Gov. Steve Bullock announced this week a $200,000 grant for a film adaptation of a short story by best-selling author James Lee Burke of Montana.
“God’s Country,” based on “Winter Light,” will be the second adaptation of the story following a 30-minute film directed by Julian Higgins and released in 2015. Higgins shot the film in Missoula.
“Productions bring jobs to our industry professionals and money to our communities, while the projects themselves live on to share with audiences around the globe what Montana has to offer,” Bullock said in a press release.
“Winter Light” tells the story of a reclusive English professor who becomes embattled with two hunters trying to cross his property on their way to a national forest. According to the press release, the next adaptation will be a “female-driven thriller set against the sweeping backdrop of the snow-covered Montana wilderness.” It will be shot in the southwest part of the state.
Burke, a Lolo resident who taught English at the University of Montana and has written close to 40 books over the course of his career, helped write the script for the first film.
Funding for the grant comes from the Big Sky Film Grant program, which is administered by the Montana Film Office at the Department of Commerce. In order to qualify for the grant, a feature-length film or television project must plan to spend more than $300,000 in production costs in Montana and have at least 50% of its principal photography shot in the state.
“Mending the Line,” a film about war veterans healing their wounds through fly fishing, received $40,000. A $5,000 award will go toward “MAUS,” a short film about a man from the city coping with a new house which has been infested with mice. “Tessa Returning,” which centers on an artist returning to her Montana home following a forest fire, also received a $15,000 development grant.
In total, $260,000 in grants went toward film projects shot in Montana.