History of the Yellowstone Film Ranch

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Credit Big Sky Journal

The history of Yellowstone Film Ranch and the dream behind it, tells a true story of Montanans coming together for the growth, protection, and servitude of the state. It started with Richard Gray, searching for a location to shoot an upcoming project “Broken Ghost”. With an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” showcasing the quaint western town of Livingston, Montana, Gray headed to Montana.

After arriving, Gray was introduced to Carter Boehm who had acquired quite a bit of real estate within the Livingston area. Boehm, with a rich family history in film, a former audio specialist in the White House, and real estate connoisseur had a vision to return to the film industry. The two quickly saw eye to eye, shooting “Broken Ghost” in Livingston, Montana. Gray and Boehm enjoyed shooting together and decided to work again on their next project, the unaffiliated sequel to Braveheart, “Robert the Bruce”. While filming during the winter of 2018, Gray and Boehm spent time at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana. Colin Davis, the owner of Chico Hot Springs, soon became acquainted with Gray.

Around the same time Gray, Boehm and Davis became acquainted with one another, the Montana film tax initiative was underway. This movement gave filmmakers in Montana tax incentives designed to draw more movies and TV shoots to the state to boost economy. Gray and Boehm worked closely with the Montana Film Commission as lobbyists to pass the MEDIA Act offering 20-35% tax credit to productions that use local crew and cast.

After the MEDIA Act passing, Boehm and Gray decided if they were to build a Western town set, it could also become a studio that other productions could use for the future. Davis suggested building the town right in Chico’s backyard, which made great sense for productions. Location and lodging!

Credit Big Sky Journal

Much of the credit for the Yellowstone Film Ranch’s authentic aura goes to the vision of the three partners, but they had lots of help including production designer Lindsay Moran, and a host of Hollywood set designers. Although the backlot is built specifically for westerns, the idea is to have a variety of films to tell hundreds of Montana stories.

Before the tax credit, many stories told to be in Montana were shot in Canada, Utah or New Mexico. However, now the stories are told right in Paradise Valley providing local jobs and opportunities. The Ranch was completed in June 2020, with a wave of westerns shot in the year of 2021 including Gray’s first western “Murder at Emigrant Gulch”, Nicholas Cage’sThe Old Way”, and many more to wrap up 2021. The mission of the Yellowstone Film Ranch is to be the point of contact for Montana’s burgeoning film industry. Combining full production services, a western town, location services and maximizing the value of Montana’s tax credit.