Former MT Film Commissioner Says Films Were Refused Based On Religion
Former Montana Film Office Bureau Chief Deny Staggs says he left his position with the state after a reorganization at the Department of Commerce left many of the state’s programs in disarray. Staggs says Deputy Director Doug Mitchell began making executive decisions that, in at least one case, led to planned Montana films having to move elsewhere.
“I wasn’t able to confidently go out and promote the state,” said Staggs. “For instance, I had two films under one producer, two holiday films that were going to film in Anaconda. It was going to be about a $75,000 grant request. In turn, they were going to spend up to a half of million dollars in Anaconda in November. I think October and November is probably pretty slow in Anaconda and they can use that money.”
Staggs says the films fulfilled all of the grant requirements, but they were turned down because Mitchell objected to religious themes.
“I was told no by the director and I asked why,” Staggs said. “He said ‘well it is a Christmas movie’ and I said ‘OK’ and he goes ‘well it is religion’. I literally said this, this is funny, I said so if ‘It’s A Wonderful Life 2’ was wanting to film in Montana you would say no? I got a bit of a look on that.”
Staggs isn’t the only individual from the former Montana Promotions Office that has left the job, out of an original staff of 27, Doug says that less than five remain after the reorganization.