Tracking Money Flow in Tar Sands Towns

[This one might be insensitive, please call it out if you feel it is]

Context: Canada has had it’s share of boom and bust communities. Communities based on trapping, logging and mining have been whipped together and faded away in this country. They have their share of ups and downs, good aspects and bad.  This is happening again with the development of the tar sands. The tar sands are often touted as being essential for job creation, but what is it like to work there and how is the money that is being made flowing? It is hard to feel comfortable saying a “job” is inherently good simply because it is a job. That is unless the market is perfect at creating goodness, but accepting that seems like intentional blindness (and, on the flip side, being the judge of goodness is hubris).The documentary Oil Sands Karaoke seems to err on looking at the good side, and the futuristic documentary/game Fort McMoney, which comes out on Nov 25, 2013, could be really cool.

Idea: A documentary that looks at the flow of money through the tar sands towns. Tracking money flow to everything from food and flowers to alcohol and drugs purchases and more could be a focus. This is to try to give insight into how the money from the front lines of tar sands extraction is moving, being used, and shaping activities in the country. In particular, it may be interesting to try to travel with one of the group of women who supposedly tour the towns in the tar sands and make very large amounts of money as strippers in the the various male-dominant communities. This situation may not be much different from other boom-and-bust moments in history, but we’ve never been more able to capture the moment and understand it as part of our identity.


  • Confidentiality and/or anonymity for those in the film
  • Not perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes by filming and releasing this work
  • The film may become focused on the individuals and their actions and not on the larger situation that has created circumstances
  • Gaining access to the community would be difficult

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