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Triangulation in “Running on Fumes in North Dakota”

January 30, 2014 by   

Every since I saw the localore project Black Gold Boom I have been pretty interested in the stories coming out of North Dakota about people working in the oil fields there. This piece was especially exciting because I find the experiences of women in this environment particularly telling about how “wild” the area is as it navigates the transition from small town to oil boom town.

The visuals and her interview help situate the viewer. She expains that she has nothing, while we see a landscape that is barren. It was supposed the land of promise, but nothing about swirling snow or roads clogged with tractor trailers looks promising. The emptiness means that there is room to build something, but what are we building? Unfortunately for Jonnie, this new frontier is occupied by anxiety and loneliness, which is what a lot of people experience, but because she is a woman she experiences it in a different way. In a land full of men, there are no girlfriends and the men only want sex. Her little dog is her only companion.

What I appreciated a lot about this piece was the way it confirmed the reporting. Though Jonnie is our only character, we still get a triangulation of sorts through the tv reports and radio announcers confirming/backing up/supporting our character’s experiences. Her anxieties are confirmed because other women have gone missing as noted through the new reports.

Another interesting technique is the use of titling to move the narrative along, and also hold some of the reveals. In one instance we learn that her employer moved her into a trailer. After a beat the next line says that it didn’t have running water. While this feels like cheating sometimes, it seems like it can still be used effectively when you need to move quickly. 

1 Comment »

  1. says:

    Wow, that is a really moving video. I agree that the visuals and interview really do help situate the character. I wonder if they made a conscious decision to film this in the winter. The bleak winter colors and scenes intensify the mood of the piece a lot.

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