For my research project, I plan to conduct ethnographic and visual research in Anaconda, Montana. This research will ultimately go towards influencing my feature script, Mickey and the Bear, by instilling realism in it’s sense of place and culture. The events of the film are applicable broadly to American society, but I want the fabric of the story to be as idiosyncratic to Anaconda as possible (and with the research I’ve already conducted, I’ve gathered that Anaconda is quite an idiosyncratic town). I am thrilled to have this unique opportunity to gain a visceral understanding of the story’s setting before the film goes into production.
My blog posts will track the progress of my trip in the prep stage, the post stage, and finally, the stage in which I take all facets of research I will have gathered in Anaconda and infuse it into the dramatic work.
So far, I have secured a small film crew who I will take with me on the trip (a producer, a DP, and a sound mixer). I have booked our travels plans to go to Montana on August 11th, and stay for three full days. In this time, we plan to visit as many locations from the script as we can, including Anaconda Mobile Court, Anaconda High School, New Hill Cemetery, Georgetown Lake, the Montana Veteran’s Memorial, the Anaconda VA Clinic, Donovan’s Diner, the famous Anaconda Smokestack, and many more places. We plan to take a small DSLR camera with us to get video footage of each of these locations.
Additionally (and what I’m even more excited about), we plan to arrange to meet people native to the town who are willing to speak to us about their experiences living there. Specifically, I hope to speak to a handful of veterans from the present war not only about their experience serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, but as I stated in my proposal, about their relationship to Montana. Montana has the second highest veteran population per capita, which figures prominently in my film, so the chance to meet with these veterans first-hand would be incredibly useful. The conversations between myself and them will infuse the character of Hank tremendously, so in turn, they will infuse the relationship between Mickey and Hank.
However, I do not have any direct connections to anyone who lives in Anaconda (or Montana even), so getting in touch with people who live there has been a challenge. I have reached out to a number of veteran’s groups as well as psychologists that are based out of Anaconda, but so far, none have responded (fortunately, the trip is a month away, so we have plenty of time to arrange for a few meet-ups). But, I have gotten in touch with two people who have relatives in both Anaconda and in neighboring towns of Anaconda! One woman lives in Anaconda, and is very active in the local community. The others live in Bozeman and Helena, and seem like they’d be fascinating to speak to. If anyone who is reading this has any connections in either Montana or Anaconda, please let me know! I’d be extremely grateful!
Besides preparing for the trip, I have continued to pursue my research both through reading about and watching movies about/that feature Montana, as well as continuing to work on my script. The more I learn about the town and delve deeper into the story, the more eager I’ve become to finally get the chance to travel there. As I get closer to the actual dates of the trip, I am excited to share more details about the trip prep work.
P.S. For more information about the play version of this project (which was first produced at the Gallatin Arts Festival this past April), you can click here!