A version…

I have spent the last couple weeks investing in a new script about the oilfield. Reading articles, watching youtube videos, trying to immerse myself in all things Bakken.

All these interesting stories from journalists across the country who came to the Williston area in search of the Wild West finding exactly what they were looking for because they were looking for it.

The skeptic in me looks at some of these journalists like the writer in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ who follows the gun slingers and tells a version of their reality. And maybe that’s what lead me hear because all these articles that tell a particular story are versions of the writer’s reality.

It is the wild west for the writer maybe more then the actual man or woman working in North Dakota’s western half. You can fly or drive in on your bosses dime and write whatever you want about whoever you want. Not only that, you need to write something interesting and provocative while being lavished with attention because one thing an oilfield worker doesn’t mind, is talking shop. It’s never a pissing contest with a journalist because in the story you tell — your piss always travels the farthest…

Now the guy overhearing the story you told might disagree and that’s where the streams cross and alcohol combined with all sorts of depravation and stress play out in physical therapy.

I consider myself an honest guy, but I might embellish a bit for good journalism. I might tell a particular journalist about rigging down in -50 wind chills (true story), but I won’t mention cramming into the doghouse in front of the heater a few times every hour to warm up. For a journalist and for myself it is more wild west to stop at ‘RIGGING DOWN IN -50 WIND CHILLS’ and I feel more rugged for having the power to stop the story there and the journalist feels more rugged for talking to a roughneck over a beer in some wild west saloon and using similar words to describe the setting.

Make no mistake, the job is not easy and I say that with complete brevity because I spent 3 years working in the oilfields of North Dakota. 1 year building tank batteries as a Roustabout and 2 years as a roughneck on a drilling rig.

And that’s another reason I’m here now writing this down because a lot of these stories don’t resonate at all with me. I never went to a strip club, drank mostly with my co-workers in the rig runner outside the man camp or on a Saturday night over a UFC fight or a game of pool when I was a Roustabout. Never touched a recreational substance and found my bed more enticing then any other extra curricular activity. I’m a father of three and my rig runner was a 2000 Dodge Caravan.

I’m also 34 years old so when I broke out in the oilfield I was a 30 year old married father of three who had just shot a feature film. I can’t imagine being a single 18-24 year old, male or female, having the work ethic to maintain a constant and stressful work schedule while also trying to maintain the social energy of youth (from my collegiate days) in a veritable all men’s university where you might have started in your car and worked up to the dorms (man camp, buddy’s couch, 5th wheel, etc…).

Anyway, this is a selfish post as I try to wittle through the Bakken in order to find my black gold of a screenplay getting further away from the fact that there are many different versions of the same story and I need to tell mine with maybe just a little wild in it…

sunny on the rig

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