‘Fracking is so polarizing right now’: Matt Damon on Promised Land

Energy industry slams Matt Damon fracking film as Hollywood fiction by Kelly Cryderman and Carrie Tait, January 4, 2013, The Globe and Mail
A blend of engineering and geology hardly makes for a Hollywood blockbuster. But the latest movie about hydraulic fracturing – yes, there’s more than one out there – has an A-lister taking shots at the controversial practise. The film – Promised Land, co-written and starring Matt Damon – opens Friday, but the energy industry’s supporters are already fuming over how they have been painted as the bad guy. The movie, they argue without knowing all the details because they have not watched it yet, is full of scare-mongering rather than facts. … Gasland, released in 2010, was critical of natural gas players and famously showed someone lighting tap water on fire. The energy industry, experts say, must battle Promised Land or risk losing ground in the fracking debate. The audience for Promised Land, after all, is full of folks who have not spent years figuring out how guar gum and water can be mixed together to shatter previously impenetrable rocks. “There’s a lot of misinformation in any story,” Deborah Thompson, principal of communications and executive consultancy DT Communications, said. “It doesn’t matter if it is as contentious as this, in any story for any company, regardless of whatever industry they are in, you have to correct misinformation. While that doesn’t sound terribly Hollywood sexy, that’s what you have to do.”

Oil and gas executives and lobbyists are already on the job when it comes to Promised Land , jumping on the movie’s trailer, which shows a man in a dark pub wearing a ball cap and plain sweater taking the stage with a warning message. “Hi everybody. I’m here because my farm is gone. The land just turned brown and died. If it happened to one of us,” he says as the camera cuts to photographs of dead cows, “it can happen to all of us.” This line makes Michael Binnion, Questerre Energy Corp.’s chief executive, bristle. There is no evidence, he says, that the energy industry has wiped out entire farms. Movies like Promised Land, he says, will stoke confusion. “Just because somebody has made an allegation doesn’t mean there really are two legitimate points of view,” Mr. Binnion said. “It just appears that way to the uninformed.”

Janice Mandel, president of String Communications, says the energy industry would be wise to find third-parties to examine the issues and use their findings to support their case in the aftermath of movies such as Promised Land. “Their credibility is very good and they are speaking on your behalf,” she said. She cautioned, however, the outsiders should not be paid. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers spokesman Travis Davies says he does not think the movie can be taken for anything other than fiction. Mr. Davies, like other critics of the film, noted funding for Promised Land came in part from Abu Dhabi’s Image Nation, a government-controlled production company. … “This movie has about as much in common with the reality of current natural gas production as any Hollywood romance has with love.”

‘Fracking is so polarizing right now’: Matt Damon on Promised Land by Bob Thompson, Postmedia News, January 3, 2012, Calgary Herald
“The movie asks a difficult question,” Damon says of his latest project. “Do you take your daughter to the whorehouse when times are tough?” [Emphasis added]

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