Oil Men

Oil Men is the first film to share the story of Canada’s controversial oil sands through the lens of female characters.

Leanne Romanko, a young oil and gas chemist, has her conscience tested when she must decide between environment and economy, and what will hold the brightest future for the one she loves most.

Creative team

Writer/director: Samuel Larson
Producers: Samuel Larson, Julie Nolke

Filmmaker’s statement

To provide some context: this film takes place in Fort McMurray, Alberta, one of the most famous (and notorious) cities in Canada. It is the nerve centre of Canadian oil development, and the country’s poster child of environmental degradation.

It is a place famous for pollution and climate change but also for jobs, prosperity and for being the backbone of Canada’s economy. As someone born in Alberta who now lives in Toronto, I have empathy for both sides of the oil sands enigma.

In making this film I wanted to explore the complexities of working in a field that has such a defined and tangible set of benefits, and such a significant list of detriments. In the broader sense, I wanted to examine the political dichotomy that exists between the environment and the economy.

On a more personal level, the inspiration for this story comes from the generational experience of producer and lead actor Julie Nolke’s family. I think it adds something to the film to know that the characters are inspired by real people and their long tradition of truck driving. I am deeply proud of all of the performances in Oil Men, but I’m especially inspired by Julie’s performance that bravely portrayed more than a character – a real family member.

In Canada today, the lingering debate between the environment and the economy seems irreconcilable. With regards to these profound political questions, I hope our film, if anything, shows how complex these issues really are. However, my real ambition is that this film succeeds on a human level: showing a family in difficult circumstances trying to do the right thing.

About Samuel Larson

Samuel Larson

Born in 1990, Sam began experimenting as a filmmaker in grade school. With his roots in painting and drawing, he developed a unique visual style at a young age.

After finishing film school, Sam successfully started Oleander Films, a production company that has made a variety of documentary, web and narrative productions. He often draws his inspiration from local experiences and Canadian culture.

He has worked with companies like Tastemade, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.

Originally hailing from Alberta, Sam now calls Toronto home.

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