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Ohio activist, film extra reflects on 'Promised Land' movie

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2013

Local Ohio Activist Shares Thoughts from Set of Promised Land


Cleveland, OH


On a humid, drizzly day this summer, Kari Matsko, Director of POGCO – People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative of Ohio – was outside Pittsburg playing a small crowd role for the Matt Damon/ John Krazinski film opening nationwide in January, "Promised Land." The film centers on the role Fracking (hydraulic fracturing of shale beds) is playing in small town America every day.

The set looked familiar to Matsko – a perfect, simplified rendition of small town, USA; a site she has seen hundreds of times in her travels over the past six years, talking about the realities Fracking.

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Kari Matsko, Director POGCO, on set with Matt Damon, co-writer with John Krasinski (The Office) of the movie, "Promised Land."


“It was powerful to watch these actors doing things I’d lived over and over these past few years. Standing in front of small town crowds, pointing to photos and documentation of energy accidents in communities, warning of the risks,” noted Matsko. “Although the film is not a documentary, its overall tone seems realistic and touches on important areas of energy that affect many people.”

The Gus Van Sant-directed film touched on several key aspects of the controversial practice of "fracking," or hydraulic fracturing of natural gas deposits in shale formations deep below the earth's surface. Matt Damon is aware of the resistance energy corporations have toward the film.

'Are we going to let somebody legislate from the other side of the state what can and can’t be done in our actual backyards?' ~ Matt Damon, in a Hollywood Reporter interview, on why Americans are resistant to corporations influencing decisions about shale drilling in small towns

"One thing [natural gas companies] are very worried about is decisions being made at the local level," Damon told The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere of "Promised Land" in New York in December. In the same interview, Damon notes that the biggest thing at stake, in his view, is democracy. "Democracy has been’s not about how [small-town Americans] vote, it’s about them taking the vote back," Damon observed.

On the last day of filming "Promised Land," Matsko made sure to thank both Damon and Krasinski for showing that the picture painted by industry of certain energy practices may not be as rosy as presented. “They appreciated that their insights leading to this film resonated with everyday Americans who have lived through” what the film depicts, Matsko added.


Promised Land releases everywhere Jan 4th, 2013. There is a group screening offering reduced rates on Jan 6th in northeast Ohio, click here for details to attend. (


Kari Matsko is Director of POGCO - The People's Oil and Gas Collaborative - Ohio. POGCO focuses on being a one-stop resource for information on matters involving oil and gas, including landowner and employee rights, public safety, and environmental protection. For more information, please email



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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.