It is not an uncommon sight to have a film or television show set in Montana. The hit film A River Runs Through It is one movie about fly fishing that might pop into your mind. There is another movie that is being filmed exclusively in Montana that is set to hit the silver screen. It’s called ‘Mending the Line’.
Bozeman resident and writer Stephen Camelio has been able to watch his script come alive in southwest Montana. Along with director Joshua Caldwell, Stephen was able to land Emmy Award-winning actor Brian Cox and accomplished actor Sinqua Walls.
Mending the Line is a fly-fishing film that revolves around the story of a Marine (Sinqua Walls) wounded in Afghanistan that comes to a Montana VA hospital where he struggles to deal with his trauma. There he meets a Vietnam veteran (played by Brian Cox) who is dealing with his own trauma and teaches the younger vet to deal with his physical and emotional trauma.
The project truly got off the ground, according to writer Stephen Camelio, two years ago. “We had a couple of people interested, but we were never able to make it” Camelio explained about the process. “Then about two years ago I won the Big Sky Film Grant from the Montana Film Office and that really shot us like a rocket, and we took off, and ever since then we’ve been moving forward to shooting the film,” Camelio said.
Unlike a lot of movies set in Montana, this film is being shot right in the Treasure State. The film’s director, Joshua Caldwell believes that shooting the film here is an integral part of the movie. “To not only be able to come out here and make the movie, but to have that movie be about fly fishing and to shoot it here in Montana, in Bozeman, in Livingston, on the Yellowstone, on the Gallatin, is incredibly special and I think that to me as a director, your location is such of the movie," he explained.
Coordinating the crew, equipment, as well as staff can be a monumental task. Then to add Montana weather on top of that undertaking, can complicate an already tight schedule. The crew was set to have their days filming the fly-fishing scenes on the water the week of the much-needed cold snap in August.
“Who would have thought that in the middle of a drought year we would have a rainy week, right on the week that we are supposed to be right on the water” Caldwell said. “But fortunately, we were able to pivot, we were able to shoot other stuff so that we were able to get our river days on really nice days.”
The support for this movie has been amazing from the community according to Camelio and Caldwell. Companies like SIMMS, RO Drift Boats, Tom Morgan Rod smiths, Bozeman Reel, among others like Sage all have readily contributed to the project, to which Camelio is extremely grateful.
“If it is something that they are passionate about” Camelio explained, “they will give you everything they have, and for this project, they have been amazing. Another partner for this project is Warriors and Quiet Waters (WQW). This script hits right at the heart of what WQW is all about, and the organization has played a big part in making Mending the Line happen here in Montana.
Stevie Croisant, who is the Marketing and Communications Manager for WQW fell in love with the script right away. “So, when we got the script, the ending, we were like, wow, this feels very much like what our programs do,” she said. Stephen decided that this would be a perfect fit with his script and rewrote it to incorporate the WQW Ranch located in the Gallatin Valley.
For Camelio, he hopes making the film makes a connection. Camelio’s father was a Vietnam Veteran and was part of the inspiration for the film. As he struggled with his own issues from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, Camelio saw first-hand the struggle for military veterans and saw this film as a way help others that are struggling.
“I hope by doing this that we connect with veterans” Camelio explained. “Those that have not gone through a program like Quiet Waters, maybe they will find that fly fishing is their thing, or maybe they will find that surfing is their thing, or woodworking, or find something that brings them therapy for whatever trauma they are dealing with.”
Mending the Line is still in production and as of now, there is no hard time frame for the film to hit the silver screen.