I waited in my car, finishing up a few phone call errands, while my wife went inside. The place was familiar, with a crowd I knew and liked, but we were meeting someone very unfamiliar, who wanted something of mine that is very dear to me.
As I hung up from my last call, I grabbed a copy of my band’s CD and went inside. The comforting atmosphere of the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. immediately set my mind at ease as I scanned the heads of patrons looking for my wife, Rae.
My eyes landed on her sitting across the table from George Moncure, Andre Brown and two other men I’d never met. The meeting had begun without me, so I ordered a Black Widow (with nitro - delicious!) and quietly pulled up a stool.
My wife and George had both met these two gentlemen before, so I decided to just listen. The men were Michael J. Hitchcock, co-founder of Billings-based P210 Productions, and Karim Eshbaugh, associate producer. (I would meet Dave Bulkley, the other co-founder of the company, at a later meeting). The two co-founders met in the Army in Korea.
It seems they had decided to make a movie in Billings and wanted my band’s music in it. The music I’ve helped to create with my band is very dear to me and I guard it closely. This could go a lot of different directions, and I was suspicious.
What I discovered, to my delight, is that these men are just regular guys. They were very open with us about all the things they are working on, offering to give us details of expenses, giving us details of their past, and even letting us know what they’re going to do with our music.
I’ve been in sales or running my own business for most of my adult life, so I’ve gotten pretty good at smelling bovine vegetation enhancement. There was none to be detected. This was quickly becoming more and more interesting.
The movie being produced is called “The Writer’s Ghost.” The story is about a writer who buys a house in the Billings area. It’s a comfortable, older home that she adores. She’s received her second book deal and is ready to get to work when she discovers that someone else is still “living” in the house.
It’s a ghost that seems friendly enough at first, but when she begins to date a handsome young man, things take a turn for the frightening. This movie is suspenseful and titillating, with a great plot and a surprise ending that will be sure to stay with you.
After that meeting and several more, my wife and I talked. We talked at length about the project, the local involvement and possible problems with the people. We decided that sure, Michael and Dave seemed like normal Joes, but then again, isn’t that what a good con artist would do too?
So we continued to perform our due diligence. We talked to people and got their take, we searched online profiles and pored over print information. In the end, we determined these guys are the real deal.
I suppose that 40 years of dealing with humans has made me just slightly cynical, but as the saying goes, when all is said and done, there’s a lot more said than done.
As an entrepreneur I’m used to being the one who plans, starts and executes a project, but coming in on this project has been very different. We’ve found that the folks involved in this movie, and there are many, are motivated and passionate about what they do. This has translated into real results.
Perhaps it’s Michael and Dave’s military background or perhaps it’s their individual experience in the private sector, but one thing is assured: These guys can make things happen!
The movie will begin shooting in April with a soundtrack showcase party on April 5 at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. Two local bands to be featured in the movie, Omnithex and ENDever, will be headlining the show, with other local musicians supporting.
The showcase will be a fitting beginning to what will be an exciting month in Billings, with members of the cast and crew all present and mingling with the good people of Billings.
The film also has a Kickstarter campaign going, and a webpage with Facebook and Twitter updates. Go to www.p210productions.com.
My take-away from this project? Regular people can accomplish extraordinary things in the most unlikely of locations. All it takes is a good idea, lots of determination and most of all, teamwork from your community.
Come out and support this movie, Billings. You’ll be proud that something like this can be done here in the Magic City!