Laurel grad advances to finals in anti-meth video contest

Connor Ludwig had a goal in mind when he started working on a video contest for the Meth Project, an anti-drug group.

“I’ve seen, like, all the meth commercials in the past, and I’ve always kind of been intrigued,” he said. “They’re kind of scary, almost, but they send a message.”

The recent Laurel High graduate is one of three finalists in the national #LifeOrMeth contest, which received more than 120 entries.

Ludwig doesn’t have personal experience with meth, but he said he’s seen the effect of drugs on family members. He geared his video toward a teenage audience.

“Of course they’ve probably heard of meth before, but they may not know what effects it can have,” he said.

Ludwig focuses on only one effect in his commercial, which shows a teenage girl narrating her death.

“(It’s) the darkest out of the 10 that made the finals, I believe,” he said. “I think that’s what makes the strongest impact of people. If this drug can cause death, I think myself personally I wouldn’t attempt to do it.”

Filmmaking is a hobby for Ludwig, who plans to study computer science at Montana State University next year. He worked on the video at home and school, finishing up before the end of May.

Ludwig advanced to a round of 10 finalists before the field was narrowed to three. The overall winner, judged by a celebrity panel, will be announced in September and receive a $20,000 prize.

Montana Meth Project finalist says video is very personal


One local Whitefish resident scored the spot as a finalist in a video contest to help fight against meth addiction.

The non-profit Montana Meth Project works to fight against meth use with public service ads, outreach and education.

Laira Fonner, a psychiatric nurse, says she lost someone close to her who was a meth user.

“I love our native cultures here, I think they’re so beautiful and interesting and meth has really hit the native cultures especially hard,” she said.

The top three of the 10 finalists with the most ‘likes’ on Facebook will move onto the finale.

The winners will be announced September 1st.

Click here to cast your vote.

Two Montanans in top 10 for Life or Meth video contest

Two Montanans are finalists in the nationwide Life or Meth video contest – with a prize of $20,000 on the line.

Commercials from Laira Fonner of Whitefish and Connor Ludwig of Laurel were named to the top 10 in the 2016 Life or Meth video contest. During a three-month period, filmmakers from across the United States submitted more than 120 30-second anti-meth commercials.

The theme of the contest was the choice between life or meth, said Ludwig, 18.

“This is my first time doing something like this,” Ludwig said. “Film is just a side hobby for me.”

The top 10 commercials are in an online-voting competition until Friday, July 15, to narrow the pool to three finalists who will be in the running for the grand prize of $20,000. The grand prize winner will be selected by a celebrity panel and announced Sept. 1.

The submissions, along with other commercials submitted by Montanans, will play a key role in continuing the Meth Project’s message throughout 2016 and into 2017. Each entry will be showcased through the Montana Meth Project’s social media networks.

Four Meth Project states participated in the contest – Colorado, Georgia, Idaho and Montana – and each Meth Project board and staff voted on the top 10 submissions, which recently were showcased at SeriesFest in Denver. SeriesFest is an event that brings together people who want to advance compelling and creative content.

Voting for commercials takes place at

“I am a psychiatric nurse and work with a lot of meth addicts and recovering addicts,” Fonner said.  “I’ve seen lives destroyed by meth; especially young people in the community, and I wanted my entry to touch on that.”

Bold and striking anti-meth mural goes up in Helena


Graffiti artist Cole Kerby, spray paint can in hand, was putting finishing touches on his bold and bright anti-meth mural Monday noon at the Helena Housing Authority.

A flamboyant rainbow of colors, Kerby’s mural at the Helena Housing Authority on Billings Avenue depicts some of Helena’s most prominent landmarks — the surrounding mountains, the Cathedral of St. Helena, Helena Civic Center and the Capitol.

Arching overhead is the slogan “Not Even Once” and “Not in Our House” — with the banner Montana Meth Project below.

The mural is a joint project of the Montana Meth Project and Helena Housing Authority.

Kerby hopes his mural sparks conversations.

The mural catches the eye of students attending Helena High School, which is located across the street from the mural.

Kerby chose joyous colors to spark viewer curiosity and interest.

“I hope it sheds light on the subject,” he said. “Meth abuse is such a dark subject.”

Ideally, people pause, particularly kids, and ask “What is this?” And that this leads them to talk to each other about the dangers of using meth.

He finished the mural in record time, starting in on Sunday morning and wrapping up on Monday. But he had done quite a bit of work in pre-planning and sketching the design, so he was ready to transfer it to his 8 by 32 foot canvas.

Kerby, a graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle and Columbus College of Art and Design, is a tattoo artist, graphic designer and glass blower.

Painting graffiti murals “is more of a hobby,” he said, but he looks forward to the opportunity to do more.

Ensuring that Helena Housing Authority units are not contaminated by meth is a high priority, said HHA executive director Leslie Torgerson, which is why they launched the mural project.

In previous years, 32 HHA housing units were contaminated, she said, requiring $250,000 in clean-up costs. As a result, HHA recently adopted an aggressive anti-meth policy.

“The mural is …such a unique and inviting way to …spur conversation,” about the dangers of meth, said Amy Rue, executive director of Montana Meth Project. “This is just such an authentic way to get the conversation started.”

For more information, contact the Montana Meth Project,

Anti-Meth Mural

(MTN News-HELENA) More than 100 cans of spray paint, and 10 hours of work – and a mural was created with a bright message standing against meth use in Montana.

You can see the 8×32-foot anti-meth mural on a Helena Housing Authority building.

The graffiti reads “meth, not even once, not in our house” and displays iconic Helena landmarks including the Civic Center and Fire Tower.

The Montana Meth Project funded the art installation to be a constant reminder of the Helena Housing Authority’s commitment to fighting meth in the community.

Montana’s First Lady Lisa Bullock stopped by the mural to talk with Cole Kerby, the professional graffiti artist.

Kerby said of the mural, “I played with color and (used) happy looking characters instead of the typical dark and gruesome stuff that you see associated with this kind of subject.”

The changing face of meth use in Missoula


Methamphetamine is flowing into Montana at an alarming rate and use has spiked statewide over the past several years, leaving a trail of devastation it its wake.

Graphic depictions of symptoms of meth abuse became commonplace in Montana in the early 2000’s. now, a new group of users is baffling law enforcement and the Montana Meth Project.

First time users are getting older and drug investigators are seeing the increase in meth busts align itself with an increase in child drug endangerment cases. Back in 2010, Montana Child and Family Services reported 230 kids in care of the state because of meth. But now, well over 1,000 children are now wards of the state.

“The alarming part of it is you have parents who the safety and well-being of their child is supposed to be front and foremost, before anything else, yet they end up smoking methamphetamine and they’re exposing their child,” said Missoula Police Detective Sergeant Ed McLean, who oversees the HIDTA Task Force.

Reporter Augusta McDonnell goes On Special Assignment during the Monday 10:00 News to find out more on the domino effect meth use has set off across Missoula’s cops, courts and foster care system.

Montana Meth Project puts out call to enter national commercial competition


The Montana Meth Project is calling on filmmakers to submit 30-second creative commercials for a national competition.

The winnings include a grand prize of $20,000 and nationwide airtime.

Previous commercials have influenced viewers through graphic campaigns depicting addicts with organizers saying that this is an opportunity for filmmakers to influence coming generations of teens to keep their distance from the drug.

Executive Director Amy Rue says that Montana teens have been leading the fight against meth abuse for over 10 years now.

“I think we’ve all had our experiences with meth in our own towns, and certainly among, uh, across the state. This contest then provides a great venue for Montanans to raise their voice, tell their own story, and then share it with the world in a digital format,” Rue said.

The final due date for commercial entries– which will be judged on everything from cinematography to screen writing — is May 31. The Montana Meth Project will select 10 of the best candidates to showcase at Series Fest in Denver.

The winner will be announced on Sept. 1.

Montana Meth Project is accepting film-maker submissions for national contest


The Montana Meth Project is now accepting submissions from Treasure State film-makers for a national 30-second commercial competition, with a grand prize of $20,000 and nationwide air time for the winner.

A press release from the Montana Meth Project says that film-makers are encouraged to create an “impactful commercial” centered on the theme of “Life Or Meth.”

The submissions will be evaluated by four of the Meth Project executive directors from across the country.

The 10 best submissions will be invited to participate in a panel at Series Fest in Denver, Colorado, from June 22-26, 2016.

The 10 panelists will then be filtered down to the top three via an online voting competition in July 2016, with the final winner determined by a celebrity panel of judges and announced September 1, 2016.

Additional prizes of $2,500 and travel for two to Series Fest in Denver will also be awarded to the top production in each of these Meth Project partner states: Colorado, Montana, Idaho and Georgia.

“This contest is an outstanding opportunity for Montanans to show the rest of the country why we have been the standard bearer for Meth prevention, , how creative we can be and that as a state we are dedicated to fighting Meth use,” said Amy Rue, the director of the Montana Meth Project.

“We have all had our experiences with meth in our towns and our state. This contest provides a great venue for Montanans to raise their voice, tell their story and share it with the world,” said Rue.

Previous Meth Project commercials have influenced viewers through graphic campaigns that followed young adults from first-time users to full-blown addicts as a means of educating people about the dangers of using methamphetamine.

All entries will be screened and approved by the Montana Meth Project and will be judged on the following criteria: cinematography, screenwriting, sound, acting, editing, originality, and the thematic integration of “Life Or Meth.”

Once submitted, each applicant will be competing nationally in an online contest.

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“Huckleberries” to the sharp decline in meth use among Montana teens. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey clocked the decrease at 63 percent since 2005, and reported that only 3 percent of teens said they had used meth at least once – down from 8.3 percent in 2005. And on that note, “huckleberries” en plein air to the winners of the Montana Meth Project’s Paint the State contest! The project announced that its celebrity panel had chosen six teenagers whose public art projects helped spread the anti-meth message. The winners, who will share a total $30,000 in prize money, are Britt Juchem of Missoula, Briar Ahlborn of St. Ignatius, Peyton Schliep of Great Falls, Jacob Jones of Belgrade, Laura Goulet of Belgrade and Ross Peterson of Missoula.”


Survey Shows Montana Teen Meth Use Is Down 63 Percent Since 2005

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
By Emilie Ritter Saunders

Montana’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) has found that meth use among teens in the state has sharply declined since 2005, while teen meth use has stayed consistent since 2009. The voluntary survey of teens is conducted every two years by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the 2015 YRBS, 3 percent of teens surveyed said they had used meth one or more times, that’s down from 8.3 percent in 2005.

“Although at times it seems like a relentless battle with never-ending obstacles, these numbers show that over the last five years the awareness and prevention efforts of organizations like the Montana Meth Project have had a significant impact,” Cascade County Attorney John Parker said.

The most recent HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Study found that the ability for individuals to produce meth efficiently and in large quantities in the region has been significantly degraded due to increased legislation and public awareness campaigns such as the Montana Meth Project.

“The ongoing and consistent anti-meth message that covers our state continues to educate and build confidence among teens that trying meth simply isn’t worth it,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau said. “The next generation of Montanans are fully aware of meth’s harmful effects. The Montana Meth Project’s ‘not even once’ message is working.”

The teen brain is a work in progress, making it more vulnerable than the mature brain to the physical effects of meth use. A Columbia University study found that the potential for developing substance abuse and dependence is substantially greater when an individual’s first exposure to meth occurs during adolescence. Combating meth use among Montana teens is the first step to decreasing meth addiction among Montana adults.

“Once an adult becomes addicted to meth it’s incredibly difficult to get through to their rational brain. If we can reach high-risk populations during their teen years with a strong and informative anti-meth message, they are less likely to become addicted in adulthood and we will start to see a generational change to meth addiction in Montana,” said Amy Rue, Executive Director of the Montana Meth Project.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a biennial survey which measures health risk behaviors that result in mortality and morbidity. The Office of Public Instruction has been conducting YRBS with Montana schools since 1991.

The 2015 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey was conducted in February 2015 by the Montana Office of Public Instruction and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).