The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2005 August 30

Making LNG movies


DEER ISLAND — As the rhetoric continues over three proposed liquified natural gas terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay, Jeff Combs is busy filming those on both sides of the issue for a documentary with the working title "Talk To Me About LNG."

In fact the island pastor who created Old Sow Film Productions in 2002 with the Deer Island Youth Group has already shown the first draft of the documentary at a meeting held in Eastport, Me., earlier this month.

It’s the first time Combs has worked on a documentary, and he said he wants to interview people on both sides of the issue but is finding it hard to get those who are in favour of LNG to go on camera.

"There are lots of people voicing concerns and not many people providing answers. I am looking for more balance as it is very difficult to get people who are for the proposal to talk on camera. There are some people who are pro but getting them on camera is difficult."

Combs said he thought about making the documentary for a while, and then thought the issue was over after the Perry vote, but now things are really heating up with a third LNG proposal announced at Calais City Council last week by BP Consulting LLC.

Although he has been able to interview Brian Smith, project manager for Quoddy Bay LLC, and hopes to do so again he has not had much luck getting anyone from Downeast LNG to agree to go on camera. With last week’s announcement, he is also now trying to contact someone from BP Consulting for an interview.

"I am trying to interview people from both sides. I don’t want this to turn into anti-LNG propaganda. I talked to Dean Girdis (Downeast LNG) on the phone and one thing he did tell me was he was trying to have a meeting and talk to the fishermen on Deer Island so I am hoping to be able to film that."

It’s hard to find people on this side of the border who are in favour of the proposals, said Combs, as Canadians feel they have everything to lose and nothing to gain if the projects go ahead.

The first showing of the documentary was well received, he said, but the audience was a mostly anti-LNG crowd and some of them were featured in the film.

"Talk To Me About LNG" is only a working title, said Combs, and he feels the debate could go on for a long time.

From the Deer Island perspective, he said, if the projects go ahead the disruption would kill their livelihoods and the island would be a completely different place.

Combs said people are talking about leaving the island if LNG comes to Passamaquoddy Bay and children are afraid of what might happen if there is an accident.

"This is a working documentary. It is a fact finding mission. Not coming from a documentary background I am trying to be very careful to get both sides and be fair. Truth to me matters and without that I have nothing to stand on."

Combs said he began filming the documentary in July when the Sail-A-Bration was held.

Originally, he said, he was just going to cover the boats and do a short piece but then he started interviewing people on the dock and it just grew from there.

Since then, he said, he has interviewed people such as Dr. Lesley Pinder, who organized the Sail-A-Bration and is an opponent of LNG, local fishermen Dale Mitchell, people who have aquaculture sites in the bay and Bruce Smith of Seascape Kayaks which operates from the island.

Filming the documentary is a different type of venture for Combs, who usually works the youth group to create spiritually solid and culturally relevant films that other youth and communities can enjoy.

Earlier this summer Old Sow Film Productions "CSI Jerusalem" was chosen as the best student film at the Creation Arts Film Festival in Edmonton, Alta.

Unfortunately, said Combs, they didn’t have the finances to send anyone to Alberta but they are expecting the award to arrive any day now and they were very, very pleased to receive it.

Taking the idea from the CSI television series, this film has a CSI team go into the empty tomb following the resurrection, and they have to piece together what they found.

"It was a creative way to tell the Gospel. The kids ran the camera, did the sound and lights and helped to write the script. This was done just using my gear and just hand-held cameras."


© 2005 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB