“Promised Land” brings the fracking debate to the big screen this month and along with it a film role for CAPA freshman Cain Alexander.
Directed by Gus Van Sant and written by actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski (with an assist from Dave Eggers), the film tells the story of two gas company landmen (Damon and Frances McDormand) who are on the frontlines of securing gas leases from farmers and landowners in a small fictional town that happens to be Avonmore, Westmoreland County.
“Promised Land” drew 80 percent of its filming crew from Pittsburgh and employed 100 to 400 locals as extras.
Westmoreland County--Avonmore along with Apollo, Worthington and Slate Like in Armstrong County--serves as a backdrop for the story of the landmen who find themselves up against the environmental concerns of a community and a fiesty environmentalist (Krasinksi).
Alexander plays McDormand’s son in a scene, brief but poignant, that reveals her primary motivation in working for the gas company, the support of her son.
“Working with Frances was very inspirational,” says Alexander. “She is so down to earth, which made me very comfortable. My scene is a pivotal one, giving you a better look into her character.”
Alexander, 15, lives in Brookline. He credits his grandmother, who keeps him abreast of acting opportunities, with helping him land the role. After an initial audition in Pittsburgh, he was one of three actors who received a callback.
Earlier this year, the budding actor played a lead role in the Thoroughline Theatre Company premiere “Book of Tricks” by Mt. Lebanon playwright Alex Galatic. It was a challenging role playing a child who has Asperger’s Syndrome.
While Alexander feels the movie attempts to present both sides of the story, the gas industry has raised concerns about the film’s overall anti-fracking message.
(Note: The film actually offers more in the way of insight into how different people view and respond to gas drilling than debate the pros and cons of the industry.)
The Marcellus Shale Coalition announced this week that it has bought on-screen time in 75% of all movie theatres in Pennsylvania and will run a short piece before the movie asking viewers to read a recently created website, Learnaboutshale.org
, which presents the industry’s side of the story.
A public forum that shares “many sides of the issue from the environmental to the economic,” including the basic science behind the process, will also be presented at Mt. Lebanon Library by RiverQuest
on January 16, 2013.
Writer: Debra Smit
Source: Cain Alexander; Marcellus Shale Coalition, Mt. Lebanon Library