Arts & Entertainment

Capturing the Allure of Small Towns

Missoula producers film online series exploring towns and villages in Montana, including Martin City and Bigfork

There really is nothing quite like a small town, or a small-town experience.

Sure, cities have their allure, what with the hustle and bustle, seas of people constantly surging, seeking opportunity or fortune or fame. They’re exciting, full of energy and set in fast forward.

But anyone who has wandered around Montana, not just to our larger metropolises, knows that the charm of a small town can be enough to make you picture yourself there, a member of the community, nothing moving faster than the sun across the sky. There’s a high probability that if you were to stop in one of these one- or no-stoplight towns with a friendly attitude, you’ll find adventure of some sort.

That’s the idea the producers behind the new online series, “Weekend Guide To,” want to capture in their monthly posts as they explore small Montana towns in all their guts and glory.

“You’re just so much more likely in a small town to saddle up to the bar and you’re more likely to sit next to someone, and before you know it, you have a tour guide to this small town,” Kyle Hollinger, one of the creators behind Weekend Guide To, said.

Hollinger and his friend Bill Stubblefield have published a few of their adventures online, starting with Choteau, then moving to Cabin Fever Days in Martin City for the second episode. The third episode features Bigfork.

The friends sort of stumbled into the idea for Weekend Guide To, Hollinger said. They’d both explored little-known places on their own, without realizing the other guy was having the same kind of fun.

“Bill has gone to small towns on his own and had a really good time, and I’ve gone to small towns on my own and had a really good time,” Hollinger said.

The two finally put it together when they took a trip to Wallace, Idaho together, and found themselves looking through haunted buildings and locals-only spots as pointed out by their local guides.

“We just had this great experience, and on the drive back we were chatting about ‘What if we could capture that?’” Hollinger said.

The Missoula-based duo talked about the idea the whole ride home, and spent the next month hashing out the details.

“We just kept working on it and the more we talked about it, we really started believing it,” Hollinger said.

They had great experiences filming and publishing their first few trips, and plan to publish new episodes monthly. The latest episode features Philipsburg.

Hollinger said they plan to branch into central and eastern Montana soon, visiting places such as Red Lodge, Wibaux, Glasgow, Roundup, and more.

So far, all of the funding for the trips and videos has come from Hollinger and Stubblefield, and they work on their spare time outside of their other jobs. The pair hopes to score funding from the Big Sky Film Grant program as part of the Montana Film Office.

When the pair decided to go all in on this project, they put together a list of 10 places to visit for their first season. As of last week, they’d filmed about 80 percent of it all.

They’ll continue their work, not necessarily because it’s making them money, but because it’s really fun, Hollinger said. Small towns have their own culture, which all ties into the larger culture of living in Montana. All of those experiences count, and meeting new people is a catalyst for new opportunities.

“It’s really nice going to these town and just meeting people,” Hollinger said. “There’s always something cool that you don’t know about until you show up.”

For more information on Weekend Guide To, visit www.weekendguideto.com.

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