The last time Britni West came home to the Flathead to make a movie, it ended up winning awards all over the world.
It was 2015, and “Tired Moonlight,” the story of a middle-aged woman in a small Montana town and all the magic and excitement that can happen there when you least expect it, was released to critical acclaim.
West, who wrote and directed the movie, would go on to win the Best Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival and the Future/Now Special Jury Prize at the Montclair Film Festival, while her cinematographer, Adam Ginsburg, won the special jury prize for Best Cinematography at the Sarasota Film Festival. The New York Times said the movie is “full of the oddness and vitality that are essential to the continued promise of American cinema (and American life).”
Not one to rest on her laurels, West is back at it and making her second film, “By Now I’ve Lived A Thousand Lives And None Of Them Are Mine.” It’s the story of a woman in her 30s moving back home to a small town after being away for a while to live her life, and it’s a narrative familiar to West.
When she’s not in the Flathead visiting family, West, 31, lives in New York City, working in the art department for the CBS lawyer-drama “Bull.” There wasn’t a real drive to make this second movie until her most recent visit home to Montana when she found out her folks were going to sell their home.
She’d just gotten back to the Flathead and was filming her uncle’s wedding, and she decided to stay a while longer to let this new film blossom in her mind.
“I’ve been thinking about this movie for a while,” West said. “It’s probably been a year and a half, and I’ve been working on it for the past six months. I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly.”
West knew she wanted her parents’ home in the movie, so it was time to start. When she made “Tired Moonlight,” the project was funded through grants; this time, she’s making her new film on her own dime. She set up a Kickstarter project to help fund it, seeking $15,000 as the goal.
West also plans on using as many local people — non-actors included — as possible in her movie. She plans to go about this the same semi-improvisational way she did with “Tired Moonlight.”
“I have a scripted, narrative storyline and then I go into whatever town or place I’m shooting in and meet people along the way and write them into the movie,” West said.
The last film had an open call for auditions, but West’s timetable is considerably smaller this time around. She said anyone interested in being in the film, even if they’ve never acted before, should email her a video of themselves telling her about why they want to be in the film.
West has already begun her whirlwind filming schedule, starting with sessions with her grandmother in Denver, followed by filming aunts and uncles in Wyoming, and then a shoot in Bozeman with a friend. The film crew should get back to the Flathead by mid-June, she said.
“It’s going to be crazy,” she said.
She is asking that people donate what they can toward the Kickstarter, which ends on July 20 at 6 p.m.
West said she had a great time making “Tired Moonlight” in the Flathead because of all the real-life characters she met along the way. She wants to show the beauties and realities of living in small-town Montana, but also the funny happenings that bring these communities closer.
“It’s going to be a wacky movie,” West said. “I just like adding in all the things I can find.”
For more information, including contact information, visit www.britniwest.com.
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