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Associated Press, Published November 11 2010

Filmmaker scopes out ND for possible documentary

WILLISTON, N.D. — A British documentary filmmaker is searching for sympathetic characters to tell the story of the influx of people from around the nation to Williston.

Jason Massot is a London-based filmmaker with more than 15 years of independent documentary experience under his belt.

"It's a long and involved process, just trying to find the right, engaging kind of individuals," said Massot.

Massot, who arrived recently, is planning on being in Williston for three weeks.

He's working on getting material to create a trailer to shop his film idea to a broadcaster for funding. THE IDEA

Massot found out about the oil activity and strong economic climate in Williston during a brief stay in Wyoming this summer.

"I was quite interested in the kind of impact on the recession," said Massot.

One of his recent films, Road To Las Vegas, followed a family that left Alaska for Las Vegas to search for a better life. Massot followed the family over a four-year period, which had an unhappy ending as the national recession hit.

After completing Road To Las Vegas, Massot said he considered doing a follow-up film relating to the recession.

"I was looking for an angle a bit more off-beat, or positive, I suppose," said Massot.

The idea Massot has for his documentary is not the boom itself, which he said has obviously gotten a lot of press.

His film is to showcase its impact on the lives of those who have moved to Williston for work and a fresh start.

"It reminded me of what happened during the Great Depression," said Massot.

During the Great Depression there was a mass migration west of job seekers and families from states impacted by drought, known as the Dust Bowl Migration.

Massot said its interesting seeing so many people from states such as California and Michigan coming to western North Dakota seeking a second chance to start over.

"It's a very American way, you just hit the road and find something better. In Europe everyone just stays where they are; it's completely unthinkable in Europe," said Massot.

Massot said so far he's mainly been meeting people and getting some shots of the town.

He also has spent time placing fliers in doors of residents at RV Parks and mobile home courts around town. Massot hopes to get some responses from people with interesting stories.

Finding the right individuals to properly tell the story will be key, he said.

"I make observational films. I go and hang around with people and sit in the corner filming, and try to make the story that way," said Massot.

Massot said so far he's been able to meet some individuals that could be good subjects for the film. He said after his three weeks in Williston, he'll see what he has and determine if he'll have a full-length project to pursue.

If there is, he'll put together a short trailer to shop to networks for funding.

Massot has previously worked on projects that have aired on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Discovery Health and the BBC.

Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.