Born in 1987 in Los Angeles to actors Timothy Hutton and Debra Winger, Noah Hutton spent his childhood on and around film sets and developed a passion for filmmaking at an early age. After attending the Fieldston School in Bronx, NY, Hutton entered Wesleyan University as a freshman in 2005. In the summer of 2007, he traveled to Uganda with the Jacob Burns Film Center’s World Crew program and co-directed a documentary film entitled Shooting for Peace, which tracked three pressing issues in that country: child soldiers, water treatment, and HIV/AIDS orphans. Before directing Crude Independence, Noah directed the narrative 16 mm short Knives, produced by the Wesleyan Film Cooperative. In 2010 he directed More To Live For, a chronicle of three extraordinary men suffering from leukemia whose lives depend on finding the perfect bone marrow match. In 2012 he directed King for Two Days, a concert documentary about jazz drummer Dave King.
Crude Independence marked Noah Hutton’s directorial debut at age 21. Hutton first learned of the oil boom in North Dakota from a New York Times article published in January of 2008. He boarded a flight two days later for North Dakota and spent a week shooting location footage and talking to locals. After putting together a proposal and raising funds all spring, he set off, along with his producer and stepbrother Sam Howard, and co-producer Sara Kendall, to spend the summer filming Crude Independence. The film was an official selection at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival and won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2009 Oxford Film Festival. Says a 2009 SXSW Review, “In a day and age when every documentary that releases has some sort of slant, it is refreshing to see one borne only out of its subjects. I know that with any editing process there is an argument being made. But Crude Independence manages to straddle that line better than any film in recent memory.”
Hutton’s second directorial project is a documentary feature entitled More To Live For, produced by Love Hope Strength, a global cancer foundation. It is the story of three lives, all shaken by cancer and dependent upon the one vital bone marrow match that could save them. These individuals are similar only in their fate and prolific accomplishments: Michael Brecker, 15-time Grammy winner, one of the greatest tenor saxophonists of all time; James Chippendale, entertainment executive and founder of The Love Hope Strength foundation, the largest music-centric cancer charity in the world; and Seun Adebiyi, a young Nigerian training to become the first ever Nigerian winter Olympic athlete in any sport. Their unrelated paths become connected in a desperate fight for survival and a singular mission: to bring awareness about bone marrow donation to the millions of people who could save a life today. A film of tragedy and loss, strength, and hope, More to Live For presents the stories of three individuals facing life and death and their commitment to making a difference. These deeply personal accounts of confronting illness will inspire hope and action, leaving the viewer empowered to become part of the cure. The hope is to use the film as a vehicle to sign up new potential donors to the bone marrow registry.
For the next ten years, Hutton will be filming footage for a documentary feature about The Blue Brain Project. Henry Markram, scientist and project director, is building an entire brain, neuron by neuron, in a massive virtual simulation on IBM supercomputers. It is the most ambitious project in the fields of neuroscience and artificial intelligence ever undertaken—and in ten years Hutton will have documented the process of building a complete human brain. During November 2014, Brain City, a journey through the vast avenues of the human brain, will be broadcast on Times Square’s billboards from 11:57 to midnight each night as part of the Midnight Moment series. Visit The Beautiful Brain website for his podcasts, essays, and reviews on the art and science of the human mind.
In addition to his Blue Brain project, Hutton also has a series of videos called Brain Basics put out by Scientific American. The first, released March 2014, is titled How We Retrieve Memories.
Noah Hutton is the director of Crude Independence, a documentary about the North Dakota oil boom; More to Live For, the story of three lives, all shaken by cancer and dependent upon the one vital bone marrow match that could save them; and King for Two Days, a concert documentary about jazz drummer Dave King. For the next ten years, Hutton will be filming footage for a documentary feature about The Blue Brain Project.
KING FOR TWO DAYS (Documentary, 2012)
Enter the world of drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus), “Better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post-60s jazz and indie rock,” (The New York Times). King for Two Days documents a two-night concert held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN, celebrating the music of Dave King and featuring performances by five of the bands he drums in (The Bad Plus, Happy Apple, Buffalo Collision, Golden Valley Is Now, and The Dave King Trucking Company). Through rehearsals, interviews, and concert excerpts featuring some of the most prolific improvisers around today, a world emerges where the concept of the band is held above the need for individual showmanship.
CRUDE INDEPENDENCE (Documentary, 2009)
Crude Independence is a documentary film about the heartland in the process of transplanting itself, and the new heart is pumping oil. In 2006, the United States Geological Survey estimated there to be more than 200 billion barrels of crude oil resting in a previously unreachable formation beneath western North Dakota. With the advent of new drilling technologies, oil companies from far and wide descended on small towns across the state with men and machinery in tow. Director Noah Hutton takes us to the town of Stanley (population 1,300), sitting atop the largest oil discovery in the history of the North American continent, and captures the change wrought by the unprecedented boom in the years since the discovery. Through revealing interviews and breathtaking imagery of the northern plains, Crude Independence is a rumination on the future of small town America: a tale of change at the hands of the global energy market and America’s unyielding thirst for oil. This directorial debut from twenty-one-year-old Noah Hutton is at once a riveting journey through the timeline of a modern day gold rush and a rumination on the present state and the uncertain future of small town America.
We first meet the citizens of Stanley—the townsfolk, store owners, county officials, and lifelong farmers. They have lived here for decades, thinking not of what lies beneath the land but of what can be reaped from its surface. Some have bought more land to plant more crops, selling off that same lands’ mineral rights in the process—the rights to the oil beneath, a treasure most have neither imagined nor planned.
New horizontal drilling technology allows the oil men to find what they’re looking for; and soon enough it happens. Strange metallic creatures begin to pop up here and there, teetering up and down as they drain this black gold from its millennia-old stockpile in the shale crust known as the Bakken Formation. We meet John Warberg, a lifelong farmer who owns the same section of land his grandparents first homesteaded over a century ago. And in a boisterous group interview behind the local bar, we meet the oil workers who have been forced to stay at the Stanley Motel, then in run-down trailers as the motel fills up as a result of the housing shortage in this rural area. The county sheriff tells us about the three signs of this oil boom: “First your motel fills up, then your bars, and lastly, your jails.”
Crude Independence puts this modern day oil boom in endearing and captivating human terms while still managing to explore the larger issues of energy dependence, political alignment, and soaring gas prices. Framed by the July 4th parade down Stanley’s Main Street, Crude Independence is an American saga of a small town facing the descent of a global market and all the accompanied change. Hutton’s film frames a parallel of two parades—that of oil and that of independence—and in doing so has created a modern American tale of how a resource so far below can so dramatically affect life on the surface.
MORE TO LIVE FOR (Documentary, 2010)
A truly powerful, emotional, and ultimately uplifting film, More To Live For chronicles the lives of three extraordinary men suffering from leukemia, whose lives depend on finding the perfect bone marrow match. Take an inspirational journey with Seun Adebiyi, a US Winter Olympic hopeful in the harrowing sport of Skeleton Racing, fifteen-time Grammy Award winner Michael Brecker, who conquered substance abuse only to face another life-altering trial; and James Chippendale, a successful entrepreneur who sees leukemia as a new challenge, morphing from party boy into philanthropist and founder of the Love Hope and Strength Foundation. Their unrelated paths become connected in a desperate fight for survival and a singular mission: to bring awareness about bone marrow donation to the millions of people who could save a life today. A film of tragedy and loss, strength and hope, More to Live For presents the stories of three individuals facing life and death and their commitment to making a difference. These deeply personal accounts of confronting illness will inspire hope and action, leaving the viewer empowered to become part of the cure.
The heartland is getting a transplant, and its new heart is pumping oil. Director Noah Hutton takes us to the town of Stanley, North Dakota (population 1,300), sitting atop the largest oil discovery in the history of the North American continent. Through revealing interviews and breathtaking imagery of the northern plains, Crude Independence is a rumination on the future of small town America—tale of change at the hands of the global energy market and America’s unyielding thirst for oil.
“I was drawn to the small town nature of the story and the fact that people had lived there for their whole lives with no idea that something like this would happen—and then how the discovery of a resource so far below the ground has dramatically affected life on the surface. It was a personal, human story the whole time for me, timely and socially interesting.” —Noah Hutton
MORE TO LIVE FOR
Seun Adebiyi, a 26-year-old Nigerian-born Yale Law School graduate, is training for the Winter Olympics in Skeleton—and has recently been diagnosed with leukemia. He splits his time between training sessions in Salt Lake City and chemotherapy sessions in New York City, and is running bone marrow donor drives in the US and in Nigeria to try to find a genetic match who will save his life and allow him to compete. The story is set against the stories of two other leukemia patients, told in flashback: one who successfully found a match and one who did not. Hutton will be following Seun to Salt Lake City and Nigeria as he looks for a match and trains for the Olympics.
A documentary about director Noah Hutton’s 10-year film-in-the-making that will chronicle the progress of The Blue Brain Project, Henry Markram’s attempt to reverse-engineer a human brain. Enjoy the piece and let us know what you think. Bluebrain-Year 1 previews the 10-year project. The film is being produced by Noah Hutton’s production company, Couple 3 Films.
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