The Kenton Lead Blob, Lead Poisoning Documentary

By Mikel Fair



Lead Poisoning Documentary About Oregon

The Kenton Lead Blob is a lead poisoning documentary by Zach Putnam, David MacKay and Richard Percy. This short documentary film is a 2017 Oregon Documentary Film Festival Official Selection. This film was also nominated for the Best Oregon Film Award on the Film Festival Circuit. Our audience was very intrigued about this film and the environmental impact it is having in Kenton, Oregon. Furthermore, I noticed several participants visiting The Kenton Lead Blob* official website for more information on their phones after the screening. Above all, it was one of the most informative films in our first Oregon Documentary Film Festival line-up. Watch the entire Lead Poisoning Documentary now!

Oregon Documentary Film Festival Promo Code




Synopsis: The Kenton Lead Blob Documentary Film

"When Zach saw a news article that suggested he was living in a hotspot of lead pollution, he took action. Connecting with his neighbors through social media, a community-led investigation began, with hopes of getting to the bottom of any causes and health risks that could be affecting them and their families. The surprising answers they found only raised more questions. This film was produced as a student project in the University of Oregon Master's in Multimedia Journalism program."




Interview With Zach Putnam, David MacKay and Richard Percy

Q1: First of all, why did you submit to the Oregon Documentary Film Festival? “Though this story is hyper local, I think it holds lessons that apply much more widely. So I'm always looking for more audiences to show it to. I felt that, as a showcase for documentary storytelling, the Oregon Documentary Film Festival seemed like a perfect fit.”

Q2: Is there any special meaning to the title? “The Kenton Lead Blob*" was the name my neighbors and I gave to this scary-looking hotspot on the lead contamination map. We found it published by the Oregonian newspaper. The asterisk we added later, after the nature of the "blob" became more clear.”

Q3: Why did you choose to tell this particular story? “I began researching this story out of pure self-interest when I first saw the hotspot map. As the story unfolded, it was so fascinating that I decided to document it with my co-producers.”

Q4: Did you discover certain story elements during the production of this film that you never expected to find in the planning stages of this project? “Everything in this story was a surprise for me. I hardly knew anything about lead contamination before I started, much less what could cause it.”


Q5: What camera(s) did you use to during the production of this film? Discuss any advantages or limitations that you may have run into, from an equipment perspective. “Mostly shot on Canon C100, with some Canon 70D.”

Q6: Did anything happen during the production of this film that was very interesting, but never made it on camera? “There are lots of things that we didn't squeeze into the final short doc, like our attempt at filing a FOIA request and lots more general info about lead poisoning and intrigue in the Kenton neighborhood.”

Q7: How did you fund this film? Did you use crowdfunding? Do you have pressure to recoup the production costs somehow? “We produced this short doc as graduate students in the University of Oregon Master's in Multimedia Journalism program, so we received support from UO in the form of equipment and the guidance of our faculty advisors.”

Q8: What kind of audience reaction are you getting to this film? “Portland International Raceway has announced new regulations on leaded fuel as a result of our investigation. Many of my neighbors are grateful for the light we shed on that situation. Despite being such a local story, I've been surprised how intriguing many people from all over the country have found our story. We even won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video Reporting.”

Q9: Do you have plans for a sequel or future film that you are working on? “The Forest Service just contacted me to tell me that they finally are going to come back and try to determine what caused the contaminated moss sample in the first place, so perhaps we will need to make a sequel about that.”

Q10: Finally, you have completed a documentary film, which is a huge achievement. Do you have any advice for a future filmmaker that is about to start a documentary project? “Above all, my advice is that you share your film as much as possible, the way that we have. I think too many filmmakers post their film online and hope it get discovered by an audience. I highly recommend submitting your film to media platforms, contests and festivals so it can be seen by as large an audience as possible. Be prepared for lots of rejections (and no replies) but that is normal I think. Finally, I feel like the point of all your hard work is for someone to watch it. So make sure to follow through on the distribution part of the equation.”


Mikel Fair

Mikel Fair

Mikel Fair My name is Mikel Fair. I am the Director of Film Festival Circuit Inc. First of all, we are a company that manages film festival events in Texas and Oregon. Furthermore, we like to have fun and celebrate independent film. I worked for 15 years in the television and film production as a location sound mixer and production manager. I have also worked in post production as an editor, post sound mixer and composer. Above all, watching independent films and reading creative screenplays is my passion.

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