Filmmakers Discuss Experience Filming ‘Leith, ND’ + Interactions With White Supremacist Craig Cobb [AUDIO, VIDEO]
Craig Cobb's attempted takeover of Leith, ND caught the attention of two Brooklyn filmmakers who spent nearly a week in the small town shooting a documentary titled 'Leith, ND' detailing known white supremacist's attempt at turning the tiny town into a 'white enclave'. In an exclusive interview, Mike Nichols and Chris Walker of No Weather Productions sat down with us to discuss their project and the controversy surrounding Leith.
The guys described the situation as 'unreal' and started following Craig Cobb's story when they saw an article run in the New York Times. It wasn't until October of 2013 upon reading about another family of white supremacists moving to Leith that they decided to pursue the project.
Prior to their arrival, Nichols and Walker made contact with most of the townspeople, including Craig Cobb, to inform them of their trip. From October 31-November 6, they filmed from sunup to sundown, shooting as much film as possible to objectively capture each side of the story.
While most of the town reacted favorably to their presence, they did encounter a "strange interaction" with the girlfriend of one of Cobb's associates. "When we first drove into town, we started filming a sign that Cobb had posted on one of his properties that had a swastika that said 'Village of the Damned'," said Nichols. "[Kynan] Dutton's girlfriend drove by and got out of her minivan and started filming us with her cell phone. I think she was just very much on edge and suspected that we were media that was trying to portray them in a negative light. Once we explained that we were independent filmmakers and there to get both sides of the story, she put her phone down. At first it was a little bit tense, but we hashed that out."
They described their interactions with Craig Cobb and Kynan Dutton as "very polite" and "civil". While they weren't able to sit down with Cobb during their time in Leith (he was on the East Coast doing a talk show and subsequently arrested for his armed patrol), they did speak with the known white supremacist before they arrived in North Dakota. "I think Cobb has a lot of experience talking to the media, so he was honestly polite and nice to us on the phone," said Nichols. "We're obviously not white supremacists, we're coming in and trying to tell an objective story as best we can and get both sides."
Although the takeover is reportedly over, the guys have every intention on coming back to Leith to finish the story and speak with Cobb, whether it's covering his trail or talking with him in jail. "While we were filming in November we were wondering what the end of the story would be, so I think that we can sort of predict what the ending will be," Nichols explained. "I know that the town is relieved that it ended the way it has and for us as filmmakers it's a good end in sight for us to finish."
Nichols and Walker gave glowing compliments when speaking of their experience in Leith. "Personally, I felt welcomed on both sides, and I wasn't expecting that. I think that helped us capture what we did capture to really tell the story in the most journalistically-sound way," said Walker. Nichols echoed those sentiments, "We really felt so incredibly welcomed by the people of Leith, and they're just the nicest people," he said. "I hope that people can start to think of Leith for things other than the headlines that have been going through the press lately."
The guys are aiming for a completion date of June for the project. For more information, check out their website or become a fan of No Weather Productions on Facebook, where they'll be updating the progress of the film.
Listen to the interview in its entirety and take a look at the trailer for 'Leith, ND' below.