I was mailed this by an oil industry colleague with whom I share many views on how energy is made and its future. spOILed is yet another documentary/film making the rounds following the rise of domestic onshore shale gas drilling, especially in the northeast United States shale trends. Its director, Mark Mathis, outlines his motives for making the film with an attempt at transparency on who funded it and why. I highlight the last paragraph of this statement because it is a philosophy absolutely critical to America’s future energy supplies and one that defies where you stand on this issue politically. However, I agree with Mathis only if energy companies and political stakeholders are serious about a transition. In other words, it’s easy to say this to justify the continuation of drilling for hydrocarbons while there are little to no real and systematic efforts being made in renewables research and development.
… The first time I was asked, “Is ‘Big Oil’ funding this film?” I had to laugh. We knew that would be the assumption when we started raising money. It’s a given that every film made about oil MUST slam those greedy, evil companies that feed our “addiction”.
The truth is that companies known as “Big Oil” wouldn’t come near a film like spOILed for fear of the repercussions they fear would come from the elite press corps and politicians. Truth is a dangerous thing. When people are hurting from high fuel costs there must be a villain, and oil companies are such an easy target.
While spOILed does explain some practical realities of the oil business and examines charges of “price gouging” and “record profits” the film isn’t about oil companies. It’s about us—the people who are suffering and who are going to suffer a lot more as the result of being deceived about this critically important commodity affecting every aspect of our lives.
Frustration is what drove me to make spOILed. I began learning about oil/gas and energy in general after I was tapped by a small oil and gas organization to help them with their media needs in 2002. What I learned blew me away. After years of study and analysis I became alarmed at the deception taking place in the US and around the world. Much of the deception was/is intentional and systematic. Varied groups, all pursing their own individual interests, have misled us. The end result is that most people are completely unaware of the biggest problem ever faced by humanity—a problem that will become obvious to all sometime soon. Instead of giving people the truth and paving the way toward real solutions, politicians have actually made the problem worse.
With few people willing to take a realistic, sobering look at our oil use, I knew I had to accept this mission. The idea of spOILed was born. Now I needed some money. I knew no major oil company would touch this project, but just to be sure I asked a few executives from “Big Oil” if they would consider an investment of this kind. They suppressed their laughter (mostly) and politely declined. I ultimately found the investment I needed from a small group of independent investors. Yes, some of them have oil/gas interests. However, I told these investors they would have no input in the content of the film. Some of the content they would like, some they might not (such as the considerable amount of time devoted to the BP Gulf Oil Spill of 2010 and the Santa Barbara Spill of 1969, and even the issue of Peak Oil).
I know there are those who will attack spOILed because the investment used to make the film did not come from some mythical, disinterested entity. Here’s a shocker—no other documentary filmmaker has managed to find such a benevolent, neutral investor. We welcome criticism from others, so long as they have the integrity to attack our data and analysis, which we believe is sound and true.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the making of spOILed is that I have the same end goal as biggest green energy advocate out there. We must transition AWAY FROM OIL as such a dominant fuel for transportation. The difference between us is that I am facing the REALITY that this transition will take many decades to achieve and while we’re on the way we need a LOT more oil to keep the modern world functioning.