The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia – Movie Night Preview
Monday, May 10, 2010 8:00pm ET, over at FDL.
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
Chat with Director, Julien Nitzberg, about his new film. Hosted by Lisa Derrick.
Tucked deeply in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains, the White family lives an existence more like something out of the Wild West than modern-day rural America. The legendary family is known as much for their disturbing and excessive ways as they are for their famous mountain tap dancing legacy, which includes living legend Jesco White (star of the PBS documentary Dancing Outlaw). From MTV Studios and executive producers Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine (Jackass), this edgy and often hilarious look into a dying breed of American outcasts exposes the powerful forces of corruption, poverty, and West Virginia’s environmentally and culturally devastating coal mining culture.
Julien Nitzberg follows the Whites over the course of one year to document their tangled history, intelligently weaving a jaw-dropping portrait of a family that will live on in infamy. From stabbings and attempted murder to drug trafficking and a child custody battle, the Whites run the gamut of ‘drama.’ Nitzberg brings humor and levity to the White’s shocking lifestyle, but he is quick to ground us in their cyclical, brutal reality.
Julien Nitzberg met the Whites in 1989 while directing The Wild World of Hasil Adkins, a documentary about Boone County’s infamous punk progenitor and rockabilly pioneer. Adkins introduced Nitzberg to Mamie White, who in turn invited Nitzberg to her birthday party. It was there that Mamie introduced Nitzberg to her brother, and he went on to film the first video footage of Jesco. This footage became the basis for Dancing Outlaw on which he served as Associate Producer. After moving to California, Nitzberg directed the feature film Bury Me in Kern County; which Variety raved about, calling the film “an impressively assured and pro debut.” As a screenwriter, Nitzberg has written for HBO, SHOWTIME, TNT, VH1 and NBC. He is currently writing a script for HBO based on the strange life of the civil rights activist and professional wrestler Sputnik Monroe. Last year he wrote and directed the musical The Beastly Bombing or a Terrible Tale of Terrorists Tamed by the Tangles of True Love, which won the LA Weekly Theater Musical of the Year Award and was dubbed by the Huffington Post: “the first great work of comedy to emerge from the post-9/11 little planet of horrors.” (http://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/archive/The_Wild_and_Wonderful_Whites_of_West_Virginia.html)
Storm Taylor, Producer and Assistant Director for The Wild and Wonderful Whites; Storm is about what you’d expect from a person born and raised in a small town at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains. The only exception is his die-hard love and personal representation of the rural attributes that others may overlook in our modern day society. He adheres to the small town code that hard work and handshakes still mean something. Before attending the University of Tennessee, Storm befriended another Tennessean with the same outlaw spirit…Johnny Knoxville. Storm had some small stints producing shows for MTV’s Jackass and Wildboyz. After some overseas travel with the Jackass crew, Storm got the bug…the TV bug. He then combined redneck antics, festivals, and travel in Turner South’s EMMY award winning reality show ‘Yokel’. Since its initial airing, Storm has continued his passion with the creation of ‘The Dirt Poor Comedy Tour’. Not since The Marshall Tucker Band toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd has there been so much anticipation for some true redneck representation. For now, he continues on down the highways and byways…stopping at Honky Tonks, resting at ‘mom and pop’ motels, and looking for some local moonshine along the way. Storm’s relationship with Johnny Knoxville led to his introduction with Julien Nitzburg (producer for The Dancing Outlaw). Storm had been working with the White family over the course of a few years (and by working … he means drinking, random acts of violence, lighting fires, shooting guns, and occasional mayhem). Storm and Julien decided to combine their efforts and travel to Boone County and filmed the basis for The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. After 2 years of filming/editing and almost 600 hours of footage, the film is now ready for the public to consume. Being described as ‘provocatively disturbing’ and a ‘cinematic reach around’, the film is sure to stir some emotion. Storm’s companies (Son Of a Bob Productions and Monkey Function) continue working, and looking for the next amazing project.