Film could be shot locally, if funding is secured

2011-06-13T21:00:00Z Film could be shot locally, if funding is securedBy SUSAN OLP Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
June 13, 2011 9:00 pm  • 

An independent feature film focused on a fictional Crow youth and his family will be made in Montana this fall, if funding can be secured.

The producer of "Last Man Stands" is Petra Ahmann of Silverline Cinema in New York City. Ahmann is a 2004 graduate of Laurel High School.

Alex Portugal, also of Silverline, wrote the screenplay and will direct the full-length film.

Locations for the movie could include Laurel, Hardin, the Crow Reservation and other local spots. Ahmann and Portugal were in town for about 10 days to solidify more of the production details.

Most of the cast is already in place, Portugal said, with Alex Meraz, one of the wolves from the "Twilight" movies in the lead role of Taylor Brewer. Irene Bedard, who plays the part of his mother, is best known as the voice of Pocahontas in the Disney movie of the same name.

Raoul Trujillo, who has a part in the upcoming "Cowboys and Aliens," has been cast in the role of Taylor's father, and Chaske Spencer, another "Twilight" wolf, has the role as Taylor's older brother.

"Last Man Stands" is the first full-length movie the pair has tackled, Ahmann said. They met three years ago, Portugal added, when he directed a short film called "B-Hurst" on which Ahmann worked as line producer.

"Ever since then we've been working together on projects," Portugal said.

The plot for the film actually evolved from another screenplay Portugal wrote eight years ago. Originally, it had to do with a Mexican family in Arizona set in the time of the Vietnam draft.

Ahmann asked Portugal if he could envision the location shifting to Montana, with the plot centered on a Crow family during the Iraq War, circa 2003.

"I said I'm very open to it," Portugal said.

The pair flew out to Montana to meet with representatives of the Montana Film Office and the Crow Tribe. They received a good reception from both, Ahmann said.

So they moved forward on the $2 million project. They are getting closer to locking down the needed financing, Ahmann said.

Once the backers are in place, filming can begin, she said. Preproduction would take about eight weeks, followed by six to eight weeks of shooting, Ahmann said.

The plot centers on Taylor Brewer, an 18-year-old football player at Laurel High, whose family moved off the Crow Reservation. Taylor plans to follow in his brother Charlie's footsteps and join the Marines.

When Charlie is killed in action in Iraq, Taylor's father opposes his younger son's desire to enlist in the military. Taylor turns to tribal elders for wisdom and direction.

"It's a movie about family, and about family coming together at a very pivotal moment," Portugal said.

The film requires 57 speaking roles, he said, and many of the day players and extras will be cast locally.

Portugal plans to return to Montana in July to take part in some native ceremonies with elders of the Crow Tribe.

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