Filming starts in Butte for documentary about mining days


BUTTE, Mont. - An idea to create commercials for Butte's Headframe Spirits has grown in to a new documentary on the city's mining heritage. About 20 people were filming underground in Orphan Boy Mine trying to recreate what happened when Butte mining was still active. NBC Montana was lead underground, through the Orphan Boy Mine's dark winding, tunnels to where the film organizers and cast are posing for a picture. "Butte comes from this amazing innovative pioneering raw effort past and we don't always give ourselves credit for the amazing things that happened here," said Headframe Spirits owner Courtney McKee. She said film started as a way to promote her distillery. "We said let's tell the story of the orphan girl," she said. But the idea kept growing, and the Orphan Girl film is now one part of a planned multimedia collaborative called the "Spirit of Butte." McKee is working with Chisel Industries and the Montana Film office. "We've looked for the talents and expertise that we needed to achieve this as close to home as possible and we've grown it out from there," she said. Yarrow Kraner is directing the film. He said before shooting they interviewed veterans who spent their lives underground. "A lot of the source material that is inspiring the filming that we're doing is based on real stories," said Kraner. The production's received a grant from the Montana Film Office. The money is being used to hire Montana crew and talent and rent equipment from Montana production companies. McKee said it's pumping some $200,000 into the community. "This is the meals, the hotel rooms, the feeding and taking care of a crew like this the quick errands," McKee said. She said it's that impact that's taking this project beyond just making a good film. "To tell that story about the amazing pieces of our past and spin that into the amazing things about our present and our future," she said. The Orphan Girl crew is working with the Montana Film Office, a group of film and public relations specialists that promotes the state as a location for production. Here is an example of the economic impact of film production on Montana's economy, between February and June 2013, six projects contributed more than $1.7 million. That figure is based on the amount of in-state spending done by a production. Those projects ranged from a Chevy commercial shot in the Bozeman area to a feature film for the sy-fy channel: "Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs." The film office has been around for four decades and is a part of the Montana Department of Commerce. The office offers tax credits for productions ranging from 9% to 14 for Montana expenses, resident crew and talent.