The Film

SPILLING OVER is about family, and what happens when a family loses control. The story follows Kindra and David Arnesen, a commercial fishing family based in Venice, Louisiana, as they cope with the long-term effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

For 14 years, Kindra and David Arnesen built a viable commercial fishing business together in Venice, a fishing community in southwestern Louisiana that resides on the delicate marshes that cascade into the Gulf of Mexico. They have two children, Aleena and David. In April 2010, they were just about to move back into their house, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina five years prior. Then, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling outpost exploded, unleashing a deluge of oil into the Gulf for more than three months.

When the oil spill began, Kindra, a fiery and outspoken mother and fisherwoman, took to activism. Her husband David, a soft-spoken and hard-working fisherman, joined the Vessels of Opportunity program.

Over the past four years, every day has been an ongoing battle to reclaim their lives. Their fishing continues to decline to an almost 50-percent loss since 2011. Kindra’s activism has hemorrhaged thousands from their dwindling savings. They worry that they’ve allowed their immersion in the fishery and attachment to their home and community to justify staying when their instincts were telling them to leave. They have concerns about their health. They want to relocate, and they hoped they would receive enough money through the settlement to recoup their losses and restart their business elsewhere, but that plan is also quickly falling apart.

Through the Arnesens’ story, SPILLING OVER explores the impact of a man-made disaster of this proportion on a once stable family. The litigation has already dragged on for years and families are left to grapple with the stress and anxiety of an uncertain future. The Arnesens hoped that they could return to the life they once lived, and now they know they can’t.

Project Stage
Since May 2010, we have documented the lives of the Arnesen family, beginning during the very first weeks of the oil spill. We’ve followed Kindra to D.C., Baton Rouge, and New Orleans to meet with politicians and fellow activists. David has confided in us about his financial woes, depression, and deep-seeded worries about what his family’s future holds. Now, after years of small victories and devastating disappointments, uncertainty and the settlement battle, we’re with them as they plan their move away from their community. We will film with the Arnesens over the next year, during which time they hope to find a new home, most likely in Alabama.

The story has developed and changed immensely as we’ve trekked along with the Arnesens and the Gulf community through some tumultuous times, speckled with good memories and tender moments. We are honored that they allow us the privilege of documenting this journey.

Check back for updates, and in the meanwhile, check out our original edit of this story (published July, 2010 — before the Maconda well was capped and sealed).

Spilling Over from Powering a Nation on Vimeo.