Where are they now? Followup on people you saw in The Overnighters documentary.
The PBS pages set up to talk about The Overnighters documentary have a lot of information. PBS aired the documentary on June 29.
There is a 19 minute interview with Jesse Moss. Most of the comments there will be familiar to anyone who’s read lots of posts on my blog or watched the documentary. If you weren’t aware of what is happening in the North Dakota oil fields before watching the documentary, that interview would be a great way to get up to speed.
Here is some update on the characters and then general goal of the documentary.
Background and follow-up of the main subjects of the documentary
The “About the Characters” page gives some background of many of the people the documentary focuses upon.
The “Film Update” page follows up on several of the people.
Jay Reinke is still living in Williston. As of the date of this page, he is working for an oil field supply company. That is the same type of company he was working for about six months after the program closed which was also when he was removed from his pastoral duties. If I recall correctly, he got that job about a month before the director’s cut was recorded.
I don’t know he has been working for the same company all this time. There was a hint in one of Mr. Moss’ online interviews (forget which one) that Mr. Reinke has worked for several oil field companies.
There is a lot more update to give, but others need to provide that information. As I find public comments, I will accumulate them for mention later.
Michael was the electrician who was otherwise thriving in Williston. His wife couldn’t stand him being away so he packed up and went home to salvage his marriage.
His salvage effort was not successful.
He now has custody of his daughter. While he is working in Pennsylvania and West Virginia helping to retrofit coal plants, his mother and sister-in-law are caring for his daughter.
That he did not succeed in Williston is not a comment on the economy there. Instead it is a consequence of the disintegration of his marriage.
Keegan was thriving in the movie with a recent promotion until he suffered severe injuries in a truck roll over. Since the movie ended he has finished his recovery, moved to Phoenix, found a job there, lost it, was homeless a month, and moved back home again. He and his wife now have two children. He plans to go to culinary school but is currently spending his time caring for his children.
The sad irony, which is in conflict with the documentary’s theme, is that he was doing great in Williston and has floundered since he left. In terms of the story of his life we are aware of from the documentary and followup, Williston is the only place he succeeded, as our world defines success. On the other hand, I feel having two precious children is success in itself.
Perhaps he could try Williston again. There is a lot more housing available now.
Pages provide no followup on Alan and Paul. Presumably these are some of the people mentioned by Mr. Moss that drifted out of contact. I will have more comments on them as I finish my reflections on the director’s cut.
Missing from the PBS follow-up is Keith Graves. He was identified by Mr. Moss in the director’s cut as one of the overnighters who survived.
He didn’t survive for long.
Readers of this blog know that he is currently in federal custody preparing his self-defense for a July trial on ten felony charges, including seven counts of human trafficking. The Feds allege the trafficking started during the time filming for the documentary was underway.
General goal of the documentary
Two comments provide background on the goal of the documentary, along with insights to Mr. Moss’ worldview. He asserts in the interview that the Bakken oil field was promised to be the
salvation of the US economy.
I’m not sure where he would have seen the idea that the North Dakota oil fields would single-handedly pull the entire economy out of recession.
On the other hand, drilling in three tight oil fields (Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian Basin) has created a world-wide glut of oil and has so disrupted the market that Saudi Arabia has lost their veto power over the world economy. The oil ministers in OPEC can no longer push prices up or down as they wish.
He indicated in the interview his goal was to cover the “human toll” of the new drilling. Not sure if that was his goal at the beginning or as it developed during filming.
I was able to attend a Q&A session hosted by Mr. Moss after viewing the documentary back when it was in initial limited release. During the Q&A, a questioner said the movie was completely different from what he expected. He was thinking this would be a variation of “Gasland”, which is a harshly anti-fracking movie. Mr. Moss said something to the effect that he had been thinking about that as an approach but decided on a different direction.
Another thread of the story in Williston I’d like to develop some day is the role of media. Part of that was Mr. Moss himself, as he discusses in the interview. A major discussion would be the local newspaper.
He said one part of the overall story is the Williston Herald’s role
both reporting on and sometimes inflaming the fears of the community
in their coverage of the people staying at the church.