Mike Morningstar: Here's to the Working Man

Mike Morningstar is a singer/songwriter born and raised in West Virginia. Born October 7, 1947, Mike began his musical career in 1964 when at the age of 16 he joined a predominately black rhythm & blues soul band. Four years later, Mike was drafted and sent to Vietnam where he was exposed to Agent Orange and other traumas that resulted in PTSD. Consequently Mike’s musical career as well as his personal life changed dramatically. His marriage ended as well as his career playing with large bands. Mike became a loner, both in his personal life and in his musical career where he performed mostly as a solo artist. It took Mike over 20 years to get to the point where he could describe his Vietnam experience in song with the haunting Neu Ba Den. Other songs describe the plight of the working Man and the environmental destruction coal mining brought to his beloved West Virginia such as Buffalo Creek and Coal Country Blues. The film tells the story of Mike’s loss of his musically inclined son in a fatal car accident and Mike’s struggle to overcome his mental and physical challenges from the tragic episode of Vietnam. “Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man” is comprised of interviews with Mike and his wife of 27 years, Donna Morningstar as well as 14 of Mike’s songs, the majority of which are performed live.

  • Richard Anderson
    Director
    The Sudden Pianist, What About Auburn?
  • Richard Anderson, Rowland Hill, Marcie Hill
    Producer
    What About Auburn?
  • Mike Morningstar
    Key Cast
    "as himself"
  • Studio Unknown
    Audio re-recording
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 6 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 7, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Worker's Unite Film Festival
    New York, NY
    United States
    May 6, 2017
    Honorable Mention Best Documentary
  • Bare Bones Film Festival
    Muskogee, OK
    United States
    April 28, 2018
  • West Virginia International Film Festival
    Charleston, WV
    United States
    October 26, 2016
Distribution Information
  • Vimeo VOD
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Video on Demand
Director Biography - Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is a long time Baltimore based commercial photographer, turned filmmaker. His photo work for businesses and various institutions have been published in a wide variety of books, magazines, corporate and institutional publications, advertisements, and websites.

Richard has now turned his attention to making films. His first documentary completed in 2012, "The Sudden Pianist", is the fascinating story of Michael Hersch, contemporary composer/musician. Richard’s second film “Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man” finished in 2018 is the story of Mike Morningstar, a West Virginia singer/songwriter and Vietnam veteran. “What About Auburn?” continues the West Virginia theme, a theme that Richard very much enjoys.

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Director Statement

Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man

Director’s Statement:

I had never met Mike Morningstar before the first day of filming, Saturday, December 12, 2015. I had heard about him from my friends, Rowland & Marcie Hill, who became the co-producers of this film. They were worried that Mike’s musical legacy would become lost unless I agreed to interview Mike and try to record some of his songs and stories. My intention was to do something fairly simple and short, but that was before I met him. Mike and I seemed to hit it off from the very beginning and as the stories and music poured out, I kept the cameras going and a movie began to take shape in my mind. After filming for 3 days, I realized that I would need to come back in the Spring so that I could capture the verdant glory of Mike’s farm in Sinking Creek West Virginia. In May of 2016, I returned with some additional crew and plans to stay until I felt that I could put it all together to tell Mike’s story. What emerged is a portrait of one of the most severely principled men I have ever met, and one who cares deeply about justice, the environment, the power of song, and his beloved West Virginia.