Butte: The Original

BUTTE:
THE ORIGINAL

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By Dick Maney and BJ McKenzie

BUTTE: THE ORIGINAL

A documentary feature length film about Butte, Montana
You can purchase your own copy of "Butte: the Original" on DVD ($24.95) and BLURAY ($24.95)
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"...A MASTERPIECE"

Former Butte residents Keith and Deb Koprovika of Missoula wrote: “My wife and I attended the screening of Butte the Original last Friday evening in Missoula. It was FABULOUS! Words cannot describe the emotions that we felt watching this gorgeous film about our home town. Thank you for bringing it to Missoula and thank you for creating such a masterpiece.” 

“Butte: the Original” is a film about real events and real people, so it is by definition a documentary. But his film has a unique approach—a little like the community it is about. Tom Satterly, for example, appears at the start of the film wearing a miner’s slicker and carrying a “turkey” and a shovel. But it’s his own garb and his own tools, and the stories he tells are also his own—and true.

BUTTE: THE ORIGINAL PHOTOS

ABOUT THE FILM

The film is an historically accurate account of the events in Butte’s rich history that shaped the communities unique traditions and character. Butte has always been a mining town; it is also a community made up of immigrants from 39 different countries whose ethnic diversities merged in the crucible of underground hard rock mining, fostering a culture of working together, of protecting one another, of finding common ground, of emerging from downtimes not embittered but emboldened, and facing down adversity, if not to thrive, then to persevere. That is what makes Butte unique and that is what this film is about. 
The filmmakers, Dick Maney and B.J. McKenzie, began working on what they then called “The Butte Film” in 2000. Over the next 10 years, their work was interrupted to make some 36 other, shorter and unrelated films. Despite the starts and stops, “The Butte Film” continued to evolve over time and the filmmakers never lost sight of their ultimate goal: to bring their vision of Butte to the screen. 

A RICH HISTORY

“Butte: the Original” became a personal look at the city’s rich history and its people. The 84-minute film focuses on the archival and oral history of Butte, complete with vintage mining photographs, present day recollections of retired miners, and never-before-seen footage of Butte. All of the scenes were photographed and filmed in Butte, and much of it, such as the scenes of Columbia Gardens and the building of Our Lady of the Rockies, is the original cinematography of the filmmakers. By the way, all of the film crew and all of the “cast of characters” depicted in the film have lived and worked in Butte. 

OUR SPONSOR

The Atlantic Richfield Company, which has been involved for more than 25 years in the clean up of mine wastes and former mining sites in the Butte area, sponsored the film and presented it as a tribute and a thank you to the community. “Butte: the Original” premiered at the Mother Lode Theater in Butte in 2010. It has since been shown in Missoula, Anaconda, Dillon, Livingston, and Bozeman and was recently selected for screening at the Montana Cine International Film Festival in Missoula.

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The Idea


The genesis of "Butte: the Original" was really another film we made for Atlantic Richfield Co. in 1998 about the reclamation of several copper smelter sites in Anaconda, Montana that became a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course. The film, “The Old Works,” was so well received the company asked for a similar film about the mining city of Butte.

The Goal


The filmmakers, Dick Maney and B.J. McKenzie, began working on what they then called “The Butte Film” in 2000. Over the next 10 years, their work was interrupted to make some 36 other, shorter and mostly unrelated films. Despite the starts and stops, “The Butte Film” continued to evolve over time and the filmmakers never lost sight of their ultimate goal: to bring their vision of Butte to the screen.

The Process


"Butte: the Original" became a personal look at the city’s rich history and its people. The 84-minute film focuses on the archival and oral history of Butte, complete with vintage mining photographs, present day recollections of retired miners, and never-before-seen footage of Butte.

Filming


Some of the filming for “Butte: the Original” began long before the concept of the film was finalized. The entire movie was photographed and filmed in Butte, and much of it, such as the scenes of Columbia Gardens (1974) and the building of Our Lady of the Rockies (1986), is the original cinematography of the filmmakers.

Public Response


There were packed houses for all three screenings when "Butte: the Original" premiered at the Mother Lode Theater in Butte in June of 2010. The enthusiasm and effusive comments of the audience after the screenings was gratifying, but we have received similar response from audiences in other communities as well. Many say the film captures Butte as none other has.

Cinematography


When first conceived in 2000, it was decided to shoot an hour long documentary about Butte in a high definition format. Film was the only HD format available at the time, so the film was shot on Super 16mm film. But technology (along with the film) evolved over time, and the last scenes were filmed using the Red One Digital Cinema camera.
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