South Dakota has a small but growing film industry that has brought a number of filmmakers and movie stars to our state, ranging from Kevin Costner’s world-renowned Dances With Wolves to Disney’s National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets starring Nic Cage, from Michael Apted’s Thunderheart starring Val Kilmer and Graham Greene to portions of the epic 1950’s western How the West Was Won.
With majestic landscapes and unique resources, it’s no surprise that several movies both notable and otherwise have been filmed right here in Hot Springs. What is a surprise is just how many there are! Today we’re counting them down!
Crazy Horse – 1996 – TNT Films
Directed by John Irvin, Crazy Horse is a made-for-TV film about the legendary Native American leader, who is portrayed by Michael Greyeyes. Much of the filming was done at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, and the re-creation of Fort Robinson made for the film can still be visited on tours. Unfortunately, Crazy Horse has not been released on DVD or digitally, but one may still be able to find used VHS tapes.
Hidalgo – 2004 – Touchstone Pictures
Directed by Joe Johnston and starring Viggo Mortenson hot off the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hidalgo is the Hollywood-ized story of Frank Hopkins, a real life cowboy, and his horse, the eponymous Hidalgo, who enter and compete in a 3,000 mile race across a Middle Eastern desert. Early scenes in the film were shot near Hot Springs at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, before the movie hits its stride with the main action-adventure story. It’s a mostly-family-friendly movie, fun to watch with a bowl of popcorn.
Into The Wild – 2007 – Paramount Vantage
Directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild is about the real life story of Christopher McCandless, who traveled across America on foot and eventually died in the wilderness of Alaska. While South Dakota only features in a minor part of the movie, one scene was filmed at the Fall River County Jail and another was filmed at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
Into the Wild can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Into-Wild-Emile-Hirsch/dp/B000ZN802W
Raising the Mammoth – 2000 – Discovery Channel
This documentary, aired on the Discovery Channel, depicts the story of the Jarkov Mammoth and the challenges in attempts to raise it from its frozen grave in Siberia. Dr. Larry Agenbroad (1933-2014) who was the Mammoth Site director, is featured as well as the Site itself.
Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde – 2013 – Running Wild Films
Running Wild premiered in 2013 and took film festivals around the nation by storm. Directed by Suzanne Mitchell, this documentary tells the life story of Black Hills Wild Horse Santuary founder Dayton Hyde. This must-watch film showcases beautiful high-definition video of Black Hills scenery and pacing that captures Mr. Hyde’s personality and the charm & passion of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Running Wild is available for purchase through several outlets and is available for streaming on Netflix as of May 2015, but is also available to purchase through the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary’s website, www.wildmustangs.com.
Dawn of Conviction – 2012 – Companion Pictures
Made by students from Fairfield University, Dawn of Conviction is a wonderful independent western about three brothers and the cast includes a handful of local actors as well, including Jim Kent and Larry White Crow, with several scenes shot at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. More information about the movie can be found here: http://faculty.fairfield.edu/mediacenter/dawn_of_conviction/
Until Forever – 2015 – Linn Productions (In Production)
Rapid City filmmakers Michael and Marc Linn and their production company, known for previous South Dakota-made films such as Imprint and Into His Arms, looked to Hot Springs in 2014 to shoot parts of the new film Until Forever, based on an inspiring true story about the life of Michael Boyum, a young man diagnosed with leukemia who decides to make the best of the time he has left. Several scenes were shot at locations like Hot Springs High School and Fall River Health Services, utilizing locals for extras. Until Forever is expected to be released this year. Learn more at: www.facebook.com/UntilForeverTheMovie
Walter’s Return – 2014 – Babydoe Films
This touching short film by Hot Springs-based filmmaker Wendee Pettis was released as part of an anthology film about people hiking the Black Hills. In it, Larry White Crow portrays a grieving widower who goes to his “old stomping ground” to face his fear for freeing his emotions. Well paced and emotional, Walter’s Return showcases some of the best of Hot Springs’ more recent homegrown film community. Learn more at www.facebook.com/Hikethemovie
Johnny Vik (aka The Hunted) – 1977 – Charles Nauman Productions
Starring Warren Hammack, Johnny Vik is about a disturbed Vietnam War veteran who is on the run from the authorities after returning home and causing trouble. Filmed in and around the Black Hills, several scenes for Johnny Vik were filmed in Hot Springs, including a car chase on the viaduct. The film is extremely hard to find except on old, used foreign VHS tapes but is a very adult-themed film.
Never Been to Graceland – 2017 – Skeeter Bite Productions
This quiet exploration of “the King’s” legacy and impact on music fans had a handful of scenes shot in and around Hot Springs, including a pivotal scene filmed at Hills Inn Hot Springs. Never Been to Graceland premiered at the historic Hot Springs Theatre in 2017 and was later screened at the Black Hills Film Festival.