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Crude Independence

Byron Dorgan , John Warberg , Noah Hutton  |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Crude Independence
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Product Details

  • Actors: Byron Dorgan, John Warberg
  • Directors: Noah Hutton
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Couple 3 Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2009
  • Run Time: 71 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002ONG4KQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,973 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Crude Independence is a documentary film about the heartland in the process of transplanting itself, and the new heart is pumping oil. In 2006, the United States Geological Survey estimated there to be more than 200 billion barrels of crude oil resting in a previously unreachable formation beneath western North Dakota. With the advent of new drilling technologies, oil companies from far and wide descended on small towns across the state with men and machinery in tow. Director Noah Hutton takes us to the town of Stanley (population 1300), sitting atop the largest oil discovery in the history of the North American continent, and captures the change wrought by the unprecedented boom in the years since the discovery. Through revealing interviews and breathtaking imagery of the northern plains, Crude Independence is a rumination on the future of small town America: a tale of change at the hands of the global energy market and America's unyielding thirst for oil.

The film was an official selection at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival and won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2009 Oxford Film Festival.

DVD includes a twenty minute behind-the-scenes piece featuring interviews with director Noah Hutton and co-editor Alex Footman, as well as director's commentary and the original theatrical trailer.


Crude Independence is a documentary about Stanley, a small town in North Dakota that receives a complete transformation when it is discovered that 200 billion barrels of oil lie underneath it. The film is told only from the perspective of the residents and the roughnecks who came to the town to drill.

I was anticipating there to be some kind of slant, likely against the giant oil companies coming in and harvesting oil. And when I didn't get that, I have to admit I was slightly disappointed. However, first time director Noah Hutton explained that he purposefully didn't use narration and let the town tell its own story. Once I realized this was the case and that it wasn't his intention to make anyone look like the bad guy, it actually changed my perspective of the film.

I began to appreciate the story that was woven from footage and interviews taken last summer. The glimpses of Americana in this film are very touching. This film gets the chance to answer a very interesting question- what happens in the modern age when someone strikes oil on their property? The results range from one gentleman that is thinking of going elk hunting, a childhood dream, to another interviewee who has hand built his own mansion, complete with an indoor waterfall.

In a day and age when every documentary that releases has some sort of slant, it is refreshing to see one borne only out of its subjects. I know that with any editing process there is an argument being made. But Crude Independence manages to straddle that line better than any film in recent memory. I am confident that of all the independent features and documentaries I have seen at SXSW 2009, you are likely to have the best chance of seeing this one at a theater near you. --Media Breach 2009 SXSW Review

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Extremely slow May 21, 2014
By Tuan Vu
Format:Amazon Instant Video
This documentary was extremely slow with eerie and kind of melancholy music throughout. It creates a very down atmosphere. I think the makers of the film had it in mind that they would show how finding a wealth of oil would bring bad consequences.

I would have like to have learned more of the details of shale and the technology to extract it and the macro side of things. This film focuses on the micro aspect of how life is changed for this small community.

Really not a bad documentary, but at the same time, not a whole lot you wouldn't guess before seeing it. More information and research would have made the documentary better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crude Independence April 24, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video
Engaging personalities and a lifestyle that is threatened by the invasion of petroleum drilling into their tranquil farmland. I would like to see an updated version as this was made in 2009.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stanley, North Dakota Modern Day Oil Boom December 5, 2012
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
I like documentaries and found this one informative.
And it's interesting to see real people, some with mineral rights and some not,
and how they view their situation.​
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and insightful July 10, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Crude Independence" is a short, simple documentary by Noah Hutton. He, and two other friends/producers, spent 5 weeks in ND filming the changes in a small town hit by the oil boom. The most interesting thing is that there is no opinion presented. It is a "just the facts" documentary presented by the people affected. As intersting as the documentary is the comments by the editor and the director. I was impressed by how sensitive and insightful this was when you consider the youth of those filming and producing the documentary. It would have been easy to ridicule a small town and those who live there but I didn't feel that at all. I'm only puzzled by the lack of coverage this has been given in North Dakota. I'm glad I purchased it and I intend to share it with others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It could have been done better. January 16, 2014
Format:Amazon Instant Video
I don't thing this documentary did a very good job of what it set out to do, which I believe was to show the social effects of (shale?) oil discovery and recovery in a small basically agricultural, community. I thought it was disjointed and therefore slow. It gave no interesting introductory background on the participants . I was left guessing by some of the comments made by the various characters as it was all one way narrative, no questions asked, or background comment given.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars crude independence April 19, 2014
Format:Amazon Instant Video
Fairly accurate account of what takes place in any community due to the oil boom. It was not partial to any particular point of view. This is exactly what happens when the oil industry comes in...some benefit and some don't. It all depends on whether or not one owns the mineral rights on the property. It certainly changes the cosmetics of the landscape. I thought it to be very interesting... right down to interviews of the workers on the rigs themselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Amazon Instant Video
My Family on my Father's side grew up in and around Stanley, ND. We lived in and around this area for many years. I now live in Illinois, but go back to visit family and this film reminds me why it's a sad problem with our dependence on oil. It is a pretty well done documentary, and does a decent job portraying small town oil booms. I even seen a few folks our family knew.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Amazon Instant Video
The biggest thing I learned is that if you buy land to live on or own, make sure you buy the mineral rights if there is a high probability that there is something of substantial value down below. Interesting to watch a small town grow too big because of profit, not always a good thing in my opinion.
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