Planned Oil Series to Focus on Independents

A producer with Original Productions, a production company in Burbank, Calif., known for its television films, will be in Odessa and Midland on Monday to talk with oil and gas representatives about a series highlighting the industry.

Michael Gara said he will arrive Monday afternoon and be in the Odessa area at least until Thursday. He said he plans to return to the Odessa area with a five-person crew in the spring of 2007 for about a month to film the series.

Gara, in a telephone interview from Burbank, Calif., said Original Productions is planning a series about independent oil producers.

"The face of the oil industry that is portrayed is always Big Oil," Gara said, "but we want to focus on the small oil producers, the independent guys who are working in a difficult business.

"They make it work because they are strong-willed entrepreneurs, and they do not get deterred easily," he said.

Gara said he would like to receive e-mail notices from any oil and gas industry representatives in the Odessa area interested in working with him on the series. Those notices may be sent to him at

Although it has a working title of "Black Gold," Gara said that probably will not be the final title of the series.

According to information from Original Productions, the new series will be set in the "world of crude oil drilling."

The information stated: "We'll meet the hard-living drill crews and the new generation of wildcatters who employ them. The American oil industry is going through a boom, but the big oil companies have all gone offshore and international, leaving domestic exploration to independents hoping to make their fortunes on U.S. soil in places like North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Texas.

"Living on-site with the roughnecks, drillers and toolpushers, we'll follow them through grueling 12-hour towers on the rig, and follow them as they live and party on their time off."

The series, according to the information, "is about life on the edge. The audience will be there as we celebrateIthe work-hard, play-hard subculture that keeps the oilfields running."

Gara, who will be series producer, said he anticipates the tone of the series to not be too different from that of "Deadliest Catch," the series about the dangers of crab fishing in the Bering Sea for which Original Productions received an Emmy nomination. That series airs on the Discovery Channel.

Gara said the story he wants to tell is that of the independent oil producer who works against difficult odds but still achieves success.

He said the story told in "Deadliest Catch" was about people in a dangerous business that did the job and achieved success.

"It's a tough job, but they really have to do that job," Gara said. "It's not for soft guys. It's for tough guys and working on a rig is the same sort of thing."

Original Productions was founded in 1999 in Burbank, Calif. by Thom Beers, who had been a successful producer and executive for Turner Broadcasting and Paramount Television.

The company has produced such signature shows as "Monster Garage," "Monster House," "Biker Build-Off," "The Messengers," "Fugitive Strike Force" and "Ballroom Bootcamp."

Earlier this year, the company received special recognition as one of the most notable production companies in Realscreen magazine's Global 100, said Lynn Weiss, also with Original Productions.

Many of the programs air on the Discovery Channel or The Learning Channel.

In addition to its production company, Original Productions also encompasses MAX Post, a post-production facility; the music publishing and soundtrack label Amygdala Music; and an in-house merchandising and product placementAdivision called O'Merch.

Original Productions is represented by Sean Perry at Endeavor Talent Agency and Bob Wise at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.

Copyright (c) 2006, Odessa American. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.