‘Wildlife’ filming transforms downtown Livingston

Samantha Hill

In downtown Livingston Wednesday, residents saw the atmosphere change from the modern era to the 1960s for shooting the film, “Wildlife.”

“Wildlife” was adapted from the 1990 novel by Richard Ford. The book tells the tale of a family in 1960 who move to Great Falls, where their son watches his parents’ marriage crumble.

Paul Dano, who acted in “Little Miss Sunshine” and “There Will Be Blood,” makes his directorial debut in this film. Actress Carey Mulligan and actor Jake Gyllenhal play the mother and father.

Texas-based location scout Paul Knaus said Livingston was chosen as the location for some scenes in the film because of its closeness to production companies and some of the old buildings like the Mint Bar. The cast spent four days in the area, including many parts of downtown and the city’s north side as well Pine Creek. The cast and crew are headed to Oklahoma for the rest of filming.

Some scenes in the film include wildland firefighters. In the Pine Creek area earlier this week, crews filmed characters “firefighting” using smoke and lighting. Knaus said they will add the flames in the post-production process.

To create some of the immersion into the 1960s,  downtown streets were  cleared of new vehicles replaced with cars ranging from the 1930s to 1950s. Also, smaller details were added, such as replacing door knobs replacing stop signs with older, yellow ones to match the period.

Filmmakers also recruited people with the correct vehicles for the era. A handful of men huddled in the corner by the Mint Bar Wednesday afternoon waiting as crew members directed them where to move their cars.

Many of them, taking pride in their vehicles, wanted to bring them for the film.

“I have worked for movies in the past, and there is a lot of hurry up and wait,” Dick Prest, owner of a green 1941 Ford Coupe, said.

Prest said he has owned the vehicle for 12 years and drives it every day.

Despite some of the inconveniences of using the downtown to film a movie, another location scout, Mark Jerrett, said he was pleased that they could film the movie here and was very grateful to the businesses in the area.

“I hope we are able to show our appreciation for all the work Livingston has done for us, and we hope more films will be able to come in here,” Jerrett said.

“Wildlife” will finish production in a few weeks, Knaus said. From there the film will come out sometime next year, possibly in the spring.

Knaus said that because it is a smaller film, it will probably be featured at some festivals such as Sundance Film Festival.