Internet TV network Babelgum has announced the first project to be funded from its $15 million Digital Studio Initiative will be “Oil Sands,” a feature-length environmental doc about the threatened Athabasca Oil Sands region in Alberta, Canada.
Project will look at the tensions between the indigenous population in northern Alberta and the controversial technology attempting to harness the natural resources of the Athabasca Oil Sands region.
Canada has the world’s second highest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.
Project will be produced by Insomnia Media Group, Emmy-award winning producer Philip Alberstat and Emmy-nominee Randy Bradshaw. Leslie Iwerks (“Recycle Story”) will helm.
Budget of “Oil Sands” is believed to be in the mid six figure dollars range.
Project is the first to come out of Babelgum’s fund dedicated to commissioning original content. The company uses peer-to-peer technology to deliver professionally produced content, instead of the user-generated clips of sites such as YouTube.
“Oil Sands” will be available on the Babelgum site in the form of 15-20 minutes clips. Principal photography is set to start in a month’s time with the project completed by late summer.
“We’re not going to turn into a studio overnight,” said Babelgum director of content Mark Cranwell. “We’ll be picking and choosing our projects on the basis of getting the most amount of attention to the widest public possible on issues, such as the environment, which are important to Babelgum. This was a good starting point.”
Even after “Oil Sands” is completed- and Babelgum exec are looking to sell the long-form version of the project to traditional broadcasters- Iwerks and the project’s creative team will continue to revisit the citizens of Alberta and the oil execs interviewed to offer auds updates on the story further down the line.
In March Babelgum formally opened its online film festival by making more than 1,000 shorts available for public viewing and voting.
The winners in seven categories will be announced May 20 at a gala awards ceremony in Cannes, during the film festival.