For a tyro filmmaker, Josh Fox has had quite a run with his Oscar-nommed feature docu “GasLand.” Now he’s focused on harnessing that momentum to produce a followup to the pic, which got a prime showcase on HBO, and furthering his advocacy efforts on behalf of clean water protection and sounding the alarm about the dangers of natural gas extraction techniques.
Fox is working with thesp Mark Ruffalo and other activists through the newly launched Water Defense org. Fox and Ruffalo linked arms in the fight against the natural gas drilling process known as “hydrofracking” after meeting at the Sundance film fest in 2010, when Ruffalo was there with “The Kids Are All Right” and Fox was on the circuit with “GasLand.” In February, Fox and Ruffalo traveled to D.C. for a lobbying push on legislation related to regulating the natural gas industry. The two also sported blue water drop-shaped lapel pins at the Oscars to tubthump Water Defense and its goals, which are spelled out at Water-Defense.org.
“Mark came running up to me and said I was a hero, and I thought, ‘Whoa — this is Mark Ruffalo,’ ” Fox says of their first Sundance meeting. Ruffalo was alarmed by the issues explored in “GasLand” because he, like Fox, lives along the Delaware River Basin in New York, a major area for fracking.
“This is an emergency,” Fox says. “The water supply for millions is at risk.”
Ruffalo and Fox are putting together a concert series for the summer and fall to put the spotlight on overwhelming evidence that fracking leads to contaminated drinking water supplies and other environmental problems.
“One of the great ways to get people interested is through providing a good time,” Fox says. “Every movement has to have a party — if it’s not fun, it’s not going to work.”
Fox has been gathering footage for months for the second (and possibly a third) “GasLand” pic, which will also air on HBO. Since he’s been targeted by the natural gas lobby — which leaned on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to disqualify the pic from docu consideration — Fox plans to examine how the powerful natural gas industry influences politics and the media.
Long-term, Fox hopes that his docus will help spur a grassroots push for conservation and eco-friendly energy sources.
“I think you’re going to see the movement for renewable energy, not fossil fuels or natural gas, become the next civil rights movement,” Fox says.