The “Bakken Boom Towns” TV crew spent last week shooting footage in Williston, N.D. and Sidney.
“Being here has exceeded my expectations,” Jeff Stecyk, COO of Partners in Motion based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said. “There are compelling people here.”
The crew consisted of Stecyk, who worked on the Emmy award winning documentary “13 Seconds: The Kent State Shootings,” along with director Steve Allen of Partners in Motion and Michael Watts and Peter Hartogs of Landmark Media Productions based in Washington, D.C.
“People here have been very welcoming,” Hartogs said. “It’s a very hardworking community.” Hartogs and Stecyk noted one woman they filmed even baked them a pie, a token of “small town hospitality.”
The show aims to be character driven and to capture the effects of the Bakken oil boom through the eyes of four to six main characters.
“We’re not here to fabricate anything, we’re not here to tell a story that doesn’t exist,” Hartogs said.
The crew worked an average of 18 hours a day and has more than 25 hours of footage. The footage will be primarily condensed into a four to six minute demo for broadcasters and could also be used for an episode or two.
Mayor Bret Smelser and Richland County Justice Court Judge Greg Mohr were among some of the Sidney residents filmed. The film crew also rode along with the Fairview Police Department and stopped in a local hair salon, where there is a six-week wait for an appointment.
The VFW charity event was also filmed to showcase the community.
Their last day of filming was Saturday. At the end of the day they went to the Ranger Lounge, where they had also filmed the night before. Watts noticed the cameras affected some people initially, mainly curiosity about what they were doing, but residents got used to it quickly and acted natural.
“We don’t want to instigate anything. We want to tell stories as best we can and not intrude,” said Watts, who previously worked as a CNN supervising producer on “Larry King Live.”
One difference the crew observed in Sidney was how tight knit the community is, which was a bit different from Williston and something they hope to capture in their show.
“People in Sidney are doing it on their own terms more than Williston,” Hartogs said. “Sidney maintains its identity no matter what comes with the boom.”
In October, Hartogs and Stecyk will head to the south of France for MIPCOM, the television equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival. At MIPCOM, they will pitch the “Bakken Boom Towns” series demo to TV networks. There already has been significant interest in the series.
If a network picks it up, they predict they will be back in the spring time to resume filming the series.
“The whole trip was a highlight. We enjoy producing the show,” Hartogs said. “It will really showcase the region.”
Casting for “Bakken Boom Towns” is an on-going process. Area residents interested in being on the series can email a description of themselves to Jeff Stecyk at firstname.lastname@example.org.