor Brian Schweitzer offered his support to a new Montana-made film by paying a visit to its set in Chinook.

Winter in the Blood” began shooting on the Hi-Line in August, and has already captured the attention of both the national Native American community and Hollywood.

Missoula-born directors Alex and Andrew Smith, (writers/directors of “The Slaughter Rule”) both award-winning filmmakers and professors at the Universities of Montana and Texas, developed the screenplay based on James Welch’s coming of age novel about Native American life in Montana. The brothers chose to film near Havre and Chinook to honor the authentic story and location of “Winter in the Blood”. Welch (1940-2003), an acclaimed Native American author, drew inspiration for his first story while growing up on a ranch on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, on the northern plains of central Montana.

Governor Schweitzer says he couldn’t be more pleased with the Smith Brother’s choice.

“This film is Montana,” said Governor Schweitzer. “It’s remarkable to see a Montana story, written by a Montana author, brought to life on the Hi-Line, by two very talented homegrown filmmakers.”

Montana and Idaho native, Chaske Spencer (“The Twilight Saga”), stars as the main character, Virgil First Raise. The cast also includes first-time actors from Montana’s Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy reservations along with Hollywood veterans, David Morse (“The Green Mile,” “The Hurt Locker”), Gary Farmer (“Smoke Signals”), Julia Jones (“The Twilight Saga”), and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (“Tombstone,” “Friday Night Lights”).

The Smith Brothers say they are honored to receive the support of the communities on which the story is based, and it was important to them that the film, in turn, support those communities. By choosing to shoot Winter in the Blood on the Montana Hi-Line, the Smith Brothers are creating a series of symbiotic relationships that are allowing them to film this project with the spirit of James Welch at the forefront.

As producer Susan Kirr puts it, “We’re not tourists. We’re here to live and work with the people and be involved in the community.”

The Montana Film Office has worked closely with the Smith Brothers to bring this film to production in Montana. Over the last two years, the MFO has hosted two location scouting trips for the production team. In addition to free location scouting, “Winter in the Blood” is also taking advantage of other Studio 406 incentives offered by the MFO, including free office furniture and traffic control signage.

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