“HAYNESVILLE: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future” to Premiere on CNBC Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Internationally successful energy film will receive a special evening on CNBC dedicated to the film. Additional showtimes scheduled on subsequent evenings.

After a successful international tour of the documentary Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future including sold-out screenings in New York, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Boston, Atlanta and Europe the film is landing on NBC/Universal and will air on its CNBC network. Haynesville’s world television premiere will be on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 9PM EST and will be followed by encore presentations at 10pm, 12am and 1am. In addition, the film will run Sunday, November 28th at 10pm.

Read the full Haynesville CNBC Press Release (PDF)

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Film showcases local issue, importance of energy conservation

Director Gregory Kallenberg and producer Mark Bullard’s film “Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for Energy,” a Haynesville Shale documentary, premiered at Tech Oct. 6 in Wyly Tower of Learning Auditorium.

Kallenberg and Bullard were the first speakers of the School of Architecture Lecture Series.

“Haynesville” centers around the discovery of Haynesville Shale, a 170-trillion cubic foot natural gas reserve located in northwestern Louisiana.

“I set out to make a film of people’s personal stories in this energy boom,” Kallenberg said. “We had to add context after the size of the energy reserve was apparent.”

In his film, Kallenberg shares the stories of three individuals directly affected by Haynesville Shale.

These stories show both sides of the energy boom in northwestern Louisiana.

He also spoke with environmentalists, scholars and oil and gas industry experts about the impact of this discovery and its possibilities as an answer to today’s energy crisis.

“The film shows people the costs and benefits of clean energy,” Kallenberg said. “Also, it focuses on the importance of natural gas and energy conservation.”

Amy Day, a junior architecture major, said the film put Haynesville Shale into a new perspective beyond what is shown in the news.

“The movie showed the affects of Haynesville Shale from all angles,” Day said. “It showed what was going on both worldwide and here in Louisiana.”

She also said the film shed light on people not typically seen but greatly affected in these situations.

“The people in the movie were people everyone could relate to,” Day said. “They had struggles like everyone else and are the kind of people you want to hear about.”

Chris Kepner, a senior architecture major, said he liked the film’s emphasis on the community in northwestern Louisiana.

“Haynesville Shale has had a huge impact on this region,” Kepner said. “It’s cool that people from all over are getting to see what’s been going on in our backyard.”

The film has been shown in festivals worldwide including World Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark and South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

The film has also had screenings in New York, Washington, D.C. and New Orleans.

However, Kallenberg said he enjoys showing his film on college campuses the most because of the students he meets.

“Students are an important part of the solution,” he said. “They will be the future of coming up with alternatives and solutions to these energy problems.”

He said he felt the next generation will utilize the energy well but must remember to be responsible with its use.

“I’m excited about the prospect of the reserve,” Kallenberg said. “But we must remember to be vigilant and environmentally responsible if we want to do this right.”

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Last night Thom Powers screened two docs, Jessica Edwards‘ short, Seltzer Works and Gregory Kallenberg’s feature, Haynesville as the penultimate screening in his Spring Stranger Than Fiction series. The series rarely features shorts, but Powers credited the move to the fact that both films focused on gas crises – one very small, one very large, both man-made.

Deftly shot, Seltzer Works is a carefully composed bit of nostalgia for a time when deliverymen schlepped heavy glass bottles full of fizzy water all over Brooklyn. A portrait of a third-generation seltzer man struggling to survive in a world that no longer needs him, Edwards treats her subject with dignity without lapsing into self-seriousness.

Haynesville tells the rather sprawling story of what happens when a very small town is found to be on top of a very big reserve of natural gas. Making a documentary like Haynesville is both an act of faith and an act of cunning – yes, Kallenberg had to trust that events would play out in interesting ways, but he casted smartly, finding subjects with both natural screen presence and storylines that were on an interesting trajectory.

We follow these characters – a suddenly rich landowner who just sold the land he loved to the highest bidder, a local woman who discovers her inner Erin Brockovich and a local preacher who thinks of the natural gas shale underneath his feet as a gift from God – as their lives are forever changed by our nation’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for cheap energy.

Woven throughout are interviews with energy scientists invigorated by what such a large reserve of natural gas means for our energy future. Turns out that Haynesville’s natural gas shale may have granted us a grace period to save ourselves from our gas-guzzling ways.

Haynesville couldn’t possibly be timelier. That black cloud of oil spilling into our nation’s waters has turned an abstract fear into our very real doom. Kallenberg’s impressive act of journalism is both a small shaft of hope in our ever darkening waters and a warning tale about what happens to communities when big energy moves in, both for the better and the worse.

I spoke to Gregory Kallenberg before the screening.

Filmmaker: Which came first, your interested in energy or your interest in Haynesville?

What came first is the interest in Haynesville, the personal story aspect of it. I was working on a different subject about people who had moved back to Louisiana. I was sitting in a café and these two guys walked in straight of central casting, and they were talking about a well.  After hearing them tell it, I perked up my head and discovered these stories were everywhere.

Filmmaker: You’re really there from the very beginning. Did you know from the start that you were going to get a full-length documentary from the subject?

I think one thing to be said for doc filmmakers is we are unbridled optimists. I never questioned I wouldn’t get something. I questioned what it would be.

Filmmaker: How did you approach casting?

We probably started with about eleven stories from all different sides…We wanted to pick three people that gave the embodiment of the time. Some people who didn’t have things go their way said they didn’t want to be filmed anymore and dropped out. Eleven fell to seven real quick, which fell to five, which fell to three, the best of the best.

Filmmaker: At what point did you decided that the more local story of the people in Haynesville needed the global perspective of the energy scientists?

Once we figured out that there was such a vast amount of energy that it was going to change things, that’s when we decided to go out and come up with a larger context. The larger context was what does this natural gas really mean. We were ready for a polarized argument – for the natural gas guys to slams the solar guy and the natural gas guys to slam the back. I think what surprised us is that these people were tacitly agreeing.

Filmmaker: Is shooting in the South easier? Are people less wary of the cameras than in other areas of the country that are more media saturated?

Again, when I started the project, nobody else was on it. I was kind of a novelty… One of the things I do very well is that I am good at meeting people and getting into their personal stories. Der Spiegel and the LA Times did a story, portraying these people as hick lottery winners, and it really upset these people, and we lost some of our stories. People felt that their portrayal was unfair and withdrew. If you betray a Southerner’s trust, they go back to being the most shut off people in the country.

Filmmaker: I went in expecting to experience nothing but doom and gloom and walked out with a feeling of hope. Was that your intent?

I wanted this film to start the conversation. I’ve seen it happened at universities and SXSW and seen people on both sides of the issues come to some sort of agreement… These companies can have the natural gas if they do it in an environmentally safe way that’s fair to landowners… The drill, baby drill people hate my film. The industry does not like my film. Hyper-environmentalists don’t like my film because it says natural gas could be a solution. I do believe there is a rational middle. It’s just up to us to come to a table.

– Mary Anderson Casavant

A graduate of Amherst College, Mary Anderson Casavant was selected as the 2004 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Documentary Intern. Since then, she’s held almost every freelance job that exists in documentary television, including being the coordinating producer of the Emmy Award winning second season of This American Life. Her feature screenplay, Judgey, was one of ten screenplays selected from more than 3500 entries for the final round of the Final Draft Big Break contest. She lives and works in New York City.

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We’re Gonna Be Building Something

“This was the energy development in America that no one foresaw,” says Robert Bryce, author of Gusher of Lies. He’s talking about the 2008 discovery of the Haynesville Shale, the largest natural gas field in the United States. Located in northwest Louisiana, the field inspired a scramble to exploit it, oil companies looking to lease or possess the rights to drill some 12,000 feet below the earth’s surface, “injecting” billions of dollars into the state’s economy, even, according to some estimates, sparing it from “the worst effects of the national slowdown.”

But even as the shale play brought benefits, it raised questions. Chief among these, according to Bryce, is a persistent, widespread dependence on fossil fuels. Even if natural gas has been called a “bridge” between dirty fuels (coal and oil) and renewable but intermittent resources (wind and solar), it still involves drilling at tremendous depths and so, the potential for errors, namely, toxic effects on surrounding land and water. Indeed, as Bryce speaks, it’s hard not to hear warnings that now pertain to the BP oil spill.

This and other questions are explored in Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for Energy, premiering at Stranger Than Fiction on the first of June. Gregory Kallenberg’s remarkable documentary follows three individuals affected by the Haynesworth Shale find. Tracing a complex set of circumstances, as well as legal, ethical, emotional, and environmental issues—the film begins with the story of Mike Smith, whose family wants to sell their homestead, some 300 acres. Smith is reluctant, telling his interviewers that he’s inclined to follow his grandmother’s advice never to sell land: “You can always make a living off land,” she told him.

Still, Smith’s choice seems foregone at the film’s start, when he learns that he’s receive a one-time check for $1.27 million, plus 25% of proceeds from wells drilled on his property, even as he extols the beauty of his own bit of “God’s country.” Because Smith owns his land outright, he faces none of the quandaries facing Kassi Fitzgerald, introduced in eth film as a “community activist and self-taught environmentalist.” As she describes her decision-making process regarding her tiny parcel (some 3.5 acres), the camera cuts to her lawn, where a set of fake chickens seem to scratch at the dirt. The shot is typical of the film’s attention to illustrative and evocative detail: when Smith describes the “great mood” his land puts him in, the camera shows blue skies and vast open spaces; Fitzgerald’s options vis-a-vis Chesapeake, the company looking to buy her land, are here visibly limited.

Read entire review.

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PRESS RELEASEHAYNESVILLE Selected for Coveted “Spotlight Premiere” Slot at SXSW Film 2010

The news came to the “Haynesville” production office in a deceptively simple and somewhat cryptic E-mail from Janet Pierson, SXSW’s producer of the film festival: “Congrats! You’re in! Call me.”

It was the deciphering of the message that was so important.  The documentary “Haynesville: The Relentless Hunt for Energy Future” had been chosen for the world-renowned SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.  Added to that, the film had earned a coveted “Spotlight Premiere” slot and would show at the historic Paramount Theater.

“I couldn’t believe it when Janet told me the news,” said Gregory Kallenberg, director of the film.  “Showing at SXSW was our highest goal.  After getting off of the phone, I actually think I had to sit down and process what had just happened.”

SXSW Film is globally known for being a top-tiered film festival and, with Sundance, the best festival in the country for documentaries.  This year, with less than 50 slots, SXSW broke a record by receiving over 750 documentary films.  Only 20 of the 50 are Spotlight Premieres.

“It’s an amazing honor, and just the way we wanted to premiere the film,” says Kallenberg.  “We feel like ‘Haynesville’ is an important film that needs to seen by the entire country, and we’re hoping that this prestigious showing helps position the film so that it can be seen by a wider audience.”

“Haynesville” plays on Tuesday, March 16 at 11am at the Paramount Theater.  Tickets will be available at the box office prior to the screening for $10.  SXSW badge holders can attend the screening as part of the conference.

ABOUT THE FILM: “Haynesville” is a film documenting the historic discovery of the nation’s largest natural gas field and its effect on three people’s lives.  The film also explores the potential impact of the Haynesville’s vast reserves of natural gas on a clean energy future.  The film has been honored by being an official selection at the Climate Summit in Copehagen and earned a Green Award nomination at the Sheffield International Doc/Fest in England.

ABOUT SXSW FILM: The SXSW® Film Conference and Festival is a uniquely creative environment featuring the dynamic convergence of talent, smart audiences and industry heavyweights. A hotbed of discovery and interactivity, the event offers lucrative networking opportunities and immersion into the art and business of the rapidly evolving world of independent film.


Gregory Kallenberg,

More information and the film trailer:

Facebook group:

More information on SXSW Film:

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World to Get a Glimpse of “Haynesville” in Copenhagen

By Vickie Welborn,

cop15-copenhagen-logoThe Haynesville Shale and its potential impact on the world’s energy future will on display Monday at the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

The documentary, “Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for Energy,” will be shown at least once. “We’re working on a second screening,” said Gregory Kallenberg, director and co-producer.

The invitation to screen “Haynesville” in Copenhagen came “out of the blue,” Kallenberg said. It premiered internationally in November at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival in Sheffield, England. It’s also been shown in New York and New Orleans, with an invitation pending in Houston. Shreveport audiences will get to see it in January.

“We were so busy trying to figure out how to get the film out there and get the film shown in England that it’s not sunk in until today how big this could be,” Kallenberg said this week. He leaves for Denmark today.

Kallenberg and co-producer Mark Bullard began filming “Haynesville” last spring just as the Haynesville Shale forever altered life in northwest Louisiana. The independent filmmakers picked three DeSoto Parish residents — Kassi Fitzgerald, Reegis Richard and Mike Smith — and for several months followed their journey as the boom hit and impacted their lives.

The film tells the story of the Haynesville Shale itself — touted as the largest natural gas find in the United States — and broadens the view to what that could mean to a country searching for solutions to its energy future. Environmentalists, academicians and oil and gas insiders hash out the issues.

“We heard a lot in England about the personal stories and how they show the human side. So there are some lessons to be learned there,” Kallenberg said. “But what I also find when people walk out of the film is they really, if nothing else, grasp the magnitude of the Haynesville Shale and get an idea (about) the impact it could possibly have. The film is changing people’s minds or informing their decisions to think … more almost like they are augmenting their knowledge about natural gas. Anyone with questions on a supply of natural gas will have a clearer picture of the national and international energy picture.”

The Haynesville Shale has the potential to not only lead the nation but lead the world in understanding what natural gas can do for the energy future. “It’s a story that anyone can learn from,” he added.

Kallenberg is uncertain about whether President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to return to the summit Monday, will see “Haynesville.”

“But he has an open invitation. “» We hope delegates of the climate summit all over the world, more importantly the U.S., will get to see the film in this environment,” Kallenberg said. “I can’t think of a better place internationally to see this film. This is a major statement on how to get to an energy future. We made some big statements on that and if this opens discussion on it, then the film has been successful. If I can I have even the smallest impact on the energy discussion in Copenhagen, it will be an amazing thing.”

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HOUSTON CHRONICLE:  Filmmaker Felt “Haynesville” Energy , by Tom Fowler

GK Headshot

Gregory Kallenberg was sitting in a Shreveport diner early last year the first time he heard about the massive Haynesville natural gas find from a fellow patron.

“It was like the crazy miner who comes in from the hills saying he has found gold,” said Kallenberg, a former newspaper reporter and cable television writer turned documentary filmmaker. But what he thought would be a film about the people in the middle of a mad rush for drilling rights ended up being something bigger, a story about the nation’s energy future.

Kallenberg took a few minutes from preparing for a screening of the movie at the Copenhagen climate change conference this week to speak with Chronicle reporter Tom Fowler by phone about his film Haynesville.

Q: What’s your elevator-pitch description of the movie?

A: Haynesville follows the momentous discovery of what is looking like it will be the largest natural gas field in the country. The film itself looks at the discovery from the perspective of three people’s lives and how they’re affected by the find. One is a single mom fighting for her community’s land rights. One is an African-American preacher who’s trying to use the proceeds from the Haynesville to build a Christian school. And the other is a self-described good ol’ boy who becomes an overnight millionaire. The other part that’s woven in between these personal stories is what this vast amount of energy means. What does it mean when you find 170 TCF of natural gas? How does that impact the national energy picture and eventually the energy future?

Q: Energy documentaries tend to be preachy environmental pieces or pro-industry, heavy-on-the-economics films. Where does Haynesville come out?

A: My background is journalism, and being a journalist I was always taught to present things in a balanced way and let the reader pick though the facts and decide what they thought about the story. I approached this film in the very same way. What I had to do was walk a very fine line. It’s the line of not being preachy and not being pro-industry. This is a piece that shows in a very balanced way where energy comes from and what effect it has on the people at the ground level. We all use energy, and using energy, it’s important to know how we get it. And it’s important to know what this energy could do for the nation’s future.

Another thing that we did with the film very consciously is there are no industry people speaking on the expert side. We strictly use academics, pundits and environmentalists. So when all of the sudden you have (environmentalist author) Bill McKibben saying that natural gas is a good solution to take us from where we are to a more green and clean energy future, it has huge impact. That was a conscious decision not to use energy people that has paid dividends because audiences are coming out of the film thinking a different way.

Q: How do you think the movie changes audience opinions on drilling?

A: We’ve now shown this film in Louisiana, in New York, in England, and we’re about to show it in Copenhagen at the climate summit. What we’re seeing with the audience is an empirical change in the way they think. I think people know how much coal we use in the United States. But I don’t think people know how clean a fossil fuel natural gas is. I don’t think people know there’s no utility-level storage for renewables. Bringing these things to the table really does change an audience. During the Q&A at the end of the film, you really expect the audience to want to talk about the personal stories, but they want to talk about energy and natural gas and how they had no idea these facts were there. Especially in Europe, these guys come in with a preconceived notion of what an oil company is and what they do, or what fossil fuels are. The European audiences came out very positive to some of the notions that came out at the end of the film.

Q: Since you stopped filming in early 2009, there’s been a lot of negative backlash against natural gas shale drilling, particularly in the East. Did you experience much of that when filming?

A: It’s definitely a different environment in Louisiana than in the East. But one thing I can say about Louisiana is we really searched hard for water contamination. We really wanted to kick over every rock we could, and at least in Louisiana we found that the oil companies seemed to be very careful. I don’t know if that’s because they’re watching their pocketbooks or they truly cared. But the fact is, I found the energy companies to be decent stewards considering what they do. They’re clearing land and poking holes in the ground. They’re bringing in big trucks. So there is some damage that occurs, but we didn’t run into exactly what they’ve seen in the Marcellus (a shale formation that stretches from West Virginia to New York), or the fervor that’s up there both for and against the drilling.

Q: Where did your funding come from?

A: I was very careful to do this as an independent project with no industry money. Part of my background was cable television writing, so I took that money and put it into it. And then from there, it was friends and family. Much to my wife’s chagrin, her next six summer vacations are in the film Haynesville.

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REVIEW:  “Haynesville” reviewed by UK’s influential “Eye for Film”


Documentaries about oil seem to have been flowing thick and fast of late, but what of our dependence on the other fossil fuels? It’s a big question and one which Gregory Kallenberg’s documentary tackles at the same time as presenting us with a specific example of a community altered irrevocably by the discovery of a gigantic natural gas field underneath their land.

The community in question is Haynesville, a rural area comprising 96 townships, who were told in 2008 that they were sitting on top of an energy goldmine – the Haynesville shale. This gas field is estimated to be worth more than £1 trillion or, put another way, represents enough energy to run all of America’s energy needs for nine years without help from any other source. As one observer puts it it’s a real-life “Jed Clampett story”.

Kallenberg’s camera tracks three people’s very different experiences following their discovery. The first is Mike Smith, a southern gun-and-nature-loving good ol’ boy, who, thanks to his 300 acres of land – which he seems to have accrued mainly for the love of them than with any major fiscal goal in mind – becomes a millionaire overnight. The second, Kassi Fitzgerald, is a single mum who becomes a community activist after hearing one of her neighbours got stung by an oil company. Incensed, she begins to contact all those with small plots, encouraging them to come together so they have better bargaining power with the oil giants both in terms of cash and, importantly, environmental protection issues. Rounding out the personal stories is that of Pastor Reegis Richard, who sees the shale as a gift from God and is endeavouring to use the cash raised from the sales and donated by his parishioners to realise his dream of creating a Christian academy to offer youngsters and alternative to life on the street.

The soundtrack suggests from the outset that all may not be sweetness and light on the road to unbridled wealth and, sure enough, this is not a straight forward story of getting rich quick. Starting from the point at which the gas is discovered and tracking the ups and downs this core trio face, Kallenberg performs the neat trick of offsetting this microcosm of activity, hopes and fears against the much bigger picture of where the US stands in relation to its energy dependency. He has assembled an impressive array of environmental and industry energy experts, who are included talking-heads style at key points in the story, explaining why the US needs to wean itself off oil and coal and how some believe that gas such as that in the Haynesville shale may represent a bridge between the ‘dirty’ energy of the past and the ‘renewables’ of the future.

Click here for Eye for Film\’s entire review

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REVIEW:  “Haynesville” reviewed by


Last night I had the chance to see what was a preview screening of Gregory Kallenberg’s documentary film “Haynesville” and a very interesting panel discussion afterwards.

Somewhere in the list of things I am not is movie critic, but just like a geophysicist who will opine on geopolitics, that won’t stop me. I’ll try to avoid any spoilers because I hope everyone has the opportunity to see the film, as it was very well done. Well shot, well edited and well written. The film professor on the panel after the showing said that it was one of the best documentaries she has seen for the past five years. Since everyone with a video camera is now a documentarian, the level of documentary quality has gone downhill. But “Haynesville” is a professionally made movie that is not to be confused with much of the dreck out there today. Bottom line: it is a very good film.

Click here for\’s entire review

PRESS RELEASE:  “Haynesville” to Premiere at Prestigious Sheffield Documentary Festival in England.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “Haynesville” chosen to have its world premiere in Sheffield, England at prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest.  The film is also selected to compete for the “Green Doc Award”.

“Haynesville” Documentary to Premiere At Prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest (PDF)

PRESS RELEASE: “Haynesville” launches Web Site and Trailer

“Haynesville” officially begins its grassroots campaign to reach the heights of the documentary film world.
Haynesville Releases Web Site and Trailer (PDF)

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Documentary Digs Deep – Shreveport Times –  by Alex Kent

Kallenberg and cinematographer Rob Senska - photo by Greg Pearson

For seven months, Gregory Kallenberg has been crafting a big story from inside a little executive suite in downtown Shreveport.  The producer-director and his team just finished the first cut of “Haynesville,” a documentary about the natural gas drilling boom in northwest Louisiana.

What started as an interest in personal stories about who’s winning and losing in the gas play has grown into an examination of where the Haynesville Shale fits into the global energy crunch.

“We faced a huge learning curve coming into it,” Kallenberg said after spending another long day of fine-tuning their editing choices. By the looks of their well-ordered suite and the sound of precise self-critiques, it’s a good bet “Haynesville” kept pace with the demands of its subject.

Read entire article (PDF)