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” true 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 aspires to produce a 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 story will examine how storm chasing grew from relative obscurity, to the phenomenon it has become today. A visual history lesson will be the result, presented as accurately as possible. To assist in accomplishing this project, a Kickstarter campaign successfully raised $9,262.64 ($10,200 gross) on Friday, July 25, 2014 for travel and remaining production costs to gather the missing elements to the film (the interviews). A secondary, minimal Go-Fund-Me campaign in July 2015 raised 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 benchmark moments in storm chasing culture and severe weather research history have been condensed into a 67-minute production. Early screenings in Oklahoma and Texas, along with private feedback from select viewers have made the program into what it presently is. I should note, beyond some minor changes in the films’ significant make-up of historical material, this will be the lone production for the time being. Unfortunately, until a few legal clearances for material are finalized, the documentary will not be offered for public sale until further notice. Non-for-profit DVD copies will be distributed to participants, backers at certain levels, family, and friends whom assisted in the production process. Beyond that, I haven’t the financial means to make this production continue than a side project. There are hours of stories, 112 to be exact, including personal accounts, and one-of-a-kind historical material. Perhaps in time it will expand into what was originally envisioned, but like all goods things, it takes drive, time and financial backing to make it happen. I’ve been humbled by the entire process, and am quite thankful the project reached the point it has over the last two years. Thank you to everyone who assisted in making this project a reality!
Originally, to bring this documentary series to life, a change in my full-time employment status to that of an independent producer was required to cover living expenses for the duration of the project. For two years that has been both a blessing and incredible struggle. I’ve essentially gone without a true home for the past year, working out of the homes of friends, family, and occasionally my personal vehicle. It’s been a true adventure in film-making! With initial Kickstarter, Go-Fund-Me, and private donation funds completely exhausted, all of which were utilized for the gathering of interviews, all post production costs were entirely out-of-pocket, and aided through significant support from immediate family and friends. This experience really made me appreciate the value of team work and collaboration, both of which are so vital to a high quality production. Many limits exist with undertaking virtually every aspect independently, and there would be no way I would ever undertake a project of this magnitude, solo, again. This was a one-of-a-kind, lifetime experience, and I’m grateful for each lesson that came along with it.
About the Producer
My name is Blake Naftel, a visual journalist with a love for filmmaking, coupled with an eighteen-year background in documenting extreme weather. This project began in 2003 as part of a lifelong passion for severe weather and continues to inspire me, especially in light of the tragic loss of three accomplished storm chasers in 2013. Professionally, my background in the broadcast media industry has ranged from work as a photojournalist, reporter, weather producer, radio host, editor, and technician since 1998. A Kalamazoo, Michigan native; academically I hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography/GIS and Communications from Western Michigan University. Three Reel Films™, the independent multimedia company associated with “Anthology” and future projects, was established in November 2014.
Public Screenings, 2016:
A final screening of The Storm Chasing Anthology will be on Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 2 p.m. during the National Weather Association’s Weather.Ready Fest in Norfolk, Virginia. The event is free and open to the public.
The premiere screening successfully transpired on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma. This was made 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.
Originally, this was intended as a six-part series, not a condensed film packed full of six-decades and benchmark moments. As noted previously, future “volumes” or segments may be produced in time, but as this is entirely an independent undertaking, there are no plans to officially expand it as rapidly as previously envisioned.
Thank you for your continued interest, and support!
– Blake Naftel, Filmmaker/Producer