A Story of Resistance Deep in the Heart of the Oil and Gas Empire
With my partner, Garrett Graham, I wrote and produced our feature-length documentary, Don’t Frack With Denton, which tells the empowering story of how the hometown that we love became the first city in Texas to ban the controversial drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) deep in the heart of the oil and gas empire — and why some residents went to jail to defend it.
We’re originally from Denton ourselves, and we produced this independent documentary to showcase how a band of tenacious activists here managed to upstage the oil and gas industry with the power of music and community organizing. Armed with sock puppets and ukulele’s, the activists were able to defeat the oil and gas industry’s millions in purchased advertising, winning a landslide electoral victory in November of 2014 in which 59 percent of Dentonites voted to ban fracking within city limits.
But their victory proved to be a major threat to the industry, as Denton sits on the very same underground shale formation where a fracking technique that made the practice profitable was pioneered in the 1990s — a region where the industry holds unrivaled political and economic power. The reaction was swift.
Since the ban passed in the fall of 2014, Texas legislators connected to the industry interests and to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council passed legislation making Denton’s fracking ban unenforceable and preempting more than 300 other Texas cities’ authority to ban fracking within their borders.
Signed into law in the spring of 2015, House Bill 40 eviscerated more than 150 years of Texas’ proudly-held tradition of local control by severely limiting the type of regulation local governments can impose on oil and gas operations within their limits so that such regulations are found to be “commercially reasonable” to the industry.
Our documentary takes you inside this movement to witness fundamental questions about how ordinary people can change the world — but not without putting up one hell of a fight. Their triumphs and setbacks, and their dedication and disillusionment, offer vital lessons for any movement that wants to kick the polluters out of town and protect their friends, family and environmental future.
- Premiere: Dallas Video Fest – Dallas, Texas, 2017
- Thin Line’s Day of the Docs Fest – Denton, Texas, 2017
- Loma Linda University Earth Care Film Festival – Loma Linda, California, 2017
- Datalus Pictures Documentary Showcase – Gainesville, Texas, 2017
- Texas Woman’s University – Denton, Texas, 2018
- University of North Texas – Denton, Texas, 2018
- Indivisible Denton Presents – Denton, Texas, 2018
- Huston-Tillotson University Earth Day ATX – Austin, Texas, 2018
- EARTHxFilm Festival – Dallas, Texas, 2018
- Eugene Environmental Film Festival – Eugene, Oregon, 2018
- Award Winner: Colorado International Activism Film Festival – Denver, Colorado, 2018
- Best Documentary Feature Film
- Best Cinematography for a Documentary Feature Film
- Best Soundtrack/Audio/Music for a Documentary Feature Film
- Best Production Design for a Documentary Feature Film
- International Green Film Festival – Kraków, Poland, 2018
- Award Winner: Green Motions Film Festival – Freiburg, Germany, 2018
- “Millennials in Motion” Award