“It’s coming,” a baritone voice warns as images of a fiery hellscape flash across the screen. “Lies. Deception,” someone whispers, just before the narrator launches into a diatribe about Josh Fox’s new documentary, Gasland Part II, in a youtube clip whose esthetic falls somewhere between b-horror movie and election season attack ad. It’s the sort of video that might be campy if it wasn’t made with an actual budget.
Posted last November under the account energyforamerica, the faux trailer is one of the first hits in a Gasland 2 youtube search.
“I think it’s kinda unprecedented,” Mr. Fox said after the mock trailer appeared on youtube five months ago. “I don’t know of any other trailer that has attacked a film before even the actual trailer of the film has come out.”
Mr. Fox, the documentarian who made the Emmy-winning Gasland in 2010, and whose new movie Gasland Part II is now making its world premiere at Tribeca, has already withstood an aggressive P.R. campaign the likes of which few journalists and film-makers have ever experienced. The man who forever linked fracking to flaming tap water in the public mind has found himself, once again, in the oil and gas industry’s doghouse.
With funding from an array of oil companies, front groups like Energy in Depth have created entire websites devoted to “debunking” the first-hand reports shown in the first Gasland, produced their own film titled Truthland, and maneuvered behind the scenes to undermine Gasland’s credibility amongst the media.
Now the oil industry is gearing up for a new campaign to attack the sequel. And early signs indicate they plan to pull out all the stops.