Written by Richard Peterson
(Editor’s note: This story is published with permission of its author, Poplar writer Richard Peterson. It previously ran in the Great Falls Tribune.)
Should executive producers get the green light for a second season of the TV series Boomtowners, shot partially in eastern Montana and debuting this week on the Smithsonian Channel, one of the first calls they’ll make is to Wolf Point native Allison Whitmer.
Whitmer, who’s been working in various aspects of the film and television industry since 1996, was the production consultant of the television show that was shot in the Bakken oil patch near Sidney and western North Dakota. It profiles various workers in the heart of what’s been compared to a modern day gold rush.
Born and raised in Wolf Point and with family ties in the oil industry, Whitmer’s knowledge of the area helped bring authenticity to the project, filmed during two months last summer.
Whitmer, 43, a 1989 graduate of Wolf Point High School, attended Montana State University in Bozeman and majored in consumer economics, a field that studies the behavior of consumers.
After a car accident left her slightly impaired from a mild brain injury, Whitmer was told by her college adviser to consider going into a career field where there would be less stress on the brain.
So, she signed up to be a film and television major but decided to also keep going with her major in consumer economics. She earned bachelor’s degrees in both fields.
“It’s an amazing combination because when you’re making movies it’s all about studying people’s behavior and putting it into a story. There’s body language, space and human interaction. All of the social sciences at work,” said Whitmer, who now divides her time between Wolf Point, Bozeman and wherever she’s called to work.
After college, her first job came as a set production assistant on the Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer, where she helped open gates and wrangle horses. “It was a great show to be a part of,” Whitmer said.
About 20 of the 75 film, television and print projects she has worked on throughout her career so far have been shot in her home state of Montana. Those projects, where she’s usually worked as a producer or production consultant, are a chance for filmmakers to showcase the beauty and landscape of the state’s mountains and prairies, she said.
Whitmer tells the story of her friend who lived out of state and made it a point to go see The Horse Whisperer when it was first released in theaters in 1998.
“She just sat there and wept the entire film because she missed Montana so much,” Whitmer said. “Montana is beautiful. There’s clean air, mountains, plains and western expanses that people in the cities never experience.”
Other Montana projects she’s worked on were the Emmy-winning documentary Class C, about small-town girls’ basketball teams in Montana, the PBS series Frontier House, and Winter in The Blood, based on the James Welch novel and filmed in Havre, Dodson and on the Fort Belknap Reservation.
“It wasn’t just a Native American story but one of hope and redemption and takes place in a part of the country where most people will never visit,” she said of the film.
She just recently completed work as the production supervisor for an untitled film by director and screen writer Kelly Reichardt, which was filmed in the Bozeman and Livingston areas and stars Michelle Williams, Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart. On that shoot, she also helped cast youth and adult powwow dancers from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation to be part of a film scene in Bozeman earlier this month.
Her work as the production consultant on the set of Boomtowners, which is receiving a lot of buzz on social media, will help give TV viewers a look at life in one of the fastest growing regions in the country.
The series focuses on some longtime residents and newcomers in the Sidney and Williston, N.D., areas whose residents work in the oil fields or are impacted by the oil boom. Among the featured characters are a truck driver, judge, land and business owners, oil lease operators and workers straight off the rigs.
Hartogs and executive producer Jeff Stecyk said filming captured a moment in time when the price of oil was at a peak and before it took a nosedive and forced oil companies to lay off thousands of workers in the Bakken region.
“At the end of the day, we hope people see the series as a good depiction of what is really going on there. We went out of our way to give accurate portrayals,” Stecyk said.
There are a lot of stereotypes of workers in the oil field and those only became worse when Sidney High School math teacher Sherry Arnold was kidnapped and murdered in 2012 by two Colorado men looking for work in the oil patch.
“This will show that people in the [Bakken] are not losers and terrible people who are coming just to make money. They have marriages, children, businesses, homes, work and come from all walks of life,” Whitmer said.
While waiting to work on her next project, Whitmer also spends a lot of her time actively working with people to bring their film and television projects to Montana.
“I’m always on the lookout for people in the industry like governmental agencies and filmmakers who may not know Montana has this beautiful scenery,” Whitmer said. “I love bringing Montana to the general public.”
Written by Herald-News
Authorities have charged four Wolf Point High School students who police say were involved in the window shooting incidents during November and December that resulted in thousands of dollars in damages from BB or pellet gun holes in windows in houses, cars, trucks and at least one motorhome.
Wolf Point Police Sgt. Ryan Michaelsen said the last two male juveniles ― ages 16 and 17 ― were cited into Fort Peck Tribes Youth Court for criminal mischief Tuesday, April 28.
Two other male juveniles, ages 16 and 17, were cited into state youth court March 14 for criminal mischief.
The Wolf Point Police Department did not identify the youth.
Written by Herald-News
A Wolf Point man took a 10-year-old pickup for a test drive from High Plains Motors all the way to Helena.
The Wolf Point Police Department reported that the man, who has not been identified, asked High Plains Motors if he could test drive the 2005 GMC crew cab pickup. The man failed to return the truck and the dealership reported it missing.
Police Chief Jeff Harada said Monday, May 4, that the Montana Highway Patrol recovered the missing pickup in Helena.
Harada said charges were pending against the Wolf Point man.
Written by Herald-News
A Glasgow man accused of killing a golden eagle pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Tuesday, April 21, before U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston in Great Falls.
A federal grand jury indicted Keith Morehouse, 30, for unlawful taking of a golden eagle.
If convicted, Morehouse faces a possible one year in federal prison and $100,000 in fines.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case.
Written by John Plestina
District Judge David Cybulski sentenced three people to sentences that that include fines and probation, but avoid prison as long as they stay out of trouble during law and motion proceedings in 15th District Court Wednesday, April 29.
Shelby Lynn Rider is the second person accused in the drugs by deception case that occurred at Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson in June.
Cybulski sentenced her to a five-year deferred imposition of sentence on a felony drug possession charge and six months deferred imposition of sentence on a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Other counts were dismissed under a plea agreement.
Rider and Jesse Gottschalk, both 22 and both from Algonac, Mich., and currently living in North Dakota, faced separate companion cases.
Both withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to felony drug possession charges during recent months. Both admitted in court to allegations that they together attempted to obtain drugs from RMC on June 25, 2014 by making false claims.
Each had been free on $20,000 bond since August and both have signed waivers of extradition.
Gottschalk received a similar deferred imposition of sentencing when Cybulski sentenced him Jan. 28.
Cybulski sentenced Jodee Rae Scott, 53, of Poplar to terms in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections of one, 10 and five years, all to run concurrently, with all prison time suspended, and $13,500 in fines.
The sentence followed terms of a plea agreement where Scott pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fleeing from or eluding a peace officer, felony tampering with evidence and felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
The incident that led to the charges occurred in Culbertson April 4, 2013. She has been free on bond.
Cody Twomey, 20, of Culbertson received a seven-year sentence to the custody of the Montana DOC, all suspended, and a $10,000 fine.
Twomey withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to criminal endangerment Sept. 10. The original charges were aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, criminal endangerment and being under the influence of an intoxicating substance by a person under 21, all stemming from an incident that occurred June 22 at a party spot southwest of Culbertson near the Missouri River that is known as “Twight’s Bottom.”
The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office reported that deputies responded to multiple 911 calls at about 3:30 a.m., reporting a male threatening others with a shotgun.