MISSOULA — There are lots of documentaries, true crime podcasts and programs about the Unabomber but a new movie that just premiered at a prestigious film festival in Berlin explores Ted Kaczynski's life in Lincoln before anyone discovered what he was up to in that tiny cabin.
It's a movie filmed in Montana with a lot of local talent that tells the story in a new way. The first clip of the movie Ted K shows a nervous Ted Kaczynski accepting a ride from a neighbor. He looks uncomfortable as the neighbor teases him about a broken seatbelt.
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This is a movie -- ten years in the making -- that looks at Kaczynski’s life in Lincoln while he was sending mail bombs across the country, living in a tiny cabin, seething about the world’s dependence on technology.
“The script came across my desk. I was very intrigued by it and the take this writer/director had on it,” Ted K movie producer Matt Flanders explained. “It was really focused more on what was happening in Montana during that time that all the explosions were going on, the bombings and what was he doing back in Montana."
Flanders grew up in Helena, so he knew the story and remembers the scenes. And where much has been said of the Unabomber, this movie looks at his life before we even knew who that was.
“The majority of the film is with him. A look at his life and what it was like to live in this tight space so long and trying to give people an idea of what’s going on in his head but no answers -- we can’t understand,” Flanders said. “These are the facts, and [you] make your mind up about into what drove this person. What could he have been had he not been a violent sociopath?"
Hundreds of people turned out for casting calls in 2018 in Helena, Missoula and Lincoln for extras, day players, production crews. It was a production that pumped thousands of dollars into the local economy and created some excitement for those who got a part -- even if they didn’t make it in the last version of the film.
“A lot of the movie was improvisational. We let our actor really improvise and so when we were done, the movie was very long,” Flanders explained. “So, we had to edit it down. So, unfortunately not all of the scenes are in the film. But there’s a lot that are and a lot of local actors who had lines are in the movie, it’s just what happens in the movie. “
Sharlto Copley stars as Ted Kaczynski. The filming took place at the actual property in Lincoln in a replica cabin to show how he interacted with his neighbors. Flanders hopes the people of Lincoln see this as an accurate account of life with a clandestine terrorist -- even if we’ll never know why.
“When you are alone for that amount of time, things going on in your head. Ideas become obsessions and for him, I think that’s what happens,” Flanders said. “He didn’t have human connection for so long it’s hard to humanize people if you don’t have connections with humans. He was so separated, I think. "
Tony Stone directed the movie. It’s in the distribution process now, but Flanders would love to have a showing here. We will let you know when we hear more about when and where you can watch it.