Documentary filmmakers looking for material from the community about the Trona mining industry in Southwest Wyoming


Genesis Alkali Photo

Wyo4News staff, [email protected]

February 20, 2024 — Filmmakers are doing research for a documentary on the Trona mining industry in Southwest Wyoming and are looking for help from people in this area to provide them with stories, photos, and videos of the Trona mining life here in Wyoming.

Mark Pedri is a documentary filmmaker from Rock Springs, Wyoming, who focuses on telling character-driven stories in unique ways. For example, for his last film, “Dear Sirs,” he cycled across Germany to retrace the route of his grandfather, who was a Prisoner of War in WWII. His films have played at international film festivals, on PBS, and on screening tours around the world.

Prior to making films, he managed the Episodic Storytelling program at Sundance Institute in Los Angeles. Through the process of making the film “Dear Sirs,” Pedri became associated with filmmaker Rebecca Ballard, who was working on the impact campaign for the film at the time.

Rebecca Ballard is based in Los Angeles but is originally from Wales in the UK, which also happens to be a big mining region. While she was working on “Dear Sirs” with Pedri, they connected over the mining areas where each of them grew up. Since then, they have wanted to work together on a film project focused on the mining industry.

They spoke with Wyoming PBS about possibly doing a documentary on mining, and Wyoming PBS said that they had been wanting to do a project focused specifically on the Trona mining industry. So, as soon as Ballard had a gap in her schedule, Pedri and Ballard jumped at the chance to work on the documentary.

Pedri and Ballard decided that the timing was now perfect to work on the documentary. So, Wyoming PBS said, “Let’s go into the research and development phase of the project, source some material from the public, and start talking to and interviewing people.”

Ballard, being from Wales, stated, “The topic of Trona mining was new to me and was completely fascinating. People in this area know much more about Trona mining, but compared to other mining, such as coal mining, trona mining is such an unexplored aspect of the mining industry.”

Ballard’s background in the film industry includes working last year as a producer on “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” for National Geographic, “Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper” for National Geographic Wild, and “Expedition X” for Discovery Channel, as well as Mark’s previous film, “Dear Sirs.”

Ballard says, “It has been so exciting and refreshing to focus a little bit more on history, especially with speaking with people from this area and working with individuals who are able to contribute personal photos, videos, etc. It has just been such rewarding research.”

Working on a film about Trona mining is personal to Pedri because his grandfather worked his whole life in the Trona mine. “So many people in Sweetwater County have either worked in the mines or are connected to someone who worked in the mines,” said Pedri, “But it’s an untold story outside of a few journalistic pieces, and there’s a gap in the narrative of it. What is the story of Trona and the people who dedicate their lives to the industry?”

So now Pedri and Ballard are looking to the people of this area who may have pieces of this Trona mining history in their houses and are willing to share with them any old photos, videos, films, recordings, or personal narratives that have been written about their family or their career in the Trona mines during this research and development phase. Whether it’s a snapshot from the early days, maps, photos, a video, or cherished memories of family members who worked in the industry, they want to hear from you!

“It can also be something that deals with the story of modern-day trona mining. Your contributions will be an invaluable part of a documentary project aimed at preserving the legacy and stories of our mining community for generations to come,” said Pedri.

Pedri and Ballard have already reached out to a lot of the museums and libraries in Rock Springs and Green River but are also reaching out to the community for information, stories, materials, or personal anecdotes that might not be in the traditional archives about the Trona mining industry that anyone is willing to contribute to the film. “The goal is to make something that I think the people in the community can be very proud to be a part of and have a voice in,” said Pedri.

The preferred way for people to send Pedri and Ballard information is to email it to [email protected] or contact him on Facebook at Also, listen when our very own Tom Ellis interviews Mark Pedri for our “Wyo4News Insights,” posted every Sunday morning on and our Facebook page.

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Date : 2024-02-20 20:46:33

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