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‘The Great Invisible’ Premieres on Pivot and PBS’ Independent Lens Monday, April 20 at 10pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO — The first comprehensive overview of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its aftermath, The Great Invisible interweaves personal stories, insight from industry insiders, and news footage of the disaster and its aftermath, creating an intimate and emotional look at the people still haunted by the explosion long after the story has faded from the front page. Directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Margaret Brown and winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Award, The Great Invisible premieres both on Pivot, Participant Media’s television network, and PBS’ Independent Lens on the fifth anniversary of the disaster, Monday, April 20, 2015 at 10:00 PM ET (check local listings).

On April 20, 2010, a disastrous explosion took place on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil-drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The blast killed 11 of the rig’s 126 crewmembers and injured many more, setting off a fireball that could be seen 35 miles away. After two days ablaze, the Deepwater Horizon sank, causing the largest offshore oil spill in American history. The spill flowed unabated for almost three months, dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of oil in the ocean, shutting down the local fishing industry, polluting the fragile ecosystem, and raising serious questions about the safety of continued offshore drilling. 

Brown, a Mobile, Alabama native, traveled to small towns and cities across Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas to explore the lasting legacy of the disaster on the people of the region. Eyewitnesses provide first-hand accounts of the tragedy from the moment of the explosion to its still unfolding repercussions. The Great Invisible brings a new and unique perspective to the ongoing tension between the haves and the have-nots, exploring the crisis through the eyes of oil industry executives, survivors, and local residents who are left to pick up the pieces while the world moves on.

Today, five years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, many believe the crisis is over. Director Margaret Brown is not so sure. To her, the “great invisible” that gives the film its title is still out there — the unseen crude that sunk to the ocean floor, the unanswered questions about the consequences of oil consumption on a massive scale, and the forgotten people whose lives were forever changed by the disaster.

Visit The Great Invisible companion website (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/great-invisible/) which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker, preview clips, and more.

About the Participants (in alphabetical order)

Douglas Harold Brown, chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon and one of the rig’s original crewmembers, is a survivor of the explosion. A veteran of the oil industry with more than 20 years experience, Brown accompanied the Deepwater Horizon to the Gulf from South Korea, where it was built in 2001.

Robert L. Cavnar is a 30-plus-year veteran of the oil and gas industry and author of Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout.

Kenneth Feinberg is an attorney specializing in mediation and alternative dispute resolution who administered the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund.

Roosevelt Harris of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, runs the truck ministry for the Hemley Church Mobile Food Pantry and provides food, encouragement, and advice to people displaced by the disaster.

Keith Jones is a trial attorney and the father of Gordon Jones, one of the 11 men killed on the Deepwater Horizon. He donates his time to finding justice for the blast’s victims, as well instituting safeguards in the oil industry.

Latham Smith is a veteran oil industry tugboat captain hired to help with the cleanup effort.

Stephen Stone is a survivor of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. A workman who performed a variety of jobs on the rig, he was nearing the end of his three-week shift when the disaster occurred. Enduring an ordeal that lasted almost 24 hours, Stone has developed PTSD and is still awaiting a settlement.

About the Filmmaker

Margaret Brown is the producer and director of The Great Invisible, which premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, where it won the Documentary Competition’s Grand Jury Prize. She received the Truer Than Fiction Award at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards for her second documentary feature, The Order of Myths, which also received the 2010 Peabody Award and premiered on Independent Lens. Brown received the Cinematic Vision Award at the 2008 AFI Docs (formerly Silverdocs) film festival, the 2008 Grierson Youth Jury Award in England, and was nominated for four Cinema Eye Awards including Best Documentary and Best Director. Brown’s first feature was the acclaimed documentary Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received worldwide theatrical distribution. Brown is the recipient of a 2012 United States Artists Fellowship.




Produced and Directed by

Produced by



Margaret Brown

Jason Orans

Julie Goldman

Executive Producers


Jeff Skoll






Edited by


Original Music



Diane Weyermann

John Battsek

Jeffrey Peixoto

Adam Stone

Jody Lee Lipes

Robin Schwartz

Tyler Hubby

David Wingo


About Independent Lens


Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 PM. The acclaimed series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

For more visit pbs.org/independentlens. Join the conversation: facebook.com/independentlens and on Twitter @IndependentLens.


About Pivot


Pivot (http://www.Pivot.tv) is a television network from Participant Media with a diverse slate of original series, acquired programming, films and documentaries. Pivot focuses on entertainment that sparks conversation, inspires change and illuminates issues through engaging content and, through its affiliated website TakePart.com, connects audiences to a wealth of content and customizable actions. Pivot is available in over 47 million homes nationally via major television providers and offers authenticated subscribers a live and on-demand streaming option via its interactive, downloadable Pivot app. Follow Pivot on Twitter at @pivot_tv and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pivottelevision.

Participant Media (http://www.ParticipantMedia.com) is a global entertainment company founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll to focus on feature film, television, publishing, and digital content that inspires social change. Through its films, social action campaigns, digital network, and its television network, Participant seeks to entertain, encourage and empower every individual to take action.