Update: Welcome to those arriving on this page via internet search after watching the documentary on PBS. There are many posts I’ve written about The Overnighters. Enjoy!
If you watch the superb documentary “The Overnighters”, you will find that one of the central players is a man by the name of Keith A. Graves. Since the documentary was released he has gotten a lot more public attention and will be in the news even more over the next few months.
I am going to extend my discussion of the documentary beyond what I’ve mentioned before. I’ve been wanting to talk about more things for a long time. My new posts will not be in chronological or logical sequence, instead I will build my coverage one piece at a time.
Because Mr. Graves is such a major part of the story covered in the documentary, I think it is worth following his story. This will reflect back into the documentary as well.
(Lousy photos by James Ulvog of a man camp. This small facility is in a small city between Williston and Minot. There are a lot of these man camps around Western North Dakota that provide basic sleeping and dining facilities. They are all full. Sorry I don’t have pictures of the many that I’ve seen which are far larger than this one.)
Just one aspect of the brilliance of Jesse Moss’s movie “The Overnighters” is that the nuance and subtlety in it creates a springboard for so many discussions. It also serves as a Rorschach test to reveal the worldview of those watching the movie.
One core question forces its way into view after looking at reactions by viewers. A few ways to describe the issue:
Does anything exist beyond the limit of my vision?
Is there anything more to a story than what a camera can see? Beyond what people say when the camera is running?
Is there more to know about any issue than what a movie can cover in 102 minutes?
From reactions to the movie, many people believe the answer to those questions is a resounding “no.”
A movie about the oil boom in North Dakota, the impact in Williston, and how that played out in one church is now available at Amazon. I preordered a copy and it is downloading as I write.
Have been looking forward to seeing it a second time. I knew the story, particularly the ending, before seeing the movie the first time. Now I can watch the movie knowing how the movie presented the story.
Will have more to say about the movie after I watch it another time or two.
Wide open frontiers: energy production and one-man documentary production company.
Worlds far away I’ll never visit – Film production
One of the worlds I can only observe from a distance is making a feature documentary. I’ve been watching Jesse Moss as he produced and then marketed his documentary The Overnighters. That is a story of a Lutheran church in Williston that opened its doors to (predominantly) men working in the Bakken but arrived without a place to stay.
I’ll start to mention some of the coverage of the movie that is most helpful for me as I learn about that world.
Since I haven’t mentioned anything about the movie before, that may not make sense.
I’m looking forward to seeing the movie because I know something about Williston, the church involved, and the overnighter program.
One fascinating part of this story is that Mr. Moss found sources, conducted interviews, recorded video, and generally developed this documentary by himself. Post-production work involved a very small team, but until that time, he was the entire crew.
For this month, he is in a different town every few days appearing at theaters where the documentary is being aired.