About this project
Who is Park Grubbs?
“Yeah, I’m callin’ about that canoe you got for sale” - a seemingly innocent statement that progresses into - “I want to bathe your entire family.” This is just an inkling of what Park Grubbs has in store.
In the early 1980s, before Jerky Boys, Jack Ass, Crank Yankers, Punk’d and all the other modern envelope pushing pranksters, Park Grubbs, a trio of Okie teens imitating old geezers, was there at the forefront conducting strange backwoods experiments with a little help from a landline. Flippantly tossed out of a car window by one of the pranksters, this cassette tape, containing dozens of these prank-call recordings, was then immediately recovered roadside.
This cassette tape was copied and copied again making its way across the USA molding the local vernacular among punk rockers, slackers and art school dropouts alike. These legendary calls gained infamy, garnering fans such as The Flaming Lips, Daniel Clowes (Ghostworld, Art School Confidential), and Peter Bagge (Hate).
Although these prank calls were often risqué, there was something innocent but daring about the caller that kept the unsuspecting on the phone. For several minutes, both prankster and pranked could escape from the tedium and unending sameness of small town life on the Oklahoma prairie.
With reenactments and interviews, including ones with the pranksters and the pranked -- the calls will come to life in this one-of a-kind documentary by these Okie filmmakers.
Why the world needs a Park Grubbs Documentary
the early 1990's, these hillbilly phone calls captured the imagination of my
friends and me. To say that we were obsessed with these calls is an
understatement. If we weren't listening to the calls themselves, we were
imitating the calls or quoting the lines throughout the day.
The 'Park Grubbs' speak became a common vernacular that bonded our group of art school kids. Before the age of YouTube, if you wanted to find out if someone was like-minded and would understand your sense of humor, you popped in the Park Grubbs tape -- they either became obsessed or repulsed.
20-years later, I'm still consumed by the calls; the bizarre catch phrases and strange tones used by these teenage geezers is omnipresent in my life. Was this simply high school hi-jinx, a backwoods art installation or something more deep-rooted and personal?
I've started to stitch together my own narrative of what these Park Grubbs guys are like in real life. Now, for better or worse, it's time to track down these pranksters and dispel the myth that is Park Grubbs."
– Bradley Beesley –
Director Bradley Beesley
Bradley Beesley thrives on documenting the strange, nearly forgotten recesses of Americana. His career directing documentaries began by drinking moonshine with R.L. Burnside in 1999. Beesley has since directed 8 feature-length films. His documentaries include Hill Stomp Hollar (SXSW), Okie Noodling (PBS), Summercamp! (Sundance), The Creek Runs Red (POV), Okie Noodling II (PBS) and Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo (HBO)--although disparate in subject, his films have a knack for receiving both critical acclaim and dedicated cult followings.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Beesley is also known for having a close working relationship with the Oklahoma-based band The Flaming Lips. In addition to directing Fearless Freaks (Sundance Channel), an intimate documentary covering 15 years of their career, he co-directed the sci-fi frolic Christmas on Mars (WBR) with the band's lead singer, Wayne Coyne.
Between film projects, Beesley turns his eye to the small screen, directing a number of television series including Paranormal State (A&E) and Storm Chasers (Discovery Channel). He is also the creator and executive producer of Mudcats (History Channel), which focuses on the noodlers he brought to the public eye over a decade ago.
Beesley is a frequent contributor at festivals, universities and museums - that include recent stops at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The IFC Film Center, The Northwest Film Forum, The SXSW Film Festival, Whitman College and Edinboro University.
Beesley resides in Austin, Texas, where he spends his free time wading chest-deep through murky rivers and avoiding scary carnival rides. He is also the driving force behind the annual Okie Noodling Festival in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.
Director Ben Steinbauer
Ben Steinbauer is a writer, director and producer who made his feature directing debut with the award-winning comedy documentary, Winnebago Man, which played film festivals around the world before being released theatrically in 2010. Michael Moore called it “One of the funniest documentaries ever made!” and Roger Ebert named it one of his favorite documentaries of 2010.
Steinbauer's short films have won prizes at film festivals including SXSW, CineVegas and Hot Docs and aired nationally on PBS, MTV and Nickelodeon. He has directed music videos for bands like The Heartless Bastards, Spanish Gold and Rainbows Are Free.
He was named by Texas Monthly as one of Texas’ directors to watch, holds a master’s degree from the University of Texas and is the recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Award for Filmmaking. Co-owner of the Austin based, Emmy award-winning production company, The Bear, Steinbauer has directed commercials for clients including Popeyes, Ford, Disney Channel and Funny Or Die.
Raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Steinbauer played varsity football for the Edmond Memorial Bulldogs. He now lives in Austin, Texas, where Steinbauer spends his time obsessing over record stores and over-priced coffee, and avoiding UT football fans. Although he loves prank phone calls -- he would prefer that you text him.
Producer Tyson Meade
SPIN, AV Club, Brooklyn Vegan and OUT magazines again recently acknowledged Meade as the godfather of alternative rock music, and Meade has been credited with influencing everyone from Nirvana to Smashing Pumpkins. Meade is also a painter, writer, teacher and disc jockey.
Through his time as principle singer and songwriter for pioneering alt-rock bands Defenestration and Chainsaw Kittens, Meade earned the reputation as one of rock’s true individuals, and in the alternative music scene of the late '80s and early '90s, his quirky, tuneful, three-octave warble and skewed lyrical styling resonated with listeners well beyond the decline of the genre and into the new millennium.
The money raised will help cover the costs of actually finishing the movie. This includes filming, traveling costs, editing, legal fees, licensing, music, sound mixing, festival entry fees and more in getting the film and bonus rewards to you. To break it down, the more we can raise the better and faster we can finish the film – and if we far exceed our goal we’ll be able to take the film even further, to audiences around America and the world. With your help, we’ll be able to complete this fascinating movie and share it with you, too.
Steven Drozd -- composer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter for The Flaming Lips -- will bring his polka-band childhood turned psychedelic rocker influence to the documentary. Alt-rock godfather Tyson Meade, who grew up in Bartlesville and is a Park Grubbs historian himself, will bring his critically-acclaimed singing and songwriting to the musical brew of this documentary as well.
Reward Highlight - Park Grubbs T-shirt designed by Jason Stout
This Park Grubbs t-shirt can be had by itself with a $50 pledge, or as a package that also includes a Calls to Okies DVD and digital downloads of the infamous prank calls for a pledge of $100. Illustrator, designer, animator, musician, and self-professed worrier, orange juice drinker, and compulsive phone checker, Jason Stout, who is The Austin Chronicles longtime Art Director, designed the Park Grubbs T-shirt.
In the News!
Check out some of the news coverage regarding Calls to Okies:
Risks and challenges
While we have a timeline in place, as a film made with friends and favors, setting a firm date for completing a documentary is no easy feat - however with your help we will get there much sooner, and we are aiming for April 2015.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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