Three Grants to fund Highlands/Tech Historic Film Series

Three Grants to fund Highlands/Tech Historic Film Series


Highlands College Dean Dr. John Garic announced that Highlands College/Montana Tech has secured three grants to finance the production of a new Montana history film series.  Fifteen thousand dollars in grants -- $5000 each from Humanities Montana, the Montana History Foundation Preserve Montana Fund and the Greater Montana Foundation -- are being matched by a similar amount from Highlands/Tech in support of “In the Crucible of Change,” a 30 segment series for television and the internet.  Each of the 1-hour segments in the film series is being produced and hosted by Evan Barrett, Highlands Instructor and Director of Business & Community Outreach and will feature actual Montana history-makers from the period of 1965-80.

“We at Highlands are committed to helping our students to prepare for the future by better understanding the past,” Garic said.  “The film series we are spearheading will use the creative medium of film to reach today’s students about the major changes Montana went through starting 50 years ago, changes that empowered the people of the state to better control their own destiny.”

The series will be filmed in the studios of Helena Civic Television (HCTV) and will be become a weekly programming staple on HCTV and other Montana Civic TV outlets, as well as on digital broadcast Montana PBS in Montana’s 7 largest cities.  It will also run on the TVMT public affairs channels on fifty-nine Montana cable systems before being permanently available to the world via the internet on Montana Tech’s Digital Commons, a central, open-access repository of scholarly and creative works by the Montana Tech community.

Montana Tech Chancellor Dr. Donald Blackketter said Barrett’s landmark history class, from last year, called 20th Century Montana, “brought in more than a dozen history-makers and set the stage for this new project that expands the actual participants in our historical changes.  Montana Tech is proud to host the entire project on our Digital Commons platform so that anyone around the State, country or world can view the film series.” 
The 1965-80 period being documented is “Montana’s dramatic period of progressive change,” according to Barrett, who added that “it was a time when Montana ripped off its copper collar, stopped being a corporate colony of the Anaconda Company and implemented a governmental and political structure that empowered the people of the state.  During that time, the pitched battle between the people and the older, established power structure was not easily won, but, fired in a crucible of change, a new Montana was born,” according to Barrett.

The history of the period was anchored by a completely reorganized executive branch of state government, a modernized Montana legislature and a new Montana Constitution.  A multi-year battle over the sales tax that began in 1965 and climaxed in 1971 altered Montana’s political climate for decades, even up to today.  “It is imperative that we capture on film the faces, voices and stories of as many of the players of that period as possible so they can record for posterity their real life experiences while they still can,” Barrett said.

Barrett is personally acquainted with most of the participants of all political persuasions scheduled to be part of the film series, having been directly involved in the political arena during that 15-year period.

Pre-production for the series is underway now and filming will begin this month.  Barrett indicated that full filming should take until the end of the year.  As soon as a handful of segments are ready, HCTV will begin to run the segments as a weekly series.


Below are selected quotes from prominent supporters of “In the Crucible of Change”:

  • Pat Williams, former US Congressman: “Barrett … knows the participants and, perhaps more important, he is one of the few Montanans who understands which questions to ask.”
  • Bob Brown, former MT Secretary of State: “Barrett’s critically timely project … of what historians are coming to recognize as ‘Montana’s second progressive era’ will be an invaluable contribution to the history of our state.”
  • Dr. Lawrence Pettit, History PhD: “Barrett … is uniquely qualified … the films will fill a void in our understanding of contemporary Montana history.”
  • Dr. John McNay, History PhD: “the interviews carry with them the culture and heritage of the Montanans who are telling their own story…”
  • Brian Shovers, Oral Historian, MT Historical Society: “Evan’s experience during this pivotal time of 1965-1980 makes him the ideal interviewer of the major players of both parties who took part in this unique period … most of whom he knows personally.”
  • Ian Marquand, 30 year Montana broadcast journalist: “Evan Barrett’s project … featuring Montanans who influenced events from the 1965-1980 period that so greatly changed our state, can be a significant gift to current and future generations of Montanans.”
  • Jay Kohn, 35 year News Anchor/Reporter, Montana Television network: “Such a ‘living history’ of the important chapter of change in Montana from 1965-80 needs to be chronicled … and Evan Barrett … is uniquely qualified to tell the story and put it into perspective.” 

For any further information about this issue or any issue pertaining to Montana Tech or Highlands College, please contact Amanda Badovinac at 406-496-4828 or Dr. John M. Garic at 406-496-3714.