On the Set: It's taken a state to make 'Winter in the Blood'
The film has been a labor of love for Montanans from the governor on down. It was made by local-boys-made-good (the Smith brothers), funded locally and based on a novel by a local Native American author.
By Kenneth Turan
Alexie returned the favor by becoming an associate producer on "Winter in the Blood." When he spoke at a fundraiser in Missoula, remembers co-screenwriter Ken White, he said that reading the book "was the first time I read a story about myself, the first time I saw my story represented in literature. It gave me permission to speak. It's why I became a writer."
"I'm not getting paid that much; the experience of doing this is the reward," Spencer adds. "There are no special effects, no big-time soundtrack, but it's so layered, there are so many rich emotions. A role like this challenges me. It's why you hustle those tables, why you bartend, why I became an actor. There's no other reason to be in the Milk River up to your chest in sludge."
For Farmer, a three-time Independent Spirit Awards nominee for roles in "Powwow Highway," "Dead Man" and "Smoke Signals," a film like this, based on a celebrated Native American novel with a cast and crew that includes representation from close to 30 tribes, "has been a long time coming."
"For years as an actor, they never let us do the writing," he says. "We had to work twice as hard to socialize the writer to Native American realities. This for me as a career actor is the culmination of that. To witness this after a 38-year career is just magic."
Below: "Actor Chaske Spencer studies his script on the set of Winter in the Blood outside of Chinook, Montana." (Patricia Williams/For The Times)