The following is an excerpt from John A. Duvall's book, The Environmental Documentary: Cinema Activism in the 21st Century. The book may be purchased online here at Amazon.com.
"Crude Impact is an astonishingly good film, especially for a novice producer/director, a fine example of the straightforward, classical style of expository documentary filmmaking. Wood's inspiration for making the film was a trip to the Ecuadoran rainforest as part of a group from the Pachamama Alliance, an activist organization that creates partnerships between people from industrial nations and indigenous peoples for the purposes of pursuing environmental sustainability and social justice. He was shocked and incensed to witness the hardships suffered by the people of the forests from the abuse of their lands by oil companies and the Ecuadoran government [...].
On returning to the United States, Wood read several books about the oil industry. He had no experience as a filmmaker, but he wanted to tell the world about what he had learned, and saw film as the best medium for reaching the widest audience. Initially he planned to make a film about Ecuador, but ultimately chose to pursue a wider vision of the place of oil in modern society, with a particular focus on the impacts of climate change and peak oil [...].
To prepare for directing the film, Wood immersed himself in an in-depth analysis of famous documentaries in much the way as Orson Welles had prepared for Citizen Kane. He timed shots out by the second, deconstructing the narratives and editing patterns, until he had developed his own vision of a filmic style. He shot and edited for a somewhat leisurely pace, allowing viewers to linger on images, avoiding what he calls the "MTV feel" to ensure that the film conveyed both a thoughtful and emotional tenor.
Wood's primary crew’s cinematographer -- Sharon Anderson and sound designer Pamela Spitzer -- were equally new to feature filmmaking, though they had experience in television production. The selection of shots, the use of creative animation to convey statistical information, the excellent narration by Natalia Bortolotti, the subtle musical score by John Deborde, the interweaving of stock footage with original interviews -- everything about the film is polished and professional, with a clear and comprehensive narrative and aesthetically pleasing photography and editing. Wood managed to obtain interviews with the authors of a few of the books he had read, among them some of the earliest writers to alert to public of the threat of peak oil: Richard Heinberg (The Party's Over), Thom Hartmann (The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight), and Matthew Simmons (Twilight in the Desert). He won these experts over for interviews by displaying his familiarity with their writings and the issues at stake."