Marathon, Texas – 2023

Despite our acute awareness of the environmental harm of carbon omissions, there is something incongruously appealing about the early days of the oil industry. It is difficult to articulate the reason for the appeal, but perhaps it’s because we warm to pioneers and people who risk it all to follow their dream. Daniel Yergin’s 1992 Pulitzer winning book – The Prize – told the story of the petroleum industry from 1850 to 1990 and became so acclaimed that it was translated into 14 languages. In the 900-page classic there was enough insight to satisfy the scholar. But it was his narratives on the colourful personalities in the history of oil that captured the interest of the public. The further back in time, the more these protagonists played to the lore of early prospectors. The early days of oil were a treasure trove for storytellers.

Film makers such as Paul Anderson with There will be Blood and now Martin Scorsese with the highly anticipated Killers of the Flower Moon homed in on the nascent US oil production industry in the years before and after the First World War. Both films focus on the dangers of avarice and the merciless pursuit of wealth in thinly governed frontier towns.

Scorsese used my old Texas buddy – Ty Mitchell – as a most convincing bad guy in Killers of the Flower Moon and I knew I wanted him on this set – despite the fact his day rate has moved north now that he is known to work with Marty.

My plan was to use the base of the derrick in West Texas as a platform on which to play a parody of those early dirty days of wildcatting and I knew Ty would kill his look. He is as authentic as they get and we like authenticity. Meanwhile, I asked Texas local Roxanna Redfoot – who we regularly cast – if she minded getting soaked in oil, partly because I knew she would say “bring it on” . I needed the vignette to be elevated by the characters and not be just an action oil shot.

Sometimes a creative idea just comes together and works better than ever imagined. This is very much one and huge credit goes to those four Texans for what they went through for a photograph. It certainly has the wow factor.


LARGE: Edition of 12
  • Image Size: 56” x 86” in (93.98 x 218.4 cm)
  • Framed Image: 71” x 101” in (180.3 cm x 256.5 cm)
STANDARD: Edition of 12
  • Image Size: 37” x 57” in (93.98 x 144.8 cm)
  • Framed Image: 52” x 72” in (132.1 cm x 182.9 cm)

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