A Yellowstone Skirmish On West Main Street As The Larger Narrative War Continues

by Travis Mateer

At this point I hope Fire and Ice productions understands that when the orange cones go up with the Yellowstone brand, I will be there, on the periphery, asking questions. And if I find out notices are being distributed to those impacted by a week of lost parking outside of their businesses, well, I’m going to find a copy and report on it.

The images I’m sharing below come from the filming notification I got a copy of yesterday after doing one of my signature on-the-ground reports. Here is the geographic location impacted:

graphic from Fire and Ice filming notification

As you check out the location, you might be wondering what the waving cops signify. Here are more details from the flyer to answer that question:

While the filming isn’t actually happening until next Monday, the cones have already been up for a few days, and they stay up into the night, denying customers of the businesses in the area the ability to park. In an attempt to get ahead of frustration, here’s the letter portion of the flyer attempting to alleviate concerns:

That number you see at the bottom of the flyer isn’t actually in service, so I wasn’t able to speak with Mark Weatherford, but I did call the number of the Montana Film Office and the woman I spoke with assured me she would pass along my inquiries to the Fire and Ice contact, which I assume is Mr. Weatherford. There is also an email listed, so maybe I’ll drop him a link to this post after it’s published.

The woman I spoke with about my concerns that the economic impact being touted by our local luminaries DOES NOT translate far and wide enough to counter the disruptions directed me to a report (PDF) that I’m assuming makes the case that EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, to borrow a phrase from the Lego Movie.

Here is a portion of the nice cover page of the report to tantalize you into delving into the number, because I’m not going to do it.

Instead I’ll just quote a portion of the “executive summary” to give you a flavor of the narrative aspect of this report:

Film industry activity has grown significantly in Montana in recent years. Since the enactment of the Montana Economic Development Industry Advancement (MEDIA) Act on July 1, 2019, there has been a 70 percent increase in content production from ten years ago. Despite that increase, the footprint of the industry remains modest, and knowledge of the scope and nature of its activities is limited. Certainly, we are all consumers of the output of the film and entertainment industries, but awareness of what takes place to produce that content is not common in our state.

This study is aimed at addressing that situation. By examining the actual activities of a major television production carried out in the Bitterroot Valley, we not only can learn how those activities combine to make the Montana economy larger and more prosperous. We also achieve a better understanding of what a major production like the television show Yellowstone entails, and why its presence within the state makes such significant economic contributions.

What this study is NOT tracking is the politics being played by Yellowstone and its patriarchal star, Kevin Costner. Those politics involve making tax breaks for filming in Montana BIGGER, and wearing shirts that support Liz Cheney.

With Costner playing very visible politics right now, it’s interesting to recall how a very popular local conservative was put in front of the cameras during the season 4 finale episode.

While the Montana Film Office takes calls for the Fire and Ice Assistant Location Manager, who can’t even get a working phone number out to local businesses, I’m going to continue tracking the more difficult to quantify impacts of what Costner and his $1.2 million dollar pay day PER EPISODE means to the little people who take the inconveniences as they are handed out by the influencers in the hopes they won’t be snuffed out like so many businesses were during the scamdemic.

Now, here’s the clip I recorded yesterday as the crew worked behind me. It’s important to note I don’t have any issues with people working their jobs behind the scenes (unless you’re the private security guy who tried physically intimating me after hours).

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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1 Response to A Yellowstone Skirmish On West Main Street As The Larger Narrative War Continues

  1. JC says:

    About that non-working phone number.

    In the flyer, the second set of digits is “476.” In the Film Office letter below that, the second set is “746.” Of course, this gives Weatherford the cover that someone was dyslexic when putting an inaccurate phone number on the flyer — where lots of pissed off downtowners would see it and call, but never get through. And he can claim that he didn’t receive any complaints.

    But, from experience, I know this is a tactic, not an oversight. People who don’t want you to call them, but from necessity (good PR) have to provide a number, will often use fake dyslexia as an excuse. How do I know? I do it all the time… I know many others that do too. I’ve done it so many times I have a hard time remembering what my SSN really is.

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