Production company plans documentary on life in the Quiet Zone

To the outside world, living without cell service would be considered a nightmare. For Green Bank residents, it’s a fact of everyday life living in the National Radio Quiet Zone.

The NRQZ was established in 1958 by the Federal Communications Commission to protect the radio telescopes at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory facility in Green Bank and at the U.S. Navy’s Information Operations Command in Sugar Grove.

While the Quiet Zone is approximately 13,000 square miles and includes counties in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, the restrictions are higher in the 10 mile radius of the NRAO and Navy Base.

People who live inside the 10 mile radius of either facility must follow strict rules concerning WiFi signals, microwaves and even electric blankets.

In a way to give the outside world a peak at life inside the Quiet Zone, Los Angeles based production company Pitch 5 Production is researching the area and speaking to residents in hopes of making a documentary.

Pitch 5 producer Kristen Rinella said the plan is to create a sample video of interviews to send to networks in hopes one network will pick up the story for production.

“We’re reaching out to people and doing our research – kind of seeing what we can make of it,” Rinella said. “We have to pitch this documentary to networks to see if somebody is going to buy this thing, to see if it’s really going to air. Right now, we’re still in the casting and development phase.”

If the story is bought by a network, Pitch 5 crews will come to Green Bank to film the documentary, which could be a full-length film, a docu-series or a seasoned show.

“That’s up to the network,” Rinella said. “They might be just interested in doing just a one-time thing, or it could be a three-part series. They could break it up. We could film with you guys for a couple weeks and then they would show it over three parts. I think initially, they were thinking maybe we could do a longer series. It really ultimately depends on who the buyer is.”

So far, Rinella has interviewed several Green Bank residents, ranging in ages, reasons why they live in the area and views of the Quiet Zone.

While Green Bank has recently become a safe haven for individuals who suffer from electromagnetic sensitivity, the documentary crew does not plan to focus on just that aspect.

“We just genuinely want to hear what life is like in this town,” Rinella said. “There’s a lot of good. There are days where I want to throw my cellphone out the window. I would find it refreshing. But, then on the other hand, maybe you do feel a little left behind and you aren’t getting to connect as much. It’s presenting both sides of the story and the in-between, too.”

Pitch 5 Productions has produced The Savage Line for the National Geographic Channel, and Bearing Sea Gold and Beard Sea Gold Under the Ice for the Discovery Channel.

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