Jacob Young (documentarian)

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Jacob Young
Born1952 (age 66–67)
Film editor
Known forDocumentary films

Jacob Young (born 1952) is an American screenwriter, cinematographer, film editor, and filmmaker best known for creating documentary films that explore eccentric people living in his native Appalachia.[1][2][3]


Young was a producer at WNPB-TV in Morgantown, West Virginia, when he conceived Appalachian Junkumentary (1986), a film eventually purchased by over 90 PBS stations and winning a 1988 PBS Special Achievement Award.[2] It became one of 15 U.S. television shows later selected for an international screening conference.[4][5] Young was also producer for two seasons of the documentary series Different Drummer, broadcast by the BBC and Public TV.[2] His film Dancing Outlaw (1992) received both a 1992 Emmy Award and a 1993 American Film Institute Award for 'Best Documentary.[6] In 1998 Young revealed that he was considering creating a feature film using Dancing Outlaw star Jesco White.[7][8]


  • Saturday Night in Babylon (1983) — A look at reggae music and culture through the eyes of Jamaican migrant workers, originally broadcast in 1983 on the television series Vandalia Sampler.[9]
  • Appalachian Junkumentary (1987) — In which Appalachian junkyard owners explain their business, their hopes and their dreams. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[4][10]
  • Hammer on the Slammer (1987) — The tale of Donald Bordenkircher, who reestablished several West Virginia state prisons that were operating on the verge of disaster. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[11]
  • Amazing Delores (1988) — The biograph of Delores Boyd, an unusual grandmother who writes outrageous songs and fronts a rock and roll band. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[12]
  • Point Man For God (1989) — About Bernard Coffindaffer, a rich industrialist who mounts a crusade to cover the American landscape with crosses. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[13][14][15]
  • Glitch in the System (1989) — Elmer Fike, former owner and plant manager of a small chemical company in Nitro, West Virginia, and an outspoken opponent of government regulations lead him into battle with the Environmental Protection Agency. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[16]
  • Doctor No? (1990) — A frightening portrait of Dr. William Pierce, the author of The Turner Diaries and one of the country's preeminent white supremacists. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[17]
  • Mister D...Period (1991) — About James E. "Sug" Davis, an artist in Charleston, West Virginia, who is a self-taught man capable of painting or drawing anything that comes into his mind. But his real specialty is creating things out of found materials like a stick, a button or a piece of wood. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[18]
  • Dancing Outlaw (1992) — Portrait of Jesco White, a man struggling to live up to his father's legacy as the finest dancer in the Appalachian Mountains. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[19]
  • Fleabag : the Frank Veltrie story (1992) — Although operating at a substantial loss, a man refuses to close an old hotel that houses the helpless and destitute. Originally broadcast on the PBS television series Different Drummer.[20]
  • Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood (1994) — Jesco, the Dancing Outlaw, becomes so famous that he is summoned to Hollywood to appear on Roseanne.[6][21]
  • Holy Cow, Swami! (1996) — Examines the life of the powerful Hare Krishna Kirtanananda Swami and uncovers murder, kidnapping, and extensive fraud.[22]
  • American Breakdown (1997) — Made for commercial broadcast, this was a pilot for a reality-based series featuring interviews of interesting people stranded by the highway in urban and rural Tennessee, originally premiered 10/26/98 on the television show Split screen.[23]
  • The Object - the Urim and Thummim (2007)[2][24] — "Kentuckian Todd Walker found what he believes is a Biblical artifact in a Nashville thrift store that grants him visions, and now wants to convince others."[25]


Oxford American referred to Young's film Dancing Outlaw as "now-legendary", and wrote that it was "one of the most bizarre, upsetting, and ultimately, when looked at from a certain angle, inspiring documentaries to have emerged from the South, or from anywhere, in recent memory."[26]

In writing of a 1999 retrospective of Young's works, which included Dancing Outlaw, Dancing Outlaw 2, "and a sizable chunk of Young's documentary oeuvre", the Austin American-Statesman wrote "Young's specialty is fixing his camera on the quirky human" and called his work "life-is-nuttier-than-fiction films".[27]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ Lewis, Anne (10 May 1999). "The King of the Hillbillies". Austin Chronicle. Austin, Texas. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Jacob Young at Appalachian Film Festival". Appalachian Film Festival. April 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  3. ^ Macor, Alison (12 May 1999). "Filmmaker studies the unique in people". Austin American-Statesman. Austin, Texas. p. F6. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Junk-Filled Program Is Anything But Trash". Lexington Herald-Leader. Lexington, Kentucky. 29 June 1987. p. C8. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  5. ^ Barker, Allison (27 August 1993). "Jesco White avoids the devil with his fancy footwork". Reading Eagle / Reading Times. Reading, Pennsylvania. p. A8. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Lewis, Anne (10 May 1999). "Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood". Austin Chronicle. Austin, Texas. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  7. ^ "'Dancing Outlaw' may get second movie". The Gadsden Times. Gadsden, Alabama. 26 April 1998. p. C6. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  8. ^ "Jacob Young will bring back dancing Elvis". Wilmington Morning Star. Wilmington, North Carolina. 25 April 1998. p. A2. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  9. ^ Jacob Young; Sandy Fallon (1983). Saturday Night in Babylon (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WWVU-TV. OCLC 53343924.
  10. ^ Jacob Young (1987). Appalachian Junkumentary (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: Countrified Films and WNPB-TV. OCLC 148143903.
  11. ^ Jacob Young (1987). Hammer on the Slammer (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 53010469.
  12. ^ Jacob Young (1988). Amazing Delores (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 53009834.
  13. ^ "Bernard Coffindaffer, Evangelist, Dies at 68". New York Times. 12 October 1993. Obituaries. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  14. ^ "Evangelist who built roadside crosses dies". Lakeland Ledger. Lakeland, Florida. 11 October 1993. p. 4B. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  15. ^ Jacob Young (1989). Point Man For God (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 32861968.
  16. ^ Jacob Young (1989). Glitch in the System (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 148143890.
  17. ^ Jacob Young (1990). Doctor No? (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 53006604.
  18. ^ Jacob Young (1989). Mister D...Period (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 32861915.
  19. ^ Jacob Young (1991). Dancing Outlaw (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 47079100.
  20. ^ Jacob Young (1991). Fleabag : the Frank Veltrie story (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 53008997.
  21. ^ Jacob Young (1994). Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 35020974.
  22. ^ Jacob Young (1996). Holy Cow, Swami! (VHS). Morgantown, W. Va.: WNPB-TV. OCLC 244008231.
  23. ^ Jacob Young; Dub Cornett (26 October 1998). American Breakdown (VHS). OCLC 53344093.
  24. ^ "Film Notes: Film Kitchen find". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 8 June 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  25. ^ O'Driscoll, Bill (7 June 2007). "A man's obsession with a 'sacred' object is the latest focus for 'Dancing Outlaw' filmmaker Jacob Young." Pittsburgh City Paper (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  26. ^ Sullivan, John Jeremiah (2002). "13 Essential Southern Documentaries". Oxford American. At Home Media Group. Winter 2002 (Southern Movie Issue). ISSN 1074-4525. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  27. ^ Garcia, Chris (23 July 1999). "'Outlaw' dances back to the Alamo for a week". Austin American-Statesman. Austin, Texas. p. E3. Retrieved 11 April 2010.

External links[edit]