Film crew scurries to finish snow shots

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Colton Christensen, playing the role of Sam Baxter, gets lassoed off of a snowmobile in a scene shot for the movie, "Treasure State", recently near Echo Lake.

While some Flathead Valley residents were rejoicing at any recent sign of spring, filmmaker Andrew Wiest was hoping for an extension of winter.

After about three weeks of intense shooting - launching into the project with 14 straight long days on set - the local director and crew are about to wrap up their shoot of "Treasure State," a movie that Wiest, 32, says "showcases the Montana winter."

"We had to make sure we had snow, and crammed big outdoor action set pieces into the first two weeks," he said last week. "We're mostly into interiors now, but do have a few traveling scenes where we need snow and mountains."

The locally produced independent film features the story of two teenage boys, Levi Hogue and Trey Stanton, whose families are both dealing with financial blows.

They set off separately on searches for valuable cargo from a plane that has crashed in the snow-covered wilderness of Montana, all the while fending off the villains who caused the accident. The twist is that the two come from feuding families and they must put aside their differences and work together if they are going to succeed and gain the offered reward.

The film fills Wiest's desires to make a family-friendly action picture featuring young people in peril, and a tribute to the Western landscape and lifestyle.

"We live a good chunk of our lives in the winter here, and there are some really cool winter things," he said. "Ever since I was a kid I wanted to shoot a sledding action scene, and in this, the bad guys are shooting guns while kids are sledding down a mountain."

His last film, "The Wylds," was a fantastical adventure of a young boy wandering in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, based on the plot of John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress." This film is placed in a modern setting, with little of the special effects work that marked "The Wylds."

"We want to scale back, and tell a story that is more real, set in a time period everyone knows and in circumstances people know, with the hard times," Wiest said. "It's something people can relate to right now."

Wiest's wife, Marianne, is back as a producer, and a few local actors from "The Wylds" have returned - Solomon Ray and Judah Justine are the leads - but they found most of the cast through auditions. Wiest singled out local actor Colton Christensen for his "amazing" work as one of the "bad guys."

"The Wylds" was released on DVD by the Christian-oriented Word Entertainment, who are also on board for "Treasure State," Wiest said.


Director Andy Wiest and Jake Bramante revel in a shot of Christensen getting yanked off of a snowmobile.

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