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Directed byJosh Fox
Written byJosh Fox
Produced byTrish Adlesic
Molly Gandour
Josh Fox
David Roma
Narrated byJosh Fox
CinematographyJosh Fox
Edited byMatthew Sanchez
International WOW Company
Distributed byHBO
Release date
  • January 24, 2010 (2010-01-24) (Sundance)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States

Gasland is a 2010 American documentary written and directed by Josh Fox. The film focuses on communities in the United States where natural gas drilling activity was a concern and, specifically, on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), a method of stimulating production in otherwise impermeable rock.

Fracking is a technique that has been used routinely since the late 1940s as an aid to stimulating production in oil and gas wells.[1] Horizontal drilling, a recent innovation in drilling techniques, can create horizontal pathways deep within the earth, and has successfully incorporated hydraulic fracturing to release fluids from shale formations. Horizontal drilling coupled with fracking has transformed the energy business, enabled vast new supplies of natural gas, and advanced the goal of United States energy independence.

The film was a key mobilizer for the anti-fracking movement,[2] and "brought the term 'hydraulic fracturing' into the nation's living rooms" according to The New York Times.[3] Gasland premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, where it was awarded the 2010 Special Jury Prize for Documentary. In June 2010, it premiered on HBO to an audience of 3 million homes, was seen by over 250,000 audience members in its 250 city grassroots tour. The film was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature,[3][4] and won a 2011 Emmy for best non-fiction director among numerous other awards.


John Fenton, a farmer and rancher from Pavillion, Wyoming, become an internationally recognized anti-hydraulic fracturing activist following his appearance in Gasland. He is pictured here at a public event in Sheridan, Wyoming, on September 15, 2012. [5]

Fox narrates his reception of a letter in May, 2008, from a natural gas company offering to lease his family's land in Milanville, Pennsylvania for $100,000 to drill for gas.[6] Fox then set out to see how communities are being affected in the west where a natural gas drilling boom has been underway for the last decade. He spent time with citizens in their homes and on their land as they relayed their stories of natural gas drilling in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Texas, among others. He spoke with residents who have experienced a variety of chronic health problems directly traceable to contamination of their air, of their water wells or of surface water. In some instances, the residents are reporting that they obtained a court injunction or settlement money from gas companies to replace the affected water supplies with potable water or water purification kits.[7]

Throughout the documentary, Fox reached out to scientists, politicians, and gas industry executives and ultimately found himself in the halls of Congress as a subcommittee was discussing the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, "a bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal a certain exemption for hydraulic fracturing."[8] Hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.[9]


Josh Fox plays his banjo at a jam session following an environmental meeting in Sheridan, Wyoming, USA, on November 5, 2011. Fox was the featured speaker.

Gasland was conceived, directed, primarily filmed and narrated by Fox. This is his first documentary and second film; his first was a narrative feature entitled Memorial Day. The executive producers of Gasland are Debra Winger and Hunter Gray; producers are Trish Adlesic, Fox and Molly Gandour; co-produced by David Roma; cinematographers are Fox and Matthew Sanchez; editor is Matthew Sanchez; supervising sound editor is Brian Scibinico;[10] animators are Juan Cardarelli and Alex Tyson; consultants are Morgan Jenness and Henry Chalfant and researchers are Molly Gandour, Barbara Arindell, Fox and Joe Levine.[11]

The documentary was made in about eighteen months. Fox began the project as a one-man crew, but was joined by three other cameras at different points.[12] Matthew Sanchez is credited with the structure of the film and together with Fox edited roughly 200 hours of footage to about 100 minutes.[13]



Robert Koehler of Variety referred to it as "one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years… Gasland may become to the dangers of natural gas drilling what Silent Spring was to DDT."[14]

Eric Kohn of IndieWire wrote, "Gasland is the paragon of first person activist filmmaking done right… By grounding a massive environmental issue in its personal ramifications, Fox turns Gasland into a remarkably urgent diary of national concerns."[15]

Stewart Nusbaumer of the Huffington Post wrote "Gasland... just might take you from outrage right into the fire of action."[16]

As of 2010 Gasland holds a 98% rating on the film site Rotten Tomatoes based on 41 reviews, and an average rating of 6.98/10. The website's critical consensus states, "GasLand patiently and powerfully outlines alarming problems with modern fuel extraction -- and the horrific public health risks that go along with them".[17]

Mark Kermode of BBC Radio 5 Live gave it a generally positive review, criticizing its similarity to other recent oil documentaries, yet praising its "extraordinary visual kick". He said "it is a very interesting story which is made better by the fact that the visuals of it are very poetic, very lyrical", and felt that its themes and ideas were relevant and well presented.

The Denton Record Chronicle said "Fox decides that his own backyard in Pennsylvania isn’t his exclusive property... Set to his own banjo music and clever footage, Gasland is both sad and scary... if your soul isn’t moved by the documentary, yours is a heart of shale."[18]

Bloomberg News critic Dave Shiflett wrote that Fox "may go down in history as the Paul Revere of fracking."[19]

Chicago TimeOut gave Gasland four out of five stars.[20]

In Australia, film critic Julie Riggs called the documentary a "horror movie, and a wake-up call."[21][22]

Fort Worth Business Press writer John-Laurent Tronche talks about the growing number of documentaries "that aim to shed a light on what they call a dirty, destructive practice: shale gas exploration. And although oil and gas supporters have labeled the motion pictures as radical propaganda, a local drilling activist said they’re part of a larger, critical look into an ever-growing industry."[23]


Energy in Depth (EiD), launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America,[24] has created a web page with a list of factual inaccuracies in the documentary,[25] and produced an associated film titled TruthLand.[26] In response to the EID's criticisms of the film, the makers of Gasland offered a rebuttal.[27]

In an article for Forbes magazine, Dr. Michael Economides, a professor of engineering at the University of Houston and former consultant for energy companies including Chevron, Shell, and Petrobras,[28] commented on the Gasland scene of "a man lighting his faucet water on fire and making the ridiculous claim that natural gas drilling is responsible for the incident. The clip, though attention-getting, is wildly inaccurate and irresponsible. To begin with, the vertical depth separation between drinking water aquifers and reservoir targets for gas production is several thousand feet of impermeable rock. Any interchange between the two, if it were possible, would have happened already in geologic time, measured in tens of millions of years, not in recent history."[29]

In an article for Movies on Chatham, Dr. Pam Hassebroek, formerly a petroleum reservoir engineer (Registered Professional Engineer) at Exxon Research and at Shell, points out the long history of oil seeps in surface areas. In Pennsylvania and New York, surface oil has been documented since at least as far back as the 18th century. Further, U.S. oil and gas production has benefited from the use of hydraulic fracturing since the 1940s.[30]

A documentary rebutting Gasland's claims, FrackNation, was successfully funded on Kickstarter.





A sequel to Gasland titled Gasland Part II premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 21, 2013.[31][32][33][34] Gasland Part II premiered on HBO July 8, 2013 won the 2013 Environmental Media Association award for Best Documentary, the Best Film at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and was given the Hell Yeah Prize from Cinema Eye honors.

Josh premiered How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016, toured the world theatrically and was released on HBO in June 2016, as part of the Gasland trilogy. This film was awarded Josh's third Environmental Media Association award for Best Documentary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hassebroek, W.E.; Waters, A.B. (1964-07-01). "Advancements Through 15 Years of Fracturing". Journal of Petroleum Technology. 16 (7): 760–764. doi:10.2118/801-PA. ISSN 0149-2136.
  2. ^ Vasi, Ion Bogdan; Walker, Edward T.; Johnson, John S.; Tan, Hui Fen (2015-10-01). ""No Fracking Way!" Documentary Film, Discursive Opportunity, and Local Opposition against Hydraulic Fracturing in the United States, 2010 to 2013". American Sociological Review. 80 (5): 934–959. doi:10.1177/0003122415598534. ISSN 0003-1224. S2CID 146633724.
  3. ^ a b Mike SORAGHAN (February 24, 2011), "Groundtruthing Academy Award Nominee 'Gasland'", The New York Times
  4. ^ "Sparks Fly Over 'Gasland' Drilling Documentary", Talk of the Nation, NPR, February 24, 2011
  5. ^ [1] Illawarra Mercury Website (Australia). Fenton, John. (2014, February 28). CSG industry’s solution: bury proof. (Retrieved 2014-03-18.)
  6. ^ Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) film page on Gasland. 2010-11-19
  7. ^ Quoted from the Gasland documentary itself, at about minutes 35-40.
  8. ^ 111th United States Congress. "S. 1215: Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act." 2010-04-27
  9. ^ Energy Policy Act of 2005. Pub. L. 109-58, TITLE III, Subtitle C, SEC. 322. Hydraulic fracturing. 2011-02-06
  10. ^ "Brian Scibinico". imdb. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  11. ^ Sundance Film Festival. “Artists Interview at Sundance and About the Film.” Archived 2010-03-29 at the Wayback Machine 2010-04-24.
  12. ^ MakingOf. "Interview: Josh Fox."[Usurped!] 2010-02-25. 2010-05-04.
  13. ^ IndieWire. “Sundance ’10: Gasland Director Josh Fox on Being a One Man Crew.” 2010-01-22. 2010-04-24.
  14. ^ Koehler, Robert (2010-01-25). "Gasland Movie Review from the Sundance Film Festival". Variety. Archived from the original on April 28, 2018. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  15. ^ Kohn, Eric (2010-01-30). "The Toxic Avenger: Josh Fox's 'GasLand'". indieWIRE. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  16. ^ Nusbaumer, Stewart (2010-02-18). "Big Sky Doc Film Fest: Gasland Fuel for Justice". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  17. ^ "Gasland (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  18. ^ Breeding, Lucinda (2010-02-18). "'GasLand' Worthy of Sundance Accolades". Denton Record-Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  19. ^ Shiflett, Dave (2010-06-21). "Cook a Hamburger, Blow Up Your Polluted Town". Bloomberg.
  20. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (2010-11-24). "Gasland - Film - Time Out Chicago". Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  21. ^ "Movietime - 19 November 2010 - Gasland". 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  22. ^ "RN Australia Talks - 8 December 2010 - Australia Talks Movies: Gasland". December 8, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  23. ^ Tronche, John-Laurent (2010-04-12). "Drilling Documentaries Abound as Shale Gas Goes Nationwide". Fort Worth Business Press. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  24. ^ Honan, Edith (2010-06-17). "Film challenges safety of U.S. shale gas drilling". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  25. ^ Energy in Depth (June 9, 2010). "Debunking GasLand" (PDF). Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  26. ^ "A project of IPAA and Energy In Depth". TruthLand Movie. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  27. ^ "Affirming Gasland" (PDF).
  28. ^ "Michael Economides, International Energy Expert, Dead at 64 Energy Tribune".
  29. ^ Economides, Michael (2010-04-22). "Slurring Natural Gas with Flaming Faucets and Other Propaganda". Forbes.
  30. ^ Hassebroek, Pam (April 2018). "Where and How Did Our Oil and Gasland Begin--Do We Really Want It to End Abruptly?". Movies on Chatham. Archived from the original on 2018-05-06. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  31. ^ Jeff Goodell. "New Anti-Fracking Film by Gasland's Josh Fox Targets Cuomo: 'Governor, What Color Will the Sky Be Over New York?' | Jeff Goodell | Politics News". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 7, 2017. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  32. ^ 05/15/2012 3:56 pm (2012-05-15). "Josh Fox, 'Gasland' Filmmaker And Activist, Working On Documentary Sequel". Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  33. ^ "Josh Fox Arrested on Capitol Hill While Filming 'Gasland' Sequel | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews". Indiewire. 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  34. ^ "Gasland Part II". Tribeca Enterprises LLC. Archived from the original on 2013-04-19. Retrieved 2013-04-10.

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