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SXSW: Oklahoma teenage pranksters star in short film


from left Jim Blanchard and Tyson Meade - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • from left Jim Blanchard and Tyson Meade

Growing up in Anytown, Oklahoma, those hours spent outside of school are prime for mischief among teenage boys. In Bartlesville in the early 1980s, a group of adolescent males decided to pass the time on the telephone, making prank calls, the recordings of which went viral long before that word entered everyday vocabulary.

Oklahoma-natives Bradley Beesley and Ben Steinbauer launched a successful Kickstarter campaign last year to produce a short documentary on these pranks called Calls to Okies, and the film was selected by SXSW for its short films showing.

The mastermind behind the prank phone calls was Park Grubbs, whose blacked-out face is shown at the beginning of the film saying he wants no part in recounting his hijinks that helped spark a national love affair with prank calls. The film centers on those friends of "Park" who look back fondly at their pot-hazed memories.

In the film, Beesley actually tracks down two women who were the victims of a Park Grubbs' phone call. Neither seemed to harbor any hard feeling and both relished the chance to listen to the tape cassette recordings.

Oklahoma Gazette editor-in-chief Jennifer Chancellor wrote about the film’s origins last year in an article you can read here. Saturday afternoon Calls to Okies opened a set of short films at SXSW to much praise from the audience, especially when several of the actual phone calls were replayed, complete with graphic illustrations.


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