Fracking the System: Colorado's Oil and Gas Wars

Boulder, Colorado | Film Feature

Documentary, Drama

Brian Hedden

1 Campaigns | Colorado, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $30,280 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

312 supporters | followers

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In Colorado there has been a decades-long effort to regulate the oil and gas industry but they do everything they can to resist. When a proposed fracking well site goes from being built near a White school to behind a BIPOC school, a student's mother leads the fight to stop it.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

The system that is causing climate catastrophe is winning through a slow march of bureaucracy and exploiting marginalized people. When government fails us, the power of media and storytelling is our last hope to protect the people and the planet. This is a rallying cry for the next wave of activism.

The Story

Fracking is a technique for drilling for oil and methane (“natural”) gas which has been shown to pollute the air, poison the water table, and accelerate climate catastrophe. People living near fracking wells have higher rates of asthma, premature births, and some cancers. There are hundreds of thousands of active and abandoned fracking wells in the US, and the radical technique has been banned in many states including New York, Maryland, Vermont, Washington, and, by 2024, California. Colorado has been the home of a lot of fracking controversy, with a long history of government leaders closely tied to the oil industry.

When Trisha Nelson learns about the fracking site going in behind her son's school, she is in disbelief. She is even more shocked to discover it was moved to her BIPOC community from a predominantly White neighborhood after those parents protested. She joins the fight to stop the well and gets connected to the state-wide movement to push new wells further away from all communities.

When the fracking boom began in Colorado in the late 2000's, a group of concerned citizens began a movement to keep fracking away from their communities. That momentum eventually grew into a 2018 ballot initiative that earned over 1 million votes to restrict fracking. The film documents the oil and gas industry's unprecidented tactics to sabotage activists, intimidate voters, and spread election misinformation. These tactics are a harbinger for election battles to come.

As the climate justive movement continues to gain momentum, Fracking the System: Colorado’s Oil and Gas Wars reveals shocking and powerful lessons from the front lines of environmental activism over the last decade of activism in Colorado.


"I was in tears through most of it - such a beautiful and compelling story. Such a needed call to action at a time when the climate crisis has been made to feel so overwhelming that there's nothing we can do about it."
- Dan


"The film masterfully spotlights environmental racism at play, and viewers are left questioning the many systemic trends favoring corporate interests over public health, safety, and the environment."
- Deborah


"This is one of the most engaging documentaries I have ever seen."
- Henry




This film is about a lot more than fracking. It asks the question, "What can a citizen do in the face of government complicity with fossil fuel pollution?" And it answers the question, "What happens when you stand up to the government and big oil?" This story is miles deep and it touches the core of what it means to be concerned citizen in this time of environmental racism and climate collapse.

Fracking the System is an investigative political thriller, similar to Taxi to the Dark Side and Knock Down the House.


Fracking the System is an initiation into the lived experience of environmental activists. It tells the stories of ordinary citizens on a roller coaster journey to protect themselves from neighborhood drilling. And, it examines the systems of government and politics that allow the oil and gas industry to continue to extract and pollute, despite public outcry and scientific evidence of harm. It is essential viewing for those concerned about our climate and our government and wonder what we can do.

Why Contribute

The depth and quality of the stories we tell determines their impacts. As a feature-length documentary, Fracking the System depicts the personal stories of individual citizens-turned-activists and also tracks the waves of this political movement since 2011. This overview of political action serves as a revelation for those who are new to politics and activism. It demonstrates the constistant tactics of politicians to side with industry while paying lip service to voters.

With your help, this film can reach its potential to become a massive awakening for the millions of increasingly concerned citizens who don't know where to turn or how to get involved. This film is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation with the audience about how to get involved with activism and government to shift the trajectory of our society. By joining this campaign, you are contributing to and amplifying this conversation.

Fundraising Goal

Our safe crowdfunding goal is $30,000 because we must reach 80% of our goal to collect the funds. But a feature film is expensive so our ACTUAL CROWDFUNDING GOAL is $100,000. The funds will be used to elevate the film to achieve maximum quality and impact.

Safe Goal: $30,000 (from Wishlist tab at top-of-page) - the bare minimum to finish the film.
Editing: $10,000
Legal Fees: $10,000
Music Score: $10,000

Additional Reach Goal: + $70,000 - needed to maximize the film's quality and impact.
Polishing Editor: $20,000
High-Quality Graphic Treatment: $10,000
Colorist: $10,000
Sound Design and Engineering: $10,000
Marketing and Publicity: $10,000
Festival Submission and Travel: $5,000
Supporting Seed & Spark: $5,000


Timeline / Status

We currently have a very strong rough cut of the film and have been getting incredibly positive feedback from our preview audiences. They are moved to tears, outraged, and inspired to take immediate action. They have motivated us to double down on our investment in the film and raise it to the highest possible level so it can reach the widest audience, ideally via a major platform such as HBO or Netflix. It is deeply gratifying to realize we are sitting on so much potential success and it validates our faith that this story can impact so many hearts and minds.

With these new funds, we plan on finishing a highly polished version of the film by June, 2022, when we will begin submitting to festivals, seeking distribution, and taking the film on a community screening tour.


Letter from the Director

I began filming Fracking the System in 2017 on a gut impulse and sense of duty, after I met a Lakota elder who explained the harms of fracking. Driven by my devotion to the Earth and those who strive to protect her, I began filming the activists’ events.

On the fifth day of filming, at a non-violent protest where a student-activist locked himself to a bulldozer, I was charged by the police at the behest of the oil and gas company. Weeks later I was served a lawsuit from the same company, which they offered to drop in exchange for my footage and my email and text records with the activists. With the help of the ACLU, I negotiated a settlement in which I retained my right to journalist privilege (communication privacy) and to the footage. Despite those legal battles, I was determined to continued to film the activists’ controversial 2018 statewide ballot campaign and to create this documentary chronicling their 10-year struggle against neighborhood fracking.

I have loved living in Colorado for the last 7 years but it is not the pristine mountain haven that many believe it to be. In fact, it has some of the worst air quality in the country and is in some ways the epicenter of the political divide and a bellweather for national political trends. This story of the last decade in Colorado is the story of the next decade for many other states and communities.

I am deeply commited to completing this film and taking it on tour to share the lessons that have been learned with those who are called to help create climate justice.

Brian Hedden




Sample language for you to copy and paste: "Fracking the System is a powerful exposé from the front lines of climate justice activism. Help us reach our crowdfunding goal to finish the film and inspire the next generation of climate activists:"

Thank you for believing in this project and supporting us! We are so excited to show you the film!


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Legal Fees

Costs $10,000

Top-notch media lawyers will ensure the film is not exposed to oil industry lawsuits.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0


Costs $10,000

A polishing editor with fresh eyes on the film will make the most of the pacing and storytelling.

Original Score

Costs $10,000

A custom score will convey the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster.

About This Team

Brian Hedden - Producer/Director (

Brian graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has been a freelance filmmaker for over 7 years in San Diego, California and Boulder, Colorado. His work has primarily been documentary marketing for non-profits and ethically-driven businesses. He has been the primary filmmaker of Fracking the System: Colorado's Oil and Gas Wars, his first feature documentary, since 2017.

Doug Blush - Creative Producer

Doug Blush is an award-winning director, producer, editor, cinematographer and co-owner of Los Angeles-based MadPix Films. His credits include, as editor, the Oscar and ACE Eddie Award winning 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), as executive producer, the Oscar winning Period. End of Sentence. (2018) and, as consulting producer and editor, the Oscar winning Icarus (2017). Other credits include The Hunting Ground (2015) (editor and associate producer), The Invisible War (2012) (editor and associate producer), Skid Row Marathon (2017) (producer), Wordplay (2006) (editor), Superheroes (2011) (editor and executive producer), and over 100 feature and television documentary projects.

He has co-directed, with wife and film partner Lisa J. Klein, the feature documentary Of Two Minds (2012), and recently produced and shot The S Word (2017), both MadPix original films.


Current Team