Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin takes us to the Hi-line of Montana where the film “Winter in the Blood” was made using Native actors and extras. The story follows the trials of Virgil First Raise (Chaske Spencer) on the Fort Belknap Reservation.
A sneak peek of the film will be held in Missoula, MT., this weekend. Visionary Insight: Behind the Scenes of the Film ‘Winter in the Blood’” screens Saturday at 5:15 p.m. at the Wilma Theatre, a part of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Here’s Devlin’s story on the making of the film:
On a bitter cold January night in 2007, screenwriter-actor Ken White was having trouble sleeping.
White was a guest at the Montana ranch home of Annick Smith, mother of his filmmaker friends, twins Andrew and Alex Smith. He pulled a book off a shelf to read hoping only that it would lure his eyelids toward half-mast.
Several hours later White put down “Winter in the Blood” by James Welch. He’d stayed up all night to finish the book, and was still wide awake.
“He called us that morning,” Alex says, “and said, ‘Why aren’t you making this book into a movie?’ It was a good question. Why aren’t we?”
The twins had known Welch for as long as they could remember. He was a long-time family friend from before they’d even been born.
He’d even met his wife Lois at a dinner party at their house.
“Winter in the Blood,” the story of a troubled and aimless young man on Montana’s Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, was Welch’s first novel and started his transition from poet to author.