Storm chasing has become a widespread activity over the years, involving amateur weather observers, photographers, and meteorologists. A vast history exists with humble roots, personal adventure, scientific achievement, and tragedy.
David Hoadley, the “first” known storm chaser in modern history, displaying a newspaper article from 1957.
Beginning with one individual in 1956, and expanding to thousands by 2015, the culture fosters a fascination with extremes in atmospheric conditions. This project is a ongoing anthology-style documentary series, chronicling the past six-decades of storm chasing culture by preserving the stories, imagery, science, and art of its many unique participants. The initial film production (Volume One, released in mid-2016) examines how storm chasing grew from relative obscurity, to the phenomenon it has become today. A visual history lesson is the result, presented as accurately as possible. In launching this endeavor, a Kickstarter campaign successfully raised $9,262.64 ($10,200 gross) on Friday, July 25, 2014 for travel and remaining production costs to gather interviews throughout the United States and Canada. A secondary Go-Fund-Me campaign in July 2015 raised additional funds for fuel and travel to complete interviews throughout the Western United States.
Per March 2016, the Storm Chasing Anthology: Volume One, has been completed!
Six-decades of *select* benchmark moments in storm chasing culture and severe weather research history have been condensed into a initial 67-minute production, aka “Volume One.” Early 2016 screenings in Oklahoma and Texas, along with private feedback from select viewers have made the program into what it presently is. Future productions and/or a formal publication with the mass material archived remain in the works.
DVD and Blu Ray copies were distributed to participants, backers at certain levels, family, and friends who assisted in the production process over summer 2016. With hundreds of hours of personal stories and histories recorded, 112 to date, the expanded version of ‘Anthology’ remains a work in progress. The entire process, travel and independent production was both a humbling, educational experience.
Thank you to all who assisted in making this project a reality!
To bring this documentary series to life, a required change from full-time employment status to that of an independent producer was necessary to allow for travel flexibility and focus. That time-frame (2014-2016) was both a blessing and incredible struggle at times. “Homeless” and freewheeling for essentially a year, I worked out of the homes of family, friends and a personal vehicle. A true adventure in both life and independent film-making!
Kickstarter, Go-Fund-Me, and private donation funds were utilized for the gathering of interviews. All post production costs were entirely out-of-pocket, and aided through significant support by immediate family and friends. This experience showcased the values of team work and collaboration, both of which are so vital to a high quality production. The trials, errors and success revealed during the 2014-2016 timeframe truly created a once in a lifetime experience, journalistically and personally, all of which I remain sincerely grateful for.
About the Producer
Blake Naftel is a journalist with a love for filmmaking, coupled with 20 years of storied experiences documenting extreme weather. The project initially began in the early 2000’s as part of a combined lifelong interest in meteorology, history and severe weather. It was especially magnified in light of the tragic loss of three accomplished storm chasers on May 31, 2013; who also were personal friends. Professionally, Naftel’s background in the broadcast media industry has ranged from work as a weather producer, photojournalist, reporter, radio host, editor, and technician since 1998. A Kalamazoo, Michigan native, Naftel achieved a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Geography/GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and Communications from Western Michigan University in 2006. Three Reel Films™, the independent multimedia company associated with “Anthology” and future projects, was established in November 2014.
Public Screenings, 2016:
The final screening of The Storm Chasing Anthology was Saturday, September 10, 2016 during the National Weather Association’s Weather.Ready Fest in Norfolk, Virginia. No further showings are planned as the complete film (volume one) is available online.
The premiere screening transpired on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at the University of Oklahoma/National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma. This was made entirely possible by the University of Oklahoma Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association.
Previously, two test screenings transpired this year, the first on January 24, 2016 at the Norman, Oklahoma ChaserCon. The second took shape on March 5, 2016 in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region of Colleyville during the Texas Severe Storms Association conference. Both events featured a early-cuts of the film, which was re-edited into a 67-minute, open-ended version.
2016 & Beyond:
Originally the current film was intended as a six-part series, not a condensed sampling of six-decades and benchmark moments of storm chasing history. Future volumes, online segments or a physical publication may be produced in time, but as this is entirely an independent undertaking, expanding it remains a gradual process.
Further updates will be posted on stormchasinghistory.net and on the project’s Facebook page.
Thank you for your continued interest, and support!
– Blake Naftel