Residents of Upstate New York Fight Gas Drilling...With Zombies (Video)

Citizens of Upstate New York have found a unique way to voice their concerns about natural gas drilling in the area: they’ve made a zombie movie.


"Frac Attack: Dawn of the Watershed" is a 17-minute film that employs many of the genre’s signature characteristics -- cannibalism, festering wounds, protagonists who can’t seem to run seven steps without falling down -- to raise awareness about hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking for short), a controversial drilling technique. In the film, residents of Ithaca, NY find that their well water has been contaminated with foul smelling, "proprietary" fracking chemicals. After drinking it, they turn into moaning, brain-hungry monsters.

Essentially a zombie PSA, "Frac Attack" was made with the help of 70 community volunteers and with a budget of about $300. Shira Golding, the film’s director, said the horror genre was a perfect vessel to raise public awareness.

"The situation itself is so ridiculous on so many levels that the film itself is kind of echoing that shock and ridiculousness,” Golding said. “How could we even consider this?"

The film was shot over the course of two weekends in October, according to McKenzie Jones-Rounds, its leading lady. Approaching the issue of gas drilling with an eye toward creativity, she said, was a way to make the advocacy side of it more accessible.

"It’s an outlet for people who may not have one," she said. "It’s such a good metaphor for the unfortunate apathy much of the public has about these issues."

New York is currently embroiled in a debate over drilling in the Marcellus Shale, an enormous rock formation that’s believed to hold the largest cache of natural gas in the continental United States. Were Marcellus drilling to begin, the state’s southern tier would be ground zero for exploration. Many in the area have already leased their land to gas companies.

"We can see very clearly that there are really strong forces at work to try to get this drilling happening," Golding said. "The Department of Environmental Conservation is really not calculating for the cumulative effects of this drilling."

"The spirit of this film is very much supposed to be by and for the community, to spark involvement in the community," she added.

"Frac Attack" debuted last Thursday at a local theater in Ithaca. Both its R-rated and PG-13-rated versions can be watched here. Teaser after the jump.

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