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Short film shot in Red Lodge screening at Roman Theater to benefit nonprofit

By Kelsey Merison,


A bit of movie magic is happening in Carbon County this week. A local director’s short film, shot entirely in Red Lodge, is being screened on Wednesday evening at the Roman Theater to raise money for Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.

“The short film is about our protagonist, Willow, who is taking over a demon-hunting business from her grandmother. She is this 13-year-old who has a lot of ambition, but maybe not a lot of experience because she’s very young. It is a pro-feminist film," said Neil Carlson, the director, editor, and producer of the short film, on Tuesday. "So the demons are almost like, if you watched 'Ghostbusters', there’s sort of that level of camp. We didn’t do a lot of costume work or special effects makeup. We just put white on some faces and made them kind of ghastly." Kelsey Merison/MTN News
Still from the 'Demon Girlz' trailer

Carlson is a Montana native. He grew up in Broadview and also spent time in Red Lodge but went away to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, to study broadcasting, theater and journalism. He’s now back in the Treasure State, where he put his degree to use creating the satirical film called 'Demon Girlz' .

“It took a really quick amount of time to get this produced. We rushed it for about three or four months so we could film in September before the snow fell. So it was a quick turnaround from starting production into getting to protection,” Carlson said. “I lived in Red Lodge for about seven years and then I was in Bozeman for a little bit. Now I’m just kind of around, but Montana’s my home." Kelsey Merison/MTN News
Neil Carlson

Eight out of the film’s nine actors are from Red Lodge.

"We filmed at The Pollard Hotel, where I used to bartend, and it was easy to get into. They were very accommodating," Carlson joked.

The production was made possible through a $6,000 grant from the Montana Film Office .

"When I got that, I was incredibly excited," Carlson said.

The screening will take place at 7 p.m. on May 31 at the Roman Theater , located at 120 Broadway Ave. S. in Red Lodge. Kelsey Merison/MTN News
Roman Theater in Red Lodge

Wednesday’s screening is about a lot more than just showing off the production. It’s benefitting Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS) of Carbon and Stillwater counties. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for the nonprofit.

"We (serve the community) primarily through a 24-hour helpline staffed by volunteers as well as staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has completely free and confidential services, as are all of our services at DSVS,” said Hayden Ramsey, the violence prevention educator at DSVS in Red Lodge, on Tuesday. “The need in Carbon and Stillwater County is no greater, nor is it any less than the need for an organization like ours anywhere you might go in the country. From large cities to rural towns, interpersonal violence is a large issue, and programs like ours exist everywhere." Kelsey Merison/MTN News
Hayden Ramsey

Ramsey said if you can't make it to the screening, there are other ways to help out DSVS.

“We do accept donations. Our website is, and that will lead you through to a link where you can donate online. We also are always looking for volunteers," Ramsey said. "We have lower barrier entries to volunteerism. We have a thrift store that we run in town called ‘Home Again’ where we resell furniture that is donated to us in the community. First, we offer it up to any clients who might be in need, and then it’s for sale. So we need volunteers to run that store as well as our mentoring program."

And Ramsey believes this short film reflects the positive relationships the nonprofit encourages.

"Our kind of known tagline is, ‘Everyone deserves healthy relationships’ and our mission is to end generational violence. Which is a big mission, but generational violence affects all of us. Interpersonal violence affects all of us," Ramsey said. "The film itself is a great way to get our message out about healthy relationships. And also, they’ve just been lovely to work with and have made it so easy as a nonprofit that is often understaffed to be able to have a fundraising event like this, with minimal effort on our part."

Carlson also has a personal connection to the nonprofit. His aunt, Virginia Korus Spragg, who wrote the short film , used to spend her free time volunteering with the service. Kelsey Merison/MTN News
Roman Theater marquee

"My aunt was actually a volunteer for the organization a decade or so ago. So I’ve always been kind of within the realm of DSVS. I know the people who work there, and it’s one of the most supported organizations within Carbon County and Stillwater County," Carlson said. "I just have this immense support for organizations like DSVS and for women like my aunt and my friends and the young people in this film."

Supporting a good cause while also pursuing a passion.

To learn more about the short film, click here.

To learn more about DSVS, click here.

“I just want to make another plug for making film in Montana. It’s wonderful to see all these new projects that are coming in, you know to the Bozeman area, don’t forget Red Lodge of course," Carlson said. "I think it’s a great community. The film community in Montana are all very supportive of one another. I’m just excited to make more films here."

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