A Filmmaker's 'Fields of Fuel'


Published on Reuters

Filmmaker Greg Reitman's first-hand account of the journey that led to his Sundance Award winning feature documentary, FIELDS OF FUEL.

Four years ago, I met environmentalist and filmmaker Josh Tickell at the Temecula Valley Film festival where we had both been invited to showcase our films. At the time, I had just finished my first documentary film "Hollywood’s Magical Island-Catalina," which won the Audience Award and was syndicated nationally on PBS. while Josh was finishing the festival tour of his short film, "The Veggie Van Voyage."

At the festival, we showcased and marketed our films together and began our friendship as I became truly amazed at Josh Tickell’s devotion to the environment and his cause towards cleaner energy. After twelve months of discussions about politics, family, religion, and, of course, the environment, Josh finally convinced me to join forces with him in producing the feature documentary film, ‘Fields of Fuel’:

I had no idea what I was getting involved with or the impact that this film would ultimately have worldwide. Over the next three years, we made numerous trips. Our first was to Portugal where we filmed the ‘Peak Oil’ Conference and interviewed experts like Colin Campbell and Mathew Simmons. These experts talked convincingly about Peak Oil and the reluctance of governments to accept this idea. I remember, in particular, Mathew Simmons' comment that, if the world were to understand that there was not enough oil to meet demand (Peak Oil), the resultant impact on the world's markets and the potential for escalating chaos could be exponential.

We flew from Portugal to Germany. The MAN Museum was a top priority, as Josh wanted to document the story of Rudolf Diesel and his diesel engine. Going through the archive and seeing the first diesel engine was electrifying. Even
more electrifying was the revelation that the engine was designed to run on vegetable oil,
– a fact which had been pushed under the rug.

When we returned to America, Josh was ready to take his historical Veggie Van (the subject of his short film) back on the road. We gathered our supplies and coordinated the trip so that each stop would allow for the van to run on biodiesel (i.e. used vegetable oil) and soon, we were on the road with the mission to meet and film the legendary music singer/songwriter Willie Nelson
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