Event Celebrates Award about '1923' Production in Butte

August 24, 2022 Accelerate Montana Team

film and media bute

Montana Standard

Dozens of people turned out to the Finlen Hotel on Thursday for the Butte, America Film Friendly Community of the Year Celebration and 1923 Informational Crew Meet and Greet.

The Butte Entertainment & Film Committee, the Media Training Center, Accelerate Montana and the Montana Film Office hosted the event from 3-6 p.m.

“1923,” the prequel to the hit Paramount + show "Yellowstone" and formerly named “1932,” is in production and utilizing the Civic Center as its base.

There have been some questions about the T.V. show’s production, and the event was there to provide answers as well as celebrate Butte winning the 2022 “Film Friendly Community of the Year” award in April.

It came as a shock when Maria Pochervina, director of Butte's Convention & Visitors Bureau, Jocelyn Dodge with Butte’s CVB, Paul Babb of NorthWestern Energy, Mike Johnson, president of Management Consultants Inc., Courtney McKee, co-owner of Headframe Spirits, and Mackenzie Quinn, also of Headframe Spirits received the award at the Governor's Conference on Tourism and Recreation in Billings.

Pochervina said after the event that she foresees housing for the production being a lot of hotel rooms, of which Butte has an estimated 1,500, she said.

“I can’t see where it’s going to take a lot of rentals,” she said.

As for the impact on Butte’s economy, she said she and the other players who’ve helped make this happen are really excited for the “huge impact” it will have on Butte’s community and local businesses. The street closures should be limited, too.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge inconvenience,” Pochervina said. “They don’t want to disrupt our lives.”

Butte-Silver Bow Community Development Director Karen Byrnes said if there are street closures, businesses and residents in the affected areas will be notified, and because the production companies hire professional construction crews, the areas in question will be treated like a construction zone.

Erin Sahlstrom, the “1923” production coordinator and Brian Ray, the series’ location manager both spoke at the event.

The community submitted questions for the two to answer, ranging from how many production members will be in Butte to why “1923” chose to film in Butte.

Sahlstrom answered the former and Ray the latter.

She said there are about 150-160 members in Butte now, from places all over the country like Florida, New Mexico, Oregon and Montana, and that the number may double or even triple before all is said and done.

She added one of the things about film crews is that “you never know for sure and things change all the time.”

Sahlstrom also said crews “eat a lot” and will try to shop local as much as possible.

Ray said Butte was chosen because it is “the largest historic downtown district in the country.” He also said when he was producing 1883 in Fort Worth, Texas, they were able to redesign three blocks of stockyard and make it look like 1883. He also said he plans to do something similar, and perhaps cooler, in Butte.

Alison Whitmer, commissioner at the Department of Commerce’s Montana Film Office, said the Department of Commerce honors people or groups every year “who have spent work, effort and years of development in the tourism industry” with the Governor’s Awards in tourism.

She said there is no list of criteria for the film-friendly community award, and that it’s instead based on a community’s specific contributions to making films in Montana. She said that during the beginning of the pandemic, the Montana Film Office spent a lot of time working with Butte for people who were looking for a place to film outside of more populated areas.

“And Butte put the work in,” Whitmer said. “Maria put the work in, Stephanie (Sorini) put the work in, lots of people in this room put the work in. And when we went to evaluate all our amazing communities, we found we really wanted to honor Butte.” Pochervina thanked a long list of people after Whitmer’s introduction.

Byrnes spoke after Pochervina and thanked Whitmer for recognizing them because “it does take a team and that’s what Butte is.”

“And that’s what we’re going show this production of "1923," and we’re going to show every production after that,” she said.

Besides the award, speakers at the event talked about all the rewards Butte will reap from "1923" filming here.

Lynn-Wood Fields of Accelerate Montana, spoke about Accelerate Montana’s film and media training programs and also had a table at the event for people interested in potentially being an extra; working on a media production as a filmmaker or crew; being a vendor; renting housing out; and/or learning more about Accelerate Montana’s rapid training program.

Fields, a Montanan herself, spent 12 years as an executive producer and is passionate about getting Montanans jobs in the film and media industry, particularly on sets in the state. The organization recently received a $6 million grant from Gov. Greg Gianforte to establish its Rapid Training Program in five industries: construction, manufacturing, healthcare, information technology and cyber security and film and media (the last one due in part to Fields’ urging).

Accelerate Montana has plans to partner with Highlands College to offer training classes in the next month on how to be a production assistant, how to be an extra and how to be a COVID Compliance Officer, a position which is required for film, video and photo shoots to operate during the pandemic.

To read the full article on Montana Standard, click here

Faur, Kasey. "Event celebrates award, answers community questions about '1923' production in Butte, 14 July 2022, https://www.mtpr.org/montana-news/2022-02-16/6-million-grant-will-support-rapid-training-programs-for-montana-workers


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