From the filmmakers of the award-winning documentary Fuel comes the The Big Fix, which details the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
On April 20, 2010—ironically, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day—the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig exploded and sank, creating the worst oil spill in history. In the documentary The Big Fix, Josh and Rebecca Tickell expose the root causes of the oil spill—and what happened after the news cameras left the Gulf states. Though it earned a coveted spot as an official selection of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the film struggled to get broad distribution, even with big star power behind it—it was executive produced by Tim Robbins and features Peter Fonda. Here, filmmaker Josh Tickell shares his motivation for making the film.
His inspiration: I have a long history with oil in Louisiana—I grew up in Louisiana and watched family members and other people I knew get sick from the acute pollution that came from the many oil refining complexes there. Conversely, my wife Rebecca (who is also the film’s producer/co-director) is from Vermont, where an oil refinery dare not tread. We decided to go to Louisiana to do a think tank with local nongovernmental organizations on immediate solutions to the spill that didn’t rely on the government or BP. Jason Mraz, Amy Smart, and Peter Fonda joined us, and while we were in New Orleans, we staged a small, peaceful march to say, “Hey, what about green energy? After all, that’s the ultimate solution.” The next day, we went down to the beach and found that the oil had literally been covered up with sand. That’s how they were convincing media that it had been “made OK.”
The physical cover-up was the smoking gun. From that point, we decided it was our responsibility to tell the story as no one in the mainstream media seemed willing to dig beneath the surface, of the sand. For Rebecca, the oil spill became very personal, as she was exposed to the oil-Corexit (a dispersant) mixture and sustained what some doctors have told us is irreversible skin damage.
His hope: The movie is so white-hot controversial because we show how the Obama Administration was complicit in the whole BP oil spill. It’s a truth that isn’t very popular with our normal audience. So, although it may be a hard pill to swallow, I think it is an important look at what happens when corporate money gets involved and everything goes wrong. My hope is that Obama gets a second term, watches the movie—our last movie, Fuel, was screened in the White House—rolls up his sleeves, and gets federal agencies to clean up the mess that still exists in the Gulf of Mexico. As far as we know, oil was still leaking until very recently, and Corexit is still approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. These are just a few of the things that public pressure can change. Awareness is key—and The Big Fix is the side of the story that the government and BP would rather be swept away with the tide.
His future: We’re making another movie about what the world will be like in 2050 and what we can do to make sure that is the world we want for our kids. We’re tackling the fuel/oil situation head-on, and we’re showing how every car in the world can be run on alternative fuel—right now. It’s a hopeful movie. I’m also going back to doing strategy and consulting work now, helping green companies raise money and position themselves for success. There’s plenty of work to do, and luckily I believe we still have time to turn everything around.
Download The Big Fix or purchase the DVD online. For more information, go to thebigfixmovie.com.