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Film and TV

ASRC wins Emmy for ‘True North’ documentary

  • Author: Shady Grove Oliver, The Arctic Sounder
  • Updated: June 17
  • Published June 17

From humble beginnings to corporate powerhouse, the story of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. is one of colorful characters and challenging times. And last week, it was deemed worthy of an Emmy Award.

The corporation's television documentary entitled "True North, the story of ASRC" was recognized by the Northwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

"The origins of the documentary — shot and mastered in 4K resolution — were updating our cultural orientation and onboarding video, and we quickly realized we could turn this into a long-format documentary on the corporation," said Senior Director of Communications Ty Hardt, who also wrote, directed and produced the piece. It was co-produced by Tara Sweeney.

The film follows the organization's history from before the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and its inception in 1972 to the present day and features interviews with key players, including some of the original founders.

"In the fewer than 50 years since our incorporation, ASRC has grown into the largest locally-owned and operated business in Alaska, and that was no accident," wrote President and CEO Rex A. Rock Sr. in an announcement. "This production really highlights the decision-making process from our early leaders, based on their Iñupiaq values, that led to our success and I'm honored the documentary is being so well received. I'd also like to thank everyone who had a hand in putting this unique project together."

Hardt said the project took more than two years to complete and involved compiling a lot of historical footage from places like the Iñupiat Heritage Learning Center, the corporation's own archives and museums both in Alaska and outside.

"One of the interesting facets of this documentary is that we sat down with Oliver Leavitt and the early attorneys who were instrumental in the formation of ASRC — Bill Van Ness, who has since, unfortunately, passed away, Jim Wickwire, Alan Mintz and Steve Seward — and did a roundtable about the early decisions ASRC made. (It's) very interesting stuff, and it came from a perspective very few have seen."

They also spoke with Jacob Adams Sr. and other current and former leaders.

Hardt calls those personal interviews some of the "real gems" of the documentary. They lend a unique perspective and one that's getting rarer to hear as those who were there at the very start get older.

Along with speaking with those located in Utqiaġvik, the crew traveled to each community on the North Slope, Hardt said, in order to get footage from the corporation's entire coverage area.

Hardt and Sweeney worked with Brilliant Media Strategies and Stage 2 Studios to put together the final product. Both companies had previously worked on the corporation's television commercials, some of which had won an Emmy in 2015 and others which were nominated this year.

The film was first shown in 2017 and will be re-distributed to statewide audiences this summer before going online.

This story was originally published in The Arctic Sounder. It is republished here with permission. 

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