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BP Oil Spill documentarian: 'Gulf is a factory'

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The Gulf of Mexico is a factory. That’s according documentary filmmaker Margaret Brown who grew up in Mobile, Alabama.

Brown’s film “The Great Invisible,” explores the lingering impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster five years later. Eleven men died and more than 3 million barrels of crude spewed into the Gulf. Ferreting out the truth was a challenge for Brown whose 83 minute documentary airs today on PBS stations.

“It was almost a joke in the editing room when we were making the movie about where do you get your facts from because you’d look up a fact and it would have like four different things on the internet that said what the answer was,” Brown said. “How much was spilled? What had been paid out? It was very difficult to get at truth rather than just perception, or what people wanted to think was true.”

The Nature Conservancy’s Seth Blitch directs coastal and marine conservation, based in Baton Rouge. Blitch says the Gulf is remarkably resilient, but it could use a lot of help. One way is to realize how the choices we make upstream directly impact the Gulf.

“You make better decisions in your life if you know a place. I know everyone can’t get out to the Gulf and enjoy time on the beach somewhere,” Blitch said, who regularly is on the water surveying ongoing cleanup efforts. “If you’re in a place upstream from the Gulf, you know that your basin or river ultimately makes its way to the Gulf, and what you do where you live also matters to the Gulf. It can affect the way you think and the decisions you make.”

The Gulf is an economic machine. Tourism is a $20 billion industry in a region that supports a vast majority of the U.S.’s offshore and gas production. Brown says in the end “The Great Invisible” is about consumption.

“The real villain -- if there is a villain in this -- and I think there’s a lot of blame to go around, it’s really just how much we consume and how we don’t understand how we’re connected to this factory in the Gulf of Mexico,” Brown said.

“The Great Invisible” airs Monday, April 20 at 9:30 p.m. on Louisiana Public Broadcasting.

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