Montana filmmakers and Butte-born actors take their turns at the inaugural four-day Covellite International Film Festival, which starts Thursday in Uptown Butte.
Brick Patrick and Zac Thomas, Butte natives, are featured on the big screen in a 2015 made-in-Montana film, “Love Like Gold,” at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at the Covellite Upper Theater, 215 W. Broadway St.
It’s a fitting spot to unveil “Love Like Gold” in its Butte debut, as Patrick and Thomas are two of the stars in the 2014 short, “Orphan Girl,” a stylistic Butte mining story that debuted at the Mother Lode Theatre to a packed house on Sept. 11, 2014.
Two years ago, Patrick and Thomas were introduced to local fans, many of whom are friends, relatives and former high school peers.
Patrick’s star has gradually risen, as he recently played a hilarious turn as Woody Harrelson’s wacky, evil identical twin in “Now You See Me 2,” released nationwide.
In “Love Like Gold,” Patrick plays the lead, a cowboy named Gage. Thomas plays a lesser role, “Thug.”
Producer Skye Grace Bennett, a Eureka native who lives in Missoula, calls the film a Western noir and romantic drama. It was filmed in Eureka and Missoula.
Playing opposite Patrick is Alexandra Henrikson as Lola. Montana resident Kier Atherton, 33, directs.
“Love Like Gold” is a portrayal of a “wayward ranch hand (Gage) in search of something different in his life, and Lola, a singer who wants to get away from the bad choices and hardships that have fallen on her,” as Atherton writes in an Internet Movie Data Base synopsis.
Themes of trust, bravery, violence and struggle — and of course, love — figure into the plot.
Patrick, who grew up entertaining family with his dead-on impersonations of famous actors, is slowly climbing the ladder to fame. Patrick, Atherton, who lives in Trego in extreme northwest Montana, and producer Bennett will attend the Covellite festival.
“What’s attractive to me is it’s a hometown festival and they're premiering two of my films — and I’m going to promote the arts,” said Patrick, who rides into town Wednesday.
Bennett and Atherton open the festival on Thursday, when their “Lester Leaps In” screens in a double bill with another short film, “Eliza,” at 8:15 p.m. at the Original Mine Yard.
“I’m excited that we get to screen a couple films there this year,” said Bennett. “We’re just looking forward to having a little reunion with Brick and Zac and to screen the beautiful movie (“Love Like Gold”) that Brick was a part of.”
“Love Like Gold” premiered in Missoula at the Montana Film Festival last fall, but now it’s Butte’s chance to see it — and 89 other films at the Covellite festival.
Patrick said Bennett is “an intelligent, capable, strong female producer” who deserves the recognition in an industry that is still top-heavy with men.
“That’s a difficult position to get into for a woman,” said Patrick. “I’m really proud of her.”
Henrikson will not attend the festival, as she is working with comedian and actor Steve Martin in an original stage play he wrote. Zac Thomas cannot attend, either.
Increasingly, the Los Angeles-based film industry shoots films in wide-open spaces like Montana because it costs less and the vistas are a big draw. Butte, too, has its share of film scouts agog at the views.
“I think the festival is good for Butte,” said Patrick. “Anything where we’re trying to support Butte is good.”