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Montana Film Office Names "Magpie" Winner of "Pitch the 406" Contest

By: Lori Warden | February 21, 2012

Montana filmmakers receive $20,000 production package to tell a Montana story in the Big Sky state.

There is more sky to shoot in eastern Montana than in any place in the world. And the horizon of a few Montana filmmakers to make an independent feature on the plains of eastern Montana just got a lot bigger. Filmmaker Matthew Smaglik and his team were named winners of the Montana Film Office's "Pitch the 406" contest on Sunday, January 22, at the Sundance Film Festival - winning a $20,000 production package to produce their project, called "Magpie."

"We're very grateful to the film office for the opportunity," said Matthew Smaglik. "The production package will help us achieve our full financing and enable us to produce a film that tells the story of real-life issues facing eastern Montanans."

"Magpie" explores the current Bakken oil boom in eastern Montana, telling the fictional story of a ranch family and how it adapts to the changing world. The script outlines the struggles of a stepfather and his daughter over control and ownership of their family's future - torn between the fortunes to be made in the oil boom and keeping the traditions of family ranching alive.

"Eastern Montana is a changing landscape. The vast plains, home to farming and ranching communities for generations, are changing more than almost anywhere else in the country," said Smaglik. "We're excited to tell this story and show people a region of Montana many people have never seen."

Smaglik and his production company, Sanshead Studios, will begin scouting locations in eastern Montana this spring and plan to shoot this summer. The young filmmaker shot his first independent feature the summer of 2011 in Dillon, Mont. The drama, called "Cooper," is currently in the post-production process and will soon be on the film festival circuit.

"We were impressed with all the submissions to our 'Pitch the 406' contest," said Sten Iversen, Montana film commissioner. "Our film industry judges very much liked the potential of 'Magpie,' and we look forward to helping the project come to fruition."

The Montana Film Office launched the "Pitch the 406" contest in September 2011, calling for interested filmmakers to submit a video pitch on why their project should be made in the Big Sky state. All 28 video pitch submissions, including "Magpie," can be viewed at

As the winning filmmaker, Smaglik will receive $20,000 worth of rent-free equipment and labor - from grip trucks, cranes and lighting to experienced crew - offered through Filmlites Montana.

For more information on all of Montana's one-of-a-kind locations and the Studio 406 Incentive Package, visit the Montana Film Office at

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