The crew filming the movie adaptation of Hi-Line native James Welch’s “Winter in the Blood” took Havre on a little jaunt into the past, to 1975, this morning.
The contemporary Hi-Line residents who were taken back with them enjoyed the ride.
At 7 a. m., 3rd Street and 3rd and 4th avenues were already blocked off, and trailers were set up in the Atrium Mall’s parking lot, carrying film equipment, tables and chairs and dressing rooms, complete with stars on the doors with the actors’ names on them.
As the sun was coming up, most of the shops were dark, except for Cavaliers Men’s and Women’s Wear, where owner Doug Ross was getting ready for the day’s filming. The film’s staff had been in the store the day before, setting up the front of the store with a window display, sale advertisements and merchandise to look like a sporting goods store from the time period.
Ross said that he started working at Cavaliers in 1968 and became owner in 1974, one year before the story takes place. He said that the crew liked the store for how much it had maintained the feel of those days.
“They like the interior of our store because it’s ‘vintage,' guess is how you’d say it, ” Ross said.
Aside from meeting with the film’s crew Monday, Ross met with Sten Iversen, head of the Montana Film Office division of the Department of Commerce.
A scene from the movie "Winter in the Blood" is filmed in front of Cavaliers Men's and Women's Wear on 3rd Street this morning.
Ross appreciates the film being done not just in Montana, but on the Hi-Line. And he has seen a lot of the community members who agree.
“The state of Montana is only doing one major film this year and it’s here, ” Ross said.
“The community has really jumped in with this. I think it’s really excited to have a movie being made here. ”
Ross said he had read some of Welch’s book and saw in it the Hi-Line that he has lived and worked on for decades.
“The flavor is definitely there, ” Ross said. “If you’ve lived on the Hi-Line for any amount of time, you’ll see it. ”
The support of the Hi-Line communities should help the movie maintain that Hi-Line flavor.
Aside from using the locations, props and vehicles of the area, many local people are helping add authenticity.
Among the extras gathered this morning in the Atrium parking lot this morning were Bill and Susan Templet, a retired couple from Chinook.
Bill said he was walking in Chinook while the film crew was in town recently and his Montana look was noticed so he was recruited.
“I was walking around and they came up with a clipboard and said, ‘You want to be in the movies? ’ and I said, ‘Are you kidding? ’, ” Bill said.
The couple were told to come by in western wear, which for them was a lot of denim with a backup western hat in their truck. Bill may have been recruited, but it’s Susan who gets to be in multiple scenes.
Others have gotten involved by more than chance.
Mona Woronik was out this morning with her sons, Mike and Mark, ready to help out. She said they had a friend in Billings taking part in the production who helped them get involved. Mike has been interested in pursuing a career in film and got his first taste of the industry with some pre-production set-piece construction. But what he really wants to do is direct.
While the highly visible outdoor filming in Havre is only scheduled for this morning, the process will continue in other area communities and out of the view of the public, either inside area buildings or out on empty northern Montana roads.