Several days after reading an article in the "New York Times" about an oil boom in North Dakota, Wesleyan University senior Noah Hutton flew west and began his preliminary research for what would later become the feature-length documentary, Crude Independence.
Hutton, a neuroscience and art history major, had never made a documentary, much less a film, but felt the issue was topical and was compelled to expose a story about the newest and deepest oil discovery in the United States.
He returned to North Dakota that following May (in 2006), when news of the oil discovery began to peak. Hutton and his crew of two, with a budget of $10,000 (all tracked on an Excel spreadsheet by their "finance manager"), produced an account of what he describes as an "historical moment."
Just in the past years, says Hutton, the North Dakota landscape has transformed from a flat, uninhabited wasteland to a sprawling scene of power lines, trailers and "bobbing creatures" digging 10,000 feet for one of the world's most precious resources. The state had a surplus of $1Billion last fiscal year and is hugely profiting from this boom; there are hundreds of jobs for the transient workforce, but housing is scarce.
The film just won Best of Fest at the Oxford Film Festival and will go on tour after leaving Big Sky.
Hutton hopes to make his next film about artificial intelligence and a process to measure its existence, called the "Turing Test."