Filmmakers documenting changes in the Bakken

2014-05-23T00:15:00Z Filmmakers documenting changes in the Bakken The Billings Gazette

Four young filmmakers are documenting the cultural and economic changes happening in Eastern Montana because of the employment surge from the Bakken oil field.

Their project — the High Plains Heritage Project — aims to capture the story unfolding in the area of the Bakken through a multimedia project.

“Tales of the oil patch reach Billings like rumors of an exotic, far-off destination, stories of rags to riches, expansive housing developments, rising crime, infrastructure bursting at the seams, and all-time low unemployment,” their press release reads.

Jessica Jane Hart, a former Billings woman now living north of San Francisco, has been brainstorming for more than a year how to chronicle the changes that are happening in Eastern Montana. Her mother grew up in Judith Gap, and Hart said she time there as a kid so she has a special interest in the changes that are happening there.

“I started thinking about the unique lifestyle that people are living out there,” Hart said in a phone interview.

Other partners on the project are Pete Tolton and Stan Parker, of Billings, and Tarek Fouda, a radio journalist based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The crew is trying to raise money through Kickstarter to complete the project, which includes streaming interview stories and video at, and producing a documentary film by fall. By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, they had raised $4,330 of their $11,750 goal through the Kickstarter campaign, which expires on June 5. If they do not reach their goal by the deadline, they receive no funding through Kickstarter.

The four project members will spend three weeks filming next month.

“It’s so much more than a documentary,” Parker said. “Everybody out there has a story, and we want our audience to feel like they’re meeting all of these people, too.”

Preserving history is another part of the mission, and backers who donate funds via Kickstarter have the opportunity to help with that mission. For every DVD copy pre-sold with the campaign, one copy will also be donated to a school, library, museum or historical society in the region.

For more information about the Kickstarter campaign, go to

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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