Life as Mayor of a Death Valley Ghost Town


Deep in California’s Death Valley, you’ll find the ghost town of Ballarat and its mayor, Rock Novak.

You won’t come across anyone else though—Rock’s been presiding over the town as mayor, sheriff, judge and the undertaker alone for years now. “I’m kind of a conservative mayor, I save a ton of money,” Novak explains in documentary short The Mayor of Ballarat. “The buildings get bad, we just let ‘em fall down. The schoolhouse fell down last year so we don’t have to worry ‘bout that anymore.”

Self-reliant, eccentric, and completely content with life far from the reaches of society, Rock runs through various features of the remnants of a former mining supply town with a touch of pride. There’s the swimming pool that’s perfect for a dip when temperatures soar, Charles Manson’s old broken down truck, and a date plant that he expects to bear fruit in about 30 years time. Filmmakers Mickey Todiwala and Monika Delgado’s flawless cinematography, composition and pacing manage to capture a life lived slow, without the five-minute film limping along. Hit play on the intriguing short, above.

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