Kickstart Winter in the Blood

Greetings from Montana! My twin brother Andrew and I have had a wonderful 25-year relationship with Sundance Institute. We’ve gone from being Festival volunteers and Institute interns in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s to being writing and directing Sundance Lab Fellows (in 2008), and finally, to having both our first short film, the keening, and our first feature, The Slaughter Rule, premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. We could not be more excited to have our new project, Winter in the Blood, be featured on this site!

We are writing to ask you to become a vital part of our grassroots approach to making a major motion picture—a feature film adaptation of James Welch’s classic (Native) American novel Winter in the Blood.

Production Designer David Storm and Directors Andrew and Alex Smith scouting filming locations for Winter in the Blood.

Our story follows Indian cowboy Virgil First Raise on a hilarious and heartbreaking odyssey across an epic western landscape to retrieve his errant wife and the rifle she stole. Delving into Virgil’s mind via his memories of his lost brother and father, he learns the secret to his true identity, and discovers what it takes to thaw the blood in his veins and finally find the ‘right road home.’ Filming is set to begin this August on and around the “Hi-Line,” in rugged, gorgeous Northern Montana, where Welch grew up, and where the novel is set.

We have an exceptional cast, which includes Chaske Spencer (The Twilight Saga), the ever-epic David Morse (The Hurt Locker, Gary Farmer (Dead Man), Julia Jones (The Twilight Saga), and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Tombstone). We are also thrilled to have two Sundance Institute mainstays as producers—Sherman Alexie (Smoke Signals) and Heather Rae (Frozen River)—and a couple other damn fine producers in Susan Kirr (Tree of Life), and Carl Hampe (Slumdog Millionaire).

Our stellar group of key creative collaborators includes Sundance Institute alumni Eric Edwards and Brent White, and the heart/soul music of Heartless Bastards. We are honored to be translating this landmark contemporary Western to the big screen.

Our quest is to expose this darkly funny, unflinching, ferocious vision to a worldwide audience, via the collective dreamhouse of cinema. We’ve been brainstorming and barnstorming feverishly on this project for more than four years and are, at long last, within shouting distance of being able to call “Action!” But in order to do so--


With your help, a very successful Kickstarter campaign will take us down the homestretch and get us to the “Roll Camera” stage—as well as fund internship positions on the film shoot for Native American students." We invite you to join us on our journey and we also ask you to encourage your friends to check out our project!

Lead photo: