Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Black Gold Boom airs May 18

Some Native American tribes have banned fracking on tribal lands. With vast deposits of oil underneath its borders, Three Affiliated Tribes is at a crossroads. Should the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in western North Dakota drill for black gold or outlaw oil exploration on its land? Tribal member Marty Young Bear worries about environmental effects. Meanwhile, local leaders rush to form a tribal-owned oil company with the motto “Sovereignty by the Barrel.” Watch “Black Gold Boom,” a television documentary from producer/director Todd Melby and Prairie Public. “Black Gold Boom” airs at 9:30 pm CT/8:30 pm MT on Monday, May 18, on Prairie Public in North Dakota. The documentary airs on other PBS stations later this year.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sounds of Silents

Silent film may be a thing of the past, but scoring music to flickering screen classics isn't. This documentary focuses on three Minneapolis bands who are intrigued, perhaps even obsessed, by silents.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Night with the Projectionist

A night inside the projectionist's room at the Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Other Boomtown Hamm

Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm has made a name for himself in the Bakken. As CEO of Continental Resources, his company is the biggest oil producer in western North Dakota. But he’s not the only Hamm in town. A man named Phil Hamm lived in Williston before the boom came to town. He stills lives there today. In this interview I produced for Prairie Public and Marketplace, it’s clear he’s got something to say about the changes the boom has brought.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stuffed Shirts v. Blue Collars

Peo­ple who hate it, call it “pol­lu­tion.” Peo­ple who love it, call it “rollin’ coal.” We’re talk­ing about the plumes of black smoke that come pour­ing out of some diesel pick­ups. These pickup truck own­ers are retro­fitting their rigs to allow for un­burnt diesel fuel to spew from a tailpipe or ver­ti­cal stack dur­ing a fast ac­cel­er­a­tion. When smoke pours from a pipe or stack, the un­burnt diesel is thick and black. An in­ter­view with Mark Pyatt of Killer Diesel Per­for­mance about the young men and women who love to roll coal in oil coun­try.

This story aired on Prairie Public and Marketplace.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

'Redneck Innovation is the Best Innovation'

People like to see stuff get wrecked. Which is why demolition derbies are popular attractions at county fairs. A county fair in the Midwest is offering a new twist on this staple of Americana. Instead of a demo derby featuring old cars, one county fair in Minnesota is sponsoring a smash-up derby featuring riding lawn mowers. Here's my story, which aired on NPR's Only a Game, on a lawnmower demo derby.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Update: Black Gold Boom and Reuters

In recent months, I've worked on an upcoming PBS television documentary and transmedia project on North Dakota's oil boom. That work is due to be completed later this year. More information is here. In the meantime, I've completed a couple of short features on people affected by the oil boom, including a story of an Arkansas razorback who loves making ribs for roughnecks and a profile of a man who enjoys the solitude of Twin Buttes, North Dakota, a town on the eastern edge of the boom.

Both stories aired on Prairie Public. The razorback making ribs story also aired on Marketplace.

I've also worked as an occasional freelancer for Reuters.

Recent stories:
Minnesota man convicted of killing unarmed teens
Murder trial of Minnesota man who killed teens goes to jury
One child dies, four others injured after car crashes into Minnesota pond
In remote field, North Dakota oil boom suffers first big spill