by Nathan Boddy
Kyle Weingart, creator and director of the upcoming film, “Cuisine de la ‘Pocalypse,” is a very busy man. On a recent afternoon, we bounce around the set on a golf cart, weaving between newly constructed buildings and decrepit RVs while he rattles off plans, influences, and a laundry list of things that are currently on his plate. Every few moments, his phone buzzes with another notification.
“We’re calling this the South Hills,” he says while gesturing to a row of creatively built homes on the edge of the set. “We’re going to paint them blue, bright red, make them real cute.” Across from them he nods at another series of homes, all placed at jaunty angles to all other construction. “These are the Slant Streets,” he says with a smile. “What’s hilarious about it is that it (building them) screwed everything up. It’s made so many problems, but you kinda got to have it or it’s not Missoula.”
Weingart isn’t just giving homage to well-known Missoula neighborhoods. The world he’s created for his film, New Missoula, is the apocalyptic remainder of the Garden City, complete with some of its most prominent icons. “We’ve got a Paul’s Pancake [Parlor] out here,” says Weingart, adding that the long standing Missoula restaurant was thrilled to be a part of his vision. Also standing after the downfall of civilization will be Fuel Fitness, Montana Made Coffee, Stitches, and a Pharaohplex Theater as well.
Kyle and Zuzu Weingart are the owners of 99 Productions, an independent film production and social media content management company based in western Montana. Kyle, a
native of Frenchtown, says that he’d always wanted to make movies, but after years of working in L.A., he and Zuzu are happy to be back in Montana. Kyle’s affinity for the larger Missoula and Bitterroot communities is clearly an important part of the filming process, but evident in the topic of the film, “Cuisine de la ‘Pocalypse” as well.
“It’s about not letting the end of the world get in the way of your dreams,” says Weingart, and explains that the movie takes place 10 years after the apocalypse, when an aspiring chef in New Missoula decides to create a cooking show. Ultimately, the chef turns hero as he discovers his culinary ability to vanquish humanity’s enemies. Weingart laughs at the absurdity, but says, “We made it to be the movie that we want to watch.”
But aside from being both comic and apocalyptic, Weingart sees the community of New Missoula not unlike the current hub of five valleys. “It’s a place where everybody can get along, cowboys and hippies alike. A place where people want to go, like ‘M.A.S.H.’ Even though that was in the middle of Korea in a war zone, you kind of want to go visit their camp.”
To hear Weingart discuss the ongoing process of creating New Missoula and the film, the community effort has been very reflective of the film he aims to create. He says that he’s gotten loads of support from local businesses like Massa Home Center, and Bitterroot Shedz, to the local talent for on-screen as well. All of the funding for production has come from local sources, and nearly everyone involved is from the Bitterroot or Missoula, including some youth performing internships from the local high schools.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the people that have been so generous,” says Weingart, adding that even his dad, a ‘fix it’ kind of guy, has built many of the homes on set. “I can’t keep him away!” Weingart exclaims.
That being said, Weingart says that people who are interested in volunteering some time to be an extra on the film are encouraged to contact Nancy Bevins at [email protected] While the thin budget of the film doesn’t allow for payment of most extras, Wiengart and his team want it to be a fun and educational experience for everyone involved.
The movie, which will be filmed largely on site of the Pharaohplex Theater in Hamilton, is scheduled to be filmed in approximately one month, beginning in September and wrapping up within the first half of October. Weingart doesn’t worry himself with spoilers, and is enthusiastic about sharing some of the elements of the film that excite him, such as “top level” zombies with decaying skin and the battle that will ensue between them and alien robots.
“I’m so excited for that moment,” he says. “It’s going to be really cool!”
The future of the film is somewhat uncertain, but Weingart doesn’t seem concerned at present. He hopes it will have a stint in theaters before going on to streaming services, and plans an extensive marketing campaign using social media sources like TikTok. He explains that the whole world of film marketing has changed radically from the days when a “festival run” was the primary avenue for selling a film. Now, he says, “it’s one of those things where, if the right opportunity comes, you just have to take it. We just don’t know what that opportunity will be.”
In the meantime, Weingart seems almost as happy to be giving his crew an opportunity for involvement in this creative process as he does realizing his own dream. “The director’s job at the very end of the day is to give everybody on set an environment that they can thrive in,” he says. “That means the crew, the actors, everybody. You get to create these good feelings for people. It’s rewarding.”
Our tour of New Missoula ends just ‘beyond town,’ when Weingart points to a dilapidated building surrounded by greenery. He’s already thinking about more coordination with the community, this time, the Hamilton Fire Department.
“We haven’t organized this yet, but we’re planning to burn that down.” He laughs and adds, “Visual effect flames never look that good, and man, when you get to burn a building down…”
Almost as an afterthought he adds, “We’re going to fill it with wood so it burns properly.”