Minn.-born filmmaker takes look at personal side of ND oil boom


A Minnesota-born photographer and filmmaker is grabbing national attention for her new documentary on the oil boom in North Dakota.

Time magazine is featuring a piece on Grand Rapids native Christina Clusiau, who directed and shot the short film "Black Rush Life."

Clusiau tells Time that her film is about the "personal life" of the people who work in the Bakken oil fields, where experts suggest it could take another 27 years to remove the estimated 7.4 million barrels of oil underground.

The filmmaker -- who shot "Black Rush Life" along with Shaul Schwarz -- said she wanted to show "more than the industry, more than whether domestic fracking is good or bad. I wanted to look at the human experience."

Clusiau, who now lives in New York, said that she was inspired to make the film after a lot of her Minnesota friends headed to North Dakota for work and talked about the extremes they encountered -- "so many jobs, lots of money, but no place to live."

"The place had a sentiment of the Wild West, a free-for-all, migration of the modern day pioneers," Clusiau told Time. "Places like McDonald’s were paying $15 an hour to start with a $500 signing bonus. I was intrigued, so I went there."

Clusaiu told the publication that it was important for her to understand why the workers made the move to North Dakota.

"Everyone I talked to spoke of hardship, loss of a job, foreclosure of their home, failure of relationships, of trying to help their families," she said.

See the short film "Black Rush Life" below (disclaimer: brief language).

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