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BOZEMAN - Fairplay Pictures plans to begin shooting its feature film "A Plumm Summer" in the area next month.

The California-based company is setting up shop for the production at a vacant Montana State University dormitory and Bozeman's Hilton Garden Inn. The crew will use MSU for office space, and the Hilton as a place to stay, director and producer Caroline Zelder said.

Filming begins July 10 and will wrap up after 35 days, she said.

"A Plumm Summer" is a family adventure based on events that took place in Billings in 1966. The film follows two brothers as they search for a stolen puppet, the star of a popular children's show.

"We've been working with (this) story for two-and-a-half to three years and for it to end up here in Montana is something I'm most excited about," producer Frank Antonelli said.

Zelder and Antonelli are now trying to narrow their list of filming locations. Currently, they include Livingston's Sacajawea Park and possibly Bozeman's Story Mansion.

Most of the cast and crew will be local. Some of the lead roles will go to well-known actors, but Fairplay is also casting local actors for some of the movie's 55 roles with the help of Bozeman casting director Tina Buckingham.

"Seventy percent of which I hope will be local," Zelder said.

Buckingham also plans to audition for extras later this month, the Montana Film Office Web site states.

The film's budget is small by Hollywood standards at about $3.5 million, but Zelder expects the production to pump about $2.5 million into the local economy and film officials say Montana will benefit from exposure in the film.

"If you're shooting in Montana, the scenery's going to be play a role just because your backdrops are going to be magnificent," film office manager Sten Iversen said.

The filmmakers scouted seven other states and provinces before deciding to film the movie in Montana, thanks at least in part to work by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, the Montana Film Office and local government officials to make the state more attractive to film in.

The film could be distributed nationwide in theaters as early as next spring.

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