A Place Called Home: Southeast TX Environmental Justice Documentary

Beaumont, Texas | Film Feature


Paige Prevost

1 Campaigns | California, United States

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This campaign raised $24,025 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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SETX is the bread and butter of the United States’ oil, gas, and petrochemical industry. Over the next few years, the industry is expanding further. Economically, great. But for an area known as “the Cancer Belt”, that brings more pollution and more health risks for a community already struggling.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

(1) assist in getting laws and legislation passed that further restricts emissions and leads to better health for the community, (2) show the nuance that exists in the choices we make as humans, (3) spotlight the unique culture/community of SETX and underscore that the loss of 1 person is 1 too many

The Story

In 1901, oil struck at the Spindletop field in Beaumont, TX. That Southeast Texas (SETX) strike ushered in the nation's oil boom and helped secure the United States' dominance in oil exporting. 

More than a quarter of America's total production occurs there. That production is increasing over the coming years with recently completed and upcoming expansions from ExxonMobil (completed, Beaumont), Chevron Phillips (ongoing, Orange), a Sempra and ConocoPhillips LNG facility (ongoing, Port Arthur), and an OCI and Linde blue ammonia facility (ongoing, Beaumont).

While some welcome the economic benefits that might come from increasing production, others have reason to worry: the current refineries and plants already release elevated amounts of carcinogens such as benzene, sulfur dioxide, and ethylene oxide, leading the EPA to rank the area as among the worst in the country for toxic emissions. Because of this, the area known to residents as “The Golden Triangle” (oil reference) has held other nicknames: “The Cancer Belt” (Texas Monthly article, 1981, 2003), “The Septic Triangle” (Texas Monthly article, 1980) and “Carcinogen Coast” (Bernie, 2011). 

For employees and city and political leaders, it’s difficult to critique the industry. Not only do the refineries and plants provide workers with top dollar jobs, they also donate to organizations, schools, neighborhoods, relief and disaster funds, create educational STEM initiatives for students who might not have seen themselves in a scientific field, help employees travel to and live in countries they might not have otherwise, and provide people with a sense of community.

A Place Called Home is focused on the interactions between the refineries/plants and people within The Golden Triangle - specifically, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Port Neches, Groves, Nederland, and Orange. It will follow Southeast Texans affected by the industry in different ways: former refinery workers turned environmental activists, residents dealing with the loss of loved ones, cancer patients in treatment or remission, people currently working in the industry, and others. 

Despite these hardships, there’s a lot more to a place and people than their struggles, and our film also aims to highlight the vibrant culture and community of the area, and how despite issues that might cause people to ask, "why don't they just move?", home is home. Warts and all.

The eyes of the world are upon us... In the past few months, the Golden Triangle has had visits from Jane Fonda, Pete Buttigieg, Jennifer Granholm (US Dept of Energy Secretary), Shalanda Baker (US Dept of Energy - Dir. of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity), and been the focal point for a study between various universities and the US Dept of Energy on how climate change and air pollution affects the area. As mentioned earlier, this all comes as the industry is expanding. What’ll win out: economic growth or improved health outcomes for everyone - and can you have both? What’s the future of this place called home?

A sample of some of the pros and cons of the industry as is


PRO: Pays $50m in local taxes and creates 1 in 7 jobs in Beaumont area, recently donated 100k to rebuild local park in Charlton Pollard neighborhood

CON: Beaumont plant releases at least 135 toxic chemicals and is regularly in noncompliance with the Clean Air Act, released over 400m lbs of pollution b/n 2000 and 2016

MOTIVA (North America's largest refinery)

PRO: Donated over $7m to Port Arthur in aid to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

CON: Released 118,100 lbs of pollutants into the air over a span of three days during Winter Storm Uri


PRO: Employees volunteer in community and fundraise for causes

CON: Responsible for 92% of Jefferson County's sulfur dioxide air pollution


PRO: TotalEnergies and BASF have hosted a "Match for Life" golf tournament for the past 20 years. The proceeds are donated to local orgs dedicated to health and cancer prevention.

CON: Released double the EPA benzene limit in 2021.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of everyone you’ll see in the film, here are some of our main Southeast Texans that we’ll be following: 


We’re getting cinematic up in here! The South has an inherent mystical quality to it, and we aim to capture that using anamorphic lenses during outside scenes. When we’re indoors with the community members we’re following, we’ll use a spherical lens to establish intimacy and encourage the audience to feel like they're at home too. We’ll rotate between static shots and handheld ones.

We’ll be using Sony cameras for the film, like the FX9 and FX30. 

(Images from our in-progress work sample - stay tuned! *very, very temp color*)


Southeast Texas has a lot of musical heavyweights, like Janis Joplin, Bun B & Pimp C, Barbara Lynn Ozen, and Edgar Winter. There’s also up-and-coming rappers like Teezo Touchdown and Big Jade. Although the film will have a more minimal soundscape and a traditional score by a composer, we'll also be incorporating the flavor of the region (Southern Rap, Country, Zydeco, etc) into the musical selection and will have a musical motif that is sung in different styles. Ex. “God Has Smiled on Me” by James Cleveland but various genres from local and indie artists. 

Both my grandparents have died from cancer. If you’re from the region and you’re reading this, I hope you got the chance to know Gene L. Perkins and Betty Ann Perkins. Because they were, equally, the best, and “they don’t make ‘em like the Perkins anymore.” This film is dedicated to them both.

MawMaw's Celebration of Life Video

I also have friends whose grandparents and parents are in active treatment, remission, or have passed away. We're losing people that we don't have to, and honestly, most of us don't even know the effects that we're dealing with. The refineries are background scenery, or just a job, to most of us. You don't know what you don't know, and it's also my hope for this film to help bring a wider awareness to the potential health effects.

We’re so thankful for the amount anyone can contribute, so thank you so much for taking the time to read this, to share it, and to donate!

Our total budget for the film is $219,456. Of that, we’re asking the community-at-small and community-at-large to help us raise at minimum $30,000, which gets us through our first round of production! Our first round of production includes:

  • 2 DPs,
  • a sound mixer,
  • housing and food for the crew,
  • travel costs, and
  • insurance and equipment rental costs.

If we exceed our goal, that’s fantastic! If you’re interested in being an equity investor instead of providing a regular donation, please reach out to us [email protected]. Also, if you’re interested in providing in-kind services as well, please let us know.

Amount Spent So Far: $10,825.54 (camera, sound, memory/storage, & lighting equipment)

Budget Breakdown:

Above-the-line (research, producers, traveling, housing, food for crew): $33,500

Below-the-line production (PA, lighting, camera, sound): $59,000

Below-the-line post (editing, music, sound, titles): $67,650

Below-the-line other (publicity + marketing, insurance, operational expenses): $49,475

Contingency: $9,831

Want to know a little bit more about the issue? Read on below.

(2023) A recent EIP report found that three Jefferson County plants were among the worst water polluters in the nation: ExxonMobil in Beaumont and Motiva and TotalEnergies in Port Arthur.

(2022) ProPublica's interactive cancer risk map found that the immediate area around Indorama/Huntsman in Port Neches has an estimated cancer risk of 1 in 53 and ExxonMobil of 1 in 2500

(2021) TX legislature rep Erin Zwiener introduced HB 1820, a bill meant to hold industrial polluters more accountable. It failed to pass; instead, an industry sponsored bill passed in its place.

(2021) Due to a loophole in the Clean Air Act, the William-Koch owned Oxbow plant in Port Arthur puts out 10x as much sulfur dioxide (22m lbs/yr) as its much larger neighbors

(2019) TPC in Port Neches had an explosion that could be felt up to 30mi away in nearby Beaumont and caused $153m in offsite property damage. Citizens evacuated and chemical fires burned for a month. (& 2023 - The U.S Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into this).

(2018) Refineries leaked between 1,880 and 28,500 lbs of benzene into the air during Hurricane Harvey

Jane Fonda and John Beard Jr in Port Arthur (Greenpeace USA) // Port Arthur

“Sentenced to Death: What It's Like Living in a Cancer Plagued Oil Town” (VICE) // Port Arthur

“A Legacy of Environmental Racism” (The Intercept) // Beaumont

“Tracking an Invisible Killer” (The Intercept) // Port Neches

“The Cancer Belt” (Texas Monthly) // The Golden Triangle

Thank you for reading our campaign and helping us bring this story to life! Please follow us on Seed & Spark and join our community and reach out directly here:





[email protected]


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.


Costs $15,000

To craft the look of the film!

Sound Mixer

Costs $3,750

Great sound is a must - as the saying goes, "People will forgive a bad image, but not bad sound."

Housing (doubling as production office), Food, and Travel

Costs $5,650

We want everyone that's part of the production to be comfortable, well-fed, and have an easy time traveling to and around SETX.

Equipment Rentals & Insurance

Costs $5,600

For production, we need various types of insurance to cover both equipment, crew, renting equipment, and the film.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Current Team