Low-budget feature film begins shooting here

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Helen Schreiner and Bentley Heyman are filming the movie “Big Fork” in and around Whitefish. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

A group of friends reunite for a destination wedding and things go wrong — like the bride and groom shouldn’t be getting married.

That’s the premise of a low-budget feature film titled “Big Fork” that is set to begin filming in and around Whitefish this week.

“The characters are facing a fork in the road,” explains director and screen writer Bentley Heyman. “All these characters have been brought together and they have to make some decisions.”

Heyman, along with producer Helen Schreiner, are heading up the production, which is expected to be filming in the area for about three weeks. The pair met in film school at Stony Brook University in New York.

Heyman came to Montana last year when their short film “Kingdom” was selected for the Montana Film Festival. The pair have worked on seven short films and a web series together, but this their first feature film. During his visit, he drove from Missoula to Bigfork and was inspired to set his story in the Big Sky State.

“This is a beautiful place and it really lived up to my expectations,” he said. “That drive from Missoula to Bigfork was the best two-hour drive of my life.”

A friend of Schreiner’s recommended shooting the film in Whitefish and it turned out that Heyman had relatives here, so after three days of taking a look at the area, Heyman and Schreiner were sold on Whitefish.

“Everything is so close together here and that makes it easier,” Schreiner said. “People have been so kind and we’ve been able to get answers to our questions.”

They’ve been working locally with the city of Whitefish and with the Montana Film Office to coordinate the logistics of filming.

Heyman and Schreiner arrived in Whitefish earlier this month to begin scouting locations and finishing casting for the production. They are also looking to bring on background extras, interns and production assistants for the film. There are four to five main roles in the film that also remain to be cast and they are hopping to fill those with local actors.

During filming, production will take place in Whitefish and about 40 miles outside the city. Folks may see the film crew on the streets filming scenes and they’ll be at homes in town too. Most days they expect about 20 people to be working as part of filming, but the wedding scene could see up to 65 people on set. “It’s a low-impact film,” Heyman said. “The script has a documentary feel.”

Heyman said the focus now is on making a great film, but the ultimate goal is to get it submitted to film festivals.

“We’d love to bring it back to Montana and we’d love to screen the film here,” he said.

For more information on the film, visit www.bigforkthefilm.com. Those interested in working on the film, can contact them at bigforkthefilm@gmail.com.

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