“Backyard” is a story of seeing broadly and considering the greater good. Told via animations and people's experiences with fracking.
Energy companies pursue increasingly difficult methods of fossil fuel extraction at increasing costs to the people and the environment. “Backyard” examines three states that are presently in different stages of hydro-fracking development. The results are several powerful stories of people at odds with the natural gas extraction occurring around them.
Interspersed throughout these human stories is an animated fable about a group of birds that forgets to use its strongest asset as it frantically tries to solve a crisis. When one bird remembers that she has the ability to fly, it reminds the group to “step back” and look at the bigger picture. Out of this simple act, a much clearer solution presents itself. The whole time, all they needed to do was what made the most sense.
North Dakota, in the midst of a massive boom in the oil and gas industry, is overrun with energy company workers, causing a scramble to accommodate the massive labor influx. Several families share their stories, including several community members who have seen major changes in their schools and infrastructure demands, a couple that lacks the mineral rights under their ranch and must cope with the day-to-day reality of living on a drilling site, a woman whose creek downstream of a frack site has stopped freezing in the winter, bubbles constantly, and has poisoned and killed her pets and livestock.
In Pennsylvania, the residents of a mobile home park on the banks of the Susquehanna River are struggling against being forcibly evicted to make way for a water uptake facility. The station will pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from the river every day, exclusively for use in hydro-fracking. Just upstream, a local store owner is pressured to sell land that's been in her family for generations. Though she holds out, she is surrounded by fracking's impacts, including having much of her family move away for fear of the adverse health effects.
In Colorado, an ex-oil & gas worker tries to uncover the truth at a well site where he witnessed several toxic spills. Nearby, residents of the small town of Parachute continue to fight for their health in spite of being told repeatedly by natural gas developers that their problems have no relation to the industrial activity that's been going on in their backyards for years.
The concluding animated segment, by way of the birds' realization, implores us to seek out more sustainable and less costly solutions to our energy demands.
The funding received from the Kickstarter campaign will be used primarily for production costs including travel to different fracking sites, the cheapest lodging available, all the myriad incidentals of filmmaking--batteries, food, equipment rental, thank you cards ... and eventually some post-production costs including a composer, sound mixer and various others. I'm also applying for several grants to help polish the film down the road and make it that much stronger, but this initial goal will make the actual filming possible.
Also, if enough money is pledged, I would LOVE to offset the carbon footprint of making the film... I've tried to make it as minimal as possible, but transportation to and from shoots adds up. At least my Corolla gets 37 mpg...
Why am I making this film?
Because I want to save the world.
No, but seriously, check out leading climate scientist James Hansen's recent paper or NY Times article. We gotta kick this addiction for real and the best motivator to get people to change their behaviors is through their hearts---which is what film can do really well! (That's a big reason I picked this career....) That said, this movie will in no way guilt people into action (or into annoyance and subsequent inaction). I intend to use the people stories to move viewers, and the animated fable to inspire them. No doom, no gloom. (At least not gratuitous doom or gloom...)
Why help fund it?
Well, it won't get made nearly as well without support. The better this film is, the more people it will inspire to take action, and that's the only way this climate situation is going to change trajectory: some sort of critical tipping point in awareness. Fellow Bozemanite, Pete Strom, phrased our current global situation as "a race between consciousness and catastrophe."
Every little pebble on the consciousness side of the scale could be the one that counts!
- (43 days)