There is probably no greater subject than energy that binds the human condition; it affects everything in our lives. But perhaps the most profound way to change the environmental impact oil exploration has on our world is through an assessment of individual need and use of our resources. The central focus for our film is the dialogue that promotes informed consideration of changes in lifestyle. Petrochemical dependence is not going away soon, but through an examination of history and consideration of what impedes our understanding of interdependence, we can stir people to question their behavior. Today, that can be hope amidst despair. Personal stories form a family’s legacy and a new found sense of accountability; their struggle makes change imaginable. It is this story of culture change that makes accessible a commitment to a different future.
OIL IN THE FAMILY combines a personal narrative with scenes from “Louisiana Story” and will push the boundaries of documentary and docudrama. The film explores the complex issues surrounding oil exploration, extraction and manufacturing through my own animation, classic animation, interviews and personal stories. We will depict its impact on family and the larger context of how it has changed that place where the original story was filmed. As filmmakers we return to the original film location sixty years later and examine the real impact oil exploration and the powerful petrochemical industry has had and continues to have on the South Central region of Louisiana, its people, its economy, the indigenous landscape and the larger world.
This is a story of a Northeastern man’s search to understand his deep Southern roots and in the course finds out how an industry, the world and as a result the climate changed that place and ultimately reconciles remote areas of the country to their shared need for stewardship of the environment.
Goldman’s late maternal grandmother, Lucy Benjamin Lemann, was born in New Orleans, later moved to Manhattan and Woods Hole, Massachusetts. She was a friend of Flaherty’s and helped him secure access to his locations there. Her father owned land on Weeks Island, Louisiana where scenes were ultimately shot. It was at Weeks Island that my family operated a Salt business that they sold to Morton Salt but kept the mineral rights, and like the boy’s family in “Louisiana Story”, oil was found. Building from transcripts of interviews Goldman’s grandmother gave to Columbia University’s Robert J. Flaherty Oral History Project part of the story will be cast, scenes will be shot and ultimately made into animated sequences based on a graphic novel I have drawn of the meeting between Flaherty and Lemann.
“It is our intention as filmmakers to make an innovative film,” says Goldman. “We intend to use narrative structure based on these personal historical elements, interviews and motion capture animation based on a graphic novel I have developed to create a new hybrid which ultimately will bring the critical state of the environmental degradation of one of the country’s, if not the world’s most vital watersheds/ecosystems into focus in an accessible way.”