The Accidental Detective

When film director Josh Fox got letters from energy companies offering him almost $100,000 to drill for natural gas on his land, he became a natural-gas detective.

Josh Fox     Photo: Photo by Jeff Lipsky. Styling by Michael Kucmeroski.

In the spring of 2008, when 38-year-old theater and film director JOSH FOX got letters from energy companies offering him almost $100,000 to drill for natural gas on his rural Pennsylvania land, he decided to look into the possible side effects himself. "Am I gonna become a natural-gas detective?" he asked. "I guess so." That decision led this engaging, banjo-playing filmmaker on an everyman's investigative journey from Dimock, Pennsylvania—where people living near wells reported dizzying headaches and suddenly hairless pets—to states like Wyoming and New Mexico, where the boom is biggest and the health scares are even worse. The resulting documentary, Gasland, produced by Fox's International WOW Company, is by turns horrifying and hilarious; it took the Special Jury Prize at Sundance last January and is slated for big-screen rollout this month.

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