Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive December 2016 Show 1649 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1649

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1649

This week on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we look at the state’s growing film industry.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1649

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1649

For more information visit these links:

James Cullen Bressack

Oklahoma Film & Music

Retrospec Films

PleasureTown Show

WBEZ 91.5 Chicago

Basheerah Ahmad

Metro Technology Centers


Show Details

Show 1649: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: December 4, 2016



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Oklahoma’s film scene continues to grow. This fall, multiple projects were in production while two new feature films are headed to the state thanks in part to the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate program. Today, we begin our show with a behind the scenes look at movie making in Oklahoma.

James Cullen Bressack: I was really drawn to making this story because I’m always drawn to stories of people that are trying to hold themselves together while falling apart.

Rob: Courtney Maye takes us to northeastern Oklahoma to meet the young man behind some of the most creative commercials you will see on television.

Jason Burks: We’ve always been booked out probably three to six months, for like eight years. I don’t think very many people in business could even ever say that. And I think being in Oklahoma plays a part of that.

Rob: We meet the people behind a popular podcast based in an alternative Oklahoma.

Erin Kahoa: Who knew that hedonism plus Oklahoma was going to be the thing that started the fire.

Rob: And we end our day with some healthy holiday habits. Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by CareerTech – a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company, with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. Well, long gone are the days of Hollywood being the only place to make it in showbiz. Now, film crews are looking to the rest of the country to make the next big blockbuster, including right down the street from our studio in Stillwater. Much of that is thanks to a new initiative to grow the film industry in Oklahoma. Blane Singletary went on set to catch all the lights, cameras and action.

Blane Singletary: This once peaceful neighborhood in Stillwater was woken up after a violent overnight confrontation. But don’t worry. It’s all showbiz.

James Cullen Bressack: Well, tonight we’re shooting the finale of the movie. It’s the end of our first week.

Blane: That’s James Cullen Bressack, the director of the film “If Looks Could Kill” shot on location in Stillwater, Oklahoma. At the time we were invited on set, the film was being called “Stillwater” as well.

Bressack: Well, “Stillwater” is a story of a young woman who recently became a police officer and suspects her like best friend’s slash like love interest’s new girlfriend of being like a killer of sorts. I was really drawn to making this story because I’m always drawn to stories of people that are trying to hold themselves together while falling apart.

Blane: It’s this director’s vision that everything should be as organic as possible. The police cars are real, the uniforms are real, even the extras are Stillwater residents. This is not a soundstage in L.A.

Bressack: It was always gonna take place in Stillwater. You know as a filmmaker, I think you know, the most important thing is having authenticity in the stories that we tell, and so being able to tell that story in the town of Stillwater was important.

Blane: And authenticity is far from the only benefit that brought them here. Shooting on location also means working with a different blend of crew members. Laura Beth Love is the director of photography on set.

Laura Beth Love: So I think we’ve got about half of our camera and G&E departments, just about half are Oklahoma locals. And so far it’s been fantastic to have a blend of the two. It’s always great when you’re out on travel shows to have different people around and you get to see like different personalities, and like different skill sets and whatever. It’s very different, you know it’s a different pace from L.A., like, you know, the Hollywood, L.A. life.

Blane: And as for the actors, a change of scene can really help one get into character. Tomek Kosalka and Andrew Appleyard play two of the lead roles in the film.

Tomek Kosalka: I prefer being on location, personally. It really grounds me more towards the character. Here I am, I’m removed from all my comforts and my habits, all I have to do is focus on what I’ve got. I’ve got no other distractions.

Andrew Appleyard: You never know what’s really gonna happen. You get onto the set and get onto, get into the scene. You really discover a lot of different things being on set, and have an actual place to go to is an incredible experience.

Blane: But the major incentive, and one that some hope will attract even more films like this one to the state, is a competitive cash rebate plan. Tava Sofsky, director of the State Film and Music Office, told us why this is important.

Tava Sofsky: People usually think, “Why should the state offer this cash rebate program if it’s only going to affect the film community?” which is important, but there’s so much more to it.

Blane: Basically, if a film production shoots any scene in Oklahoma, has a budget of at least $50,000, and spends at least $25,000 of that in Oklahoma, they can apply for a cash rebate of 35 percent. That becomes 37 percent if they also hire a local musician for their soundtrack. And it’s not just the cast and crews who will benefit from this. For example, imagine if a TV series, like the next “Breaking Bad” or “Walking Dead” decided to film in the Sooner State.

Sofsky: That long-term job growth, for, you know, caterers and bakers and seamstresses and so forth. Anything that you love to do, style hair, apply makeup, there’s something for them. Films, television, commercials, music videos, all of that is helping grow our industry.

Blane: And with the extra experience crews are getting these days with more films coming through the state, things are already starting to pay off. Again, James Cullen Bressack.

Bressack: They have really competent crews and people that are, you know, it’s becoming a really great place to film movies. And I think a lot of productions are gonna start moving over here.

Blane: And Laura Beth Love says she can’t wait to have more locals on board.

Love: In L.A., everybody grew up with it, it’s not special necessarily, or it’s less special. It’s more of a business sometimes. But then when we go out to other places, there’s a different vibe that you get. People are a little more excited or just differently excited about it. And so that’s a cool vibe to have on set and to feed off of that and have that show up on screen.

Blane: And even though this film will wrap up shooting in Stillwater in just two weeks, it’s only the beginning for showbiz in the state.

Bressack: You know, I grew up watching movies, and, you know, watching movies is what inspired me to want to make movies. And hopefully, you know, seeing something made in Oklahoma will inspire people who live in Oklahoma to go out there and want to make movies, too. I think you’re gonna see a lot more productions coming to Oklahoma.

Rob McClendon: “If Looks Could Kill” is coming soon to DVD. We have more information on that on our website at Now, when we return we go inside Retrospec Films in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Female Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon” with Rob McClendon – weekly insight into your changing world.

Rob McClendon: At 32 years old, this next entrepreneur is one of the youngest film directors and cinematographers in the business. Jason Burks is the owner of Retrospec Films in Broken Arrow, a business that he dreamed up while he was still in high school. Joining us now to tell us more about Retrospec is our very own Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Well, Rob, for Burks it all started in his computer technology class at Broken Arrow high school. Because of this class he began competing in Business Professionals of America events and discovered he had a special talent. And at just 17 years old he started his own company.

Courtney Maye: A 17-year-old’s dream is now 12,000 square feet of reality. Jason Burks is the owner of Retrospec Films in Broken Arrow, a production company he created as a senior in high school.

Jason Burks: I spent the last hour of each school day, working on building a video company, and the idea was that someday this might be something realistic. It showed me a way that I could start developing a skill set and a career that didn’t end when I graduated high school. It was something that I might be able to turn into an actual job. And so it gave me a lot more purpose. And it gave me a passion. I was excited.

Courtney: Burks decided to forego college, and he immediately entered the workforce.

Burks: I was out meeting with clients, really low budget stuff, but I was learning how to understand marketing objectives, learn how to deal with customers, learn how to take notes. I was writing all the scripts. Then I’d go shoot everything. Then I’d bring it back and edit it. That’s what I do; it’s just at a much larger scale.

Courtney: As a kid straight out of high school, Burks had to grow up fast so potential clients would take him serious. He mastered the art of not only marketing his company, but marketing himself.

Burks: I’ve always tried to be so sharp that they would just have to go, “I don’t know, he knows a lot more about it than I do, so I’m gonna trust him.” And I think that would be the objective that I had to overcome or whatever it was, was sitting around and going how can I make sure that I’m so sharp, I’m so on time, I’m dressed professional and being as good at marketing and marketing concepts and sales concepts as I was at being a filmmaker.

Courtney: Fast forward 14 years, and Burks is no longer a one-man band. Producing more than 800 television commercials for regional and national brands, Retrospec Films is the largest production company of its kind in the Oklahoma.

Burks: There’s guys doing post-production around the clock editing, pulling in footage, ingesting it, figuring out the story. There’s guys that are doing visual effects. They’re going on compositing, coloring. We’ve got a producer who’s sitting around making phone calls, casting talent, looking at all that jazz, finding locations, taking photos. And then there’s me, who, I mostly, I’m writing, I’m shooting and directing. And then I feel like in the evenings I’m trying to figure out how to run the company.

Courtney: Burks’ company has taken him all over the world. He is competing with top companies in L.A. and New York. And he’s doing it with an Oklahoma cost of living.

Burks: This is my home. I know people here, and that means something to me. There’s been a lot of opportunity, there’s just opportunity here, and you don’t find that everywhere. We’ve generated talent in this area, and yet we’re not in this super high cost of living area of the country, and so that just kind of plays to it. I mean we have never, we have never not been booked ever. I mean we’ve always been booked out probably three to six months for like eight years. I don’t think very many people in business could even ever say that. And I think being in Oklahoma plays a part of that.

Courtney: But for Burks it’s more than a business. It’s an opportunity to tell a story that hasn’t been told and create content that generates emotion.

Burks: We say creating things worth watching, that’s what we always say. And that’s true. We also say things like telling stories the way they should be told. And so for us, the passion really has always been telling a story or a message in a way that’s engaging, that’s emotional, that’s exciting, that’s motivating, that causes some movement, causes some tears, causes some energy. That’s what it’s always been about.

(Nat break of reel).

Burks: I think I get inspired by other good work. I like to go to the movies and see stuff and let it challenge me. I like to see things that I don’t think we can do because then I want to figure out how we can do it.

Courtney Maye: Retrospec is continuously growing and adding job opportunities to the Tulsa area with multiple positions open now. And Burks said he is looking for special people who have the same motivation he has.

Rob McClendon: So I’m kind of curious, where does the name Retrospec come from?

Courtney: Well, Burks wanted something that had special meaning. And in film, anything that you are watching has been shot in the past. So that’s where retro came from. And then he says that the word, speck, in broadcasting, is often used for spec lighting which means harsh lighting. So he felt it was the perfect name for his production company.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob: Now, if you would like to hear first-hand Jason’s perspective on how he has gotten where he is, we do have his full presentation at this year’s annual CareerTech Summer Conference streaming on our website at

Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” healthy holiday habits. But first, the theater of the mind.

Rob McClendon: Well, in the world of broadcast, what was old is new again. The old radio serials that our parents and grandparents listened to are inspiring a new generation of artists. Our Austin Moore introduces us to an Oklahoman who created a podcast called “PleasureTown.”

Austin Moore: The first commercial radio station was licensed in 1920. Quiz shows, comedies, dramas, mysteries, westerns. There was something for everyone.

Radio Announcer: And that’s with a U.S. marshal and the smell of gun smoke.

Austin: This was the golden age of radio, when the medium dominated household entertainment. Then came television in the 1950s and radio was never the same.

Austin: Today, there is a resurgence in the art form. Podcasting, where audio files are recorded, but rather than being broadcast, they’re made available online, on demand. And that has given rise to a new age in oral storytelling.

Erin Kahoa: The barrier for entry is very minimal. You need to have a microphone, you need to have something that will record, and you need to have an internet connection. That’s it.

Austin: Oklahoma native Erin Kahoa is a podcaster and performance artist working in Chicago.

Kahoa: So, of course, there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of podcasts. Some of them very high quality. Some of them maybe not so much quality. And diverse topics. You know, just anywhere.

Austin: But Kahoa doesn’t produce his podcast just anywhere. He and co-producer Keith Ecker created an idea so bold, it was picked up by Chicago Public Radio’s WBEZ, the station that created “This American Life,” “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and the true life mystery podcast “Serial.” Their show, reminiscent of the golden era radio dramas, is called “PleasureTown.”

Nats PleasureTown: Around the turn of the last century, a group of folk built their dream, a town, where happiness was the main objective. But, as history has shown, death catches up to everyone. So stand ready and join us as we return to PleasureTown.

Kahoa: It is basically like the flip of the puritanical. People just, like, tried to live righteously, and our people are just trying to live on what makes them happy, and that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

PleasureTown: I don’t even know exactly when it happened. But I know one day I woke up here and I was all right not knowing what day it was. I was all right not knowing who would I meet today. I was alright not having everything planned out for me.

Austin: Kahoa drew on his childhood in western Oklahoma to find the perfect setting for the fictional PleasureTown.

Kahoa: It was the clean break that Oklahoma history offers. From the land run to the Dust Bowl. It was about a period of 50 years. So, you know, this genesis starting from, you know, undeveloped land and the tragedy that drove a lot of people away.

PleasureTown: For once in my life, I was something other than a burden. And that was enough to make me forsake the truth and my brother and give myself completely to the game.

Kahoa: My co-producer and I play the founders of the town. Keith plays Claude, and I play Cyrus.

Claude: Classic us, I weep at the sunset, and you shield your eyes from the sunrise.

Kahoa: Claude was born in Mississippi, the son of a slave owner and hated everything about that. A womanizing individual. If there is a lady and a drink, then you are going to find him right there.

Claude: One gulp of whiskey, and I don’t care what you have to say. Short-term fix to a long term problem.

Kahoa: Cyrus is very intellectual, very, will think before he speaks.

Cyrus: Life is a test, and I’m studying civilization. Someone needs to understand how to run a city.

Kahoa: And so these two gentlemen meet with combined idea of that life should be happiness. It’s written in the Declaration of Independence. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, like, well, let’s turn that up to 11 and see what happens.

Austin: This allows the show to explore modern issues through the safety glass of period fiction.

PleasureTown: If I don’t hope and fear, and, yes, dread for the future, then who will? Tell me that. Who will?

PleasureTown: You’ll get so weak, you’ll be helpless.

Kahoa: You know it’s like science fiction. That’s all science fiction is, is just a stained glass window of our current times. And just viewing it through a veil. So race, gender, ability, background. We try as best as we can to get a writer from that experience and then, of course, the modern issues are just going to come pouring out. Because that’s what’s on their mind. That’s what they are feeling. That’s what they are thinking. That’s what they dealt with that morning.

PleasureTown: I guess I always knew she’d leave me, somewhere deep down in whatever that place is where women can sense bad things coming. Bad things that could feel like empty if empty had a feeling. I always had that when I was around Floren.

Austin: Make no mistake. This is not casual listening. It’s not bubble gum for your ears. “PleasureTown” is immersive, crafted prose. It’s both art and commentary. But for Kahoa, it has also turned into an opportunity for a wandering Okie to leave an imprint on the world.

Kahoa: “PleasureTown” was supposed to be two shows and done. And here we are. Who knew that hedonism plus Oklahoma was going to be the thing that started the fire?

Music from “PleasureTown.”

Kahoa: Just to know that you were not only consuming the art, but your fingerprint is on it. That’s best case scenario for me.

Rob McClendon: So, Austin, where do they get the ideas for their shows?

Austin Moore: Well, the producers set the broad strokes and then pass out the individual stories to a group of writers. But this group really encourages the audience to participate as well. They’ve used them for naming landmarks, like say, a river, but they also allow them to submit story ideas and occasionally, actually produce that story. They do that because this is a group of people who came from the theater. They are used to hearing that immediate live feedback, that knowing if they’re doing well or not. And so between that interaction and social media, that’s how they gauge the direction of the show.

Rob: Hmm, hmm. I have to also ask, where did you get that old black and white footage at the front of the story?

Austin: Well, that is some archive footage out of NBC from the late ’40s. It’s a real hoot, and it’s available on our website if anyone wants to check it out.

Rob: All right, thank you so much, Austin. Now, if you’d also like to see more on the art of sound, just head over to our website at, and look for the “Technology Behind the Sound” story under our value added section.

Female Announcer: “Horizon” is at your fingertips – join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to catch the segments you may have missed and our latest new content as it happens.

Rob McClendon: Well, with all the holiday goodies that surround us this time of year, it’s easy to pack on a few pounds. But my next guests say you can avoid holiday weight gain and holiday stress. Basheerah Ahmad is a celebrity wellness expert while Valerie McMurray is the wellness coordinator at Metro Technology Center, and they both join me now in studio. Well, what’s the problem, Basheerah, that we eat on Thanksgiving, we eat on Christmas, how can you pack on that many pounds?

Basheerah Ahmad: Well, you know, Rob, it would be a great thing if we just ate on Thanksgiving and Christmas. But what we do is we eat for the entire six weeks. As someone said earlier in a presentation, you eat Christmas Eve, you eat Thanksgiving eve. You’re lucky if you only do that. Most of us have leftovers, and we forget it’s just about celebrating on the two holidays. But go back to your normal healthy way of eating. If you only binge on two days out of the year, you’re not going to pack on pounds. The body can absorb that, metabolize it, and you’re good. So it’s about moderation as with anything in life, moderation during the holidays will keep that weight off.

Rob: I know for those of here that work in an office setting and that don’t really have particularly good impulse controls, there’s a lot of food around. How do you avoid it?

Basheerah: You know, it’s near impossible to be perfect in those types of settings, and I tell people, don’t try. When you shoot for perfection, you’re always going to fall short, and you’ll end up probably doing the opposite, which is binging. So set little goals for yourself. Say OK, if we know they do a lot of chocolate, I’m only going to have one piece of something, not I’m gonna go back every little break and pick from the table again. And when you self-impose goals on yourself, our mind is set up to meet those goals. But if you just go in with a blank sheet, you’re going to eat until your little heart is content, and a lot of times it doesn’t get content.

Rob: Uh huh, and it is a very busy season. How do you work and exercise?

Basheerah: Well, I tell people, you have to schedule it the same way with most things during the holiday. For example, you have family coming in, you have all these parties and different things that you have to do. Schedule your workouts in a time frame that’s actually doable. Stop reaching for unrealistic goals that you know you’re not going to achieve and then you beat yourself up for it afterwards. Be nice to you by setting things that you can achieve. It’s good for your mind as well as good for your body.

Rob: Yeah, which really brings me to you, Valerie, and that’s holiday stress, the holiday blues, all those things that we associate with the holidays that are somehow negative.

Valerie McMurray: It is, and a lot of times that we’ve lost loved ones, and we think about the money we, maybe we don’t have. And should I buy a gift, should I not buy a gift. We just put all that stress on ourselves, and as we know, stress is not good for our bodies. The hypertension, the diabetes, it really tears down our bodies. So we suggest to try to get ahead of these holidays by setting goals as Basheerah already said. Set some goals and decide that, you know, I’m only going to spend a certain amount of money on gifts. Or I’m gonna plan ahead and before I go in that grocery store, I’m gonna make a list and decide that I’m going to purchase exactly what I want to purchase, rather than just going in the store and just buying everything that you see. And learning to say no. Because I know so many times during the holidays, we get invited to a lot of parties. We get invited to a lot of activities. And we get really stressed out, and stress is horrible for the bodies. So we really need to make sure that we just kind of stay focused and not let the holidays get us off of our game. And just plan, like Basheerah said, even for the exercise we have to plan mentally as well what it is that we want to do and how we want to handle the holidays, so.

Basheerah: And another thing, Robert, is I, well, Rob, I always tell people, be nice to yourself. If you, at the end of the day, beginning of the day, it’s you with you. Be kind to yourself. If you’re not up to doing something, honor yourself and say no. You have that right, and I don’t feel like we feel we can honor ourselves as human beings. Honor yourself by living a healthy life, but also honor yourself by keeping yourself away from negative influences that you know tear you down through stress and then other triggers.

Rob: Uh huh, and I know I also want you to take me through an in-office workout. And we will have that on our website at We’ll see Basheerah make me sweat a bit. Ladies thank you so much.

Ladies: Thank you, thank you for having us.

Rob McClendon: Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we look at the value of adding value to everything from raw commodities to our workforce.

We came in here and built this facility so that the producers would have a place to add a value to their milk.

Rob: On Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Rob McClendon: Well, thanks for including us as a part of your day. I’m Rob McClendon. Hope to see you back here next week.