A casting director and producer is throwing a net out into the Bakken oil patch, hoping to find some true-grit men and women willing to be stars of a Bakken-based reality show for a cable network.

Charisse Simonian, casting director and producer for Big Fish Casting, is looking for a half-dozen or so larger-than-life characters whose work and life in the Bakken would translate into a multi-week series.

Simonian is casting for Cheri Sundae Productions of Los Angeles on the premise that there’s a gold rush-type story to be told in North Dakota.

Ideally, Simonian will end up with four or five people involved in various aspects of the Bakken, anyone from a roughneck to the mom-and-pop owners of a diner, to an off-road semi trucker who left his family behind to make money in the oil fields.

“Everyone says it’s like the Wild West,” she said.

Simonian is looking for names, contact information, photos and a brief bio of people who would make interesting and vivid real-life characters, portraying themselves and the work they do.

If she likes what she sees initially, she’ll send out an application and set up a Skype interview.

A small video crew would be out in the oil patch as soon as January and February to shoot what’s called a “presentation reel” that gets pitched to the network. If the network likes what it sees, it plunks down the money for a set number of episodes, she said.

It’s at that point that the Bakken boomers would be contracted for a set amount of money per episode.

Before contacting her, people should make sure that the presence of a camera and video crew is something their employer would accept.

“Some companies have a zero-tolerance policy,” Simonian said.

She’s looking for people who have big, likeable and charismatic personalities and who are reasonably articulate. Introverts don’t need to apply, she said.

Simonian said she can’t yet say what networks are interested, but she did say, “The History and Discovery channels is where we would want to take this kind of stuff.”


This isn’t the first reality show pitched in the Bakken. One that was to feature “Boomtown Girls,” a series on some Williston sisters, was talked about last winter.

Williston economic development director Tom Rolfstad said he understands that venture hasn’t gone anywhere and was just one of several reality show contacts that have come into his office.

He said media interest in the Bakken overall remains high and the city has hosted more then 35 international media crews just this year.

In fact, he said, his office just fielded an inquiry from a French media outlet Monday, he said.

“People keep coming through pretty steady,” he said.

He’s a bit puzzled about the wild and crazy aspect of what film producers expect to find out there.

“If they do the reality of what we are, it’s not a sensational story, it’s just men working,” Rolfstad said. “I don’t know what the angle would be that’s incredible,” he said.

Rolfstad said it’s not unusual for a video crew to come in and want to get out on an oil rig that very day, something that’s increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to arrange.

“They think this is a movie set out here,” he said.

Anyone who thinks they’ve got the right stuff for reality television filmed from the Bakken can contact Simonian at [email protected].
Source: Missoulian

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