As a young girl growing up in North Dakota, I wanted nothing more than to escape the brutal cold and live elsewhere. Now after spending years outside my native state, I feel compelled to return and share the stories of the dramatic changes occurring there. In 2012, with the advances in technology of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, once rural areas and small towns boomed. Desperate wanderers flocked from all areas of the country for the opportunity to start over. Some of them found success; others left even more desperate than they came. Sundogs is an exploration of the effects of this boom phenomenon on two of these struggling transplants: a mother and child.
Sundogs’ story, characters, and visual style are dictated by the environment of western North Dakota. The stark and unforgiving landscape reflects the bleakness of the situations the young mother faces. The characters are weather-beaten, their faces and attitudes worn from the harsh climate. The dialogue is simple and sparse. A documentary shooting style with handheld camera and natural lighting will increase the sense of real time and allow for spontaneous, genuine moments. Also, by utilizing real people and locations of North Dakota, I hope to convey a highly authentic vision of the area.
The characters Alex and Jenny, a single mother and daughter, are based on my sister, Sarah, and her daughter, Serenity. Feisty and free-spirited, Alex and Jenny leave their small town of Casselton, North Dakota to find something better in the west. However, reaching the so-called “boom town” of Williston, they discover that the abundant times are over, and are reduced to stealing for survival.