"Spoiled" will have its first showings outside of Albuquerque on Oct. 11-13 in Farmington.
"There has been a string of films that have tried to portray oil and gas and other energy sources as bad," said Mark Mathis, the film's writer and director. "This is the first film that questions the premise."
The documentary is the latest entry in the ongoing public relations battle between supporters and opponents of oil and gas development.
Mathis acknowledges that some of the film's funding came from individuals with interests in the oil and gas industry. But he said he maintained the film's independence.
"I told these investors they would have no input in the content of the film," he said. "Some of the content they would like, some they might not."
The 90-minute film examines the debate surrounding energy development in the United States, particularly oil.
A former TV reporter in Albuquerque and other markets, Mathis attacks the idea that Americans' use of oil constitutes an addiction. He even shows a clip of George W. Bush saying "America is addicted to oil" during his presidency.
"Addiction is something that ruins your life," Mathis said. "Does oil ruin your life? Oil is your life."
In addition to driving, Americans use oil in many everyday products.
"The influence of these commodities on our daily lives are so embedded that we couldn't fathom what would happen if we even lost half of it, let alone all of it," Mathis said.
Mathis interviews several prominent supporters of oil and gas development, including Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Inhofe has been a vocal opponent of measures to combat global warming.
He also interviews Michael Economides, an energy analyst and petroleum engineering professor at the University of Houston, who spoke in August at the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico's annual conference.
Mathis said the film is not necessarily pro-industry.
"I would describe it as first, a pro-truth film," he said. "The truth is that fossil fuels are wonderful."
Some of the funding for "Spoiled" came from a Farmington investor whom Mathis declined to name. Mathis said the film cost "several hundred thousand dollars" but declined to be more specific.
"Spoiled" is likely to draw controversy. One YouTube user who commented on the film's two-minute trailer called it a "stupid propaganda puff piece."
Environmental groups who were contacted Friday said they could not comment on the film because they had not seen it.
Mathis said he expects opposition from environmentalists.
"They're very committed to their delusions," he said. "As the awareness of the film grows, we fully expect that people who are not fans of fossil fuels will line up to criticize the film."
The film is represented by the Albuquerque public relations firm D.W. Turner, which also represents BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal, BP America, Chevron and others with energy-industry ties.
"Spoiled" premiered in August at the Albuquerque Film Festival. It will open for its theatrical release in Farmington, followed by Artesia, Roswell and Hobbs on Oct. 25. In November, Mathis will take the film to Bakersfield and Santa Maria, Calif. Other showings are planned.
The Farmington screenings will be at 2:30, 5 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1113 at Allen 8 Theater, 1819 20th St.
Mathis said showing the film in oil and gas country first is part of the strategy.
"A lot of what we get into in the film is understood by audiences in cities like Farmington," he said. "Once we raise awareness for this film, we will then push into the more general market, which is really where we want to be."
John Byrom, president of DJ Simmons, a Farmington-based driller, said the oil and gas industry has become better at communicating after years of hoping it could be left alone to do its work.
"The industry has certainly woken up in general," he said.
Byrom said he has not seen "Spoiled," but planned to do so.
Mathis said he wants people to realize how much they benefit from energy development.
"We're not addicted; we're spoiled," he said. "We're spoiled by these resources like oil and natural gas that have given us this incredibly high quality of life."
Chuck Slothower: firstname.lastname@example.org