Great Invisible

Crew members, families, fishermen, and others still haunted by the Deepwater Horizon explosion provide first-hand accounts of their experience.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
April 20, 2015
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2015 Primetime Emmy Awards-Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2014 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW)-Grand Jury Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2014 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival-Nicholas School Environmental Award
  • Producer/Director

    Margaret Brown

    Margaret Brown is the producer and director of the acclaimed documentary, Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt, which was released in the United States by Palm Pictures and received worldwide theatrical distribution in 2005. Be Here to Love Me premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, was the opening night film at North America’s premier Show more documentary film festival, Full Frame and the closing night film at the Nashville Film Festival. Brown directed the music video Our Life is not a Movie or Maybe for Okkervil River and she produced Catpower’s Living Proof video, directed by Harmony Korine. She also produced Six Miles of Eight Feet, which won a Student Academy Award in 2000. Brown was the cinematographer for Ice Fishing, which received a special jury prize from Sundance in 2000; she received the Néstor Almendros Award for cinematography from the NYU graduate film program. The short film she directed while at NYU, 99 Threadwaxing, starred Justin Kirk and Heather Burns and was screened at film festivals across the country. She produced the narrative feature film Mi Amigo, released in 2006 by ThinkFilm and starring Josh Holloway of Lost. Brown earned her BA from Brown University in creative writing and her MFA in film from New York University. Show less

    Other ITVS Films
    The Order of Myths

    Jason Orans

    Gigantic Pictures is the New York-based independent production company run by Brian Devine, Jason Orans, and Jennifer Small. In addition to Cosmopolitan, Gigantic Pictures produced The Suitor for PBS, a narrative film based on a story by the Dominican American author Julia Alvarez. Additional productions include an adaptation of Bernard Malamud’s The First Seven Years Show more starring Israel Horovitz and Carol Kane, which was broadcast nationally on PBS; The Third Date, starring Sandra Bernhard, Xander Berkeley, and Sarah Clark, which premiered at the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival and played the 2003 London Film Festival; Drena De Niro’s documentary Girls and Dolls, which premiered on WNET; and Israel Horovitz’s autobiographical documentary about 9/11, Three Weeks After Paradise, which premiered on Bravo. Gigantic is currently in post-production on Satellite, a feature film by the writer/director Jeff Winner (You Are Here). Show less


    Pamela Ryan

    Pamela Ryan produces for Gigantic Pictures, a New York City-based feature film, documentary and television production company founded by producers Brian Devine and Jason Orans. Films in current and recent release include Boaz Yakin's thriller Boarding School (Momentum), Ramin Bahrani's documentary Blood Kin (Venice Film Festival Show more 2018), and the documentaries Frank Serpico (IFC/Sundance Selects) and Night School (Oscilloscope/PBS), currently in development as a scripted series with Leah Remini. Prior films include the music doc Heartworn Highways Revisited (FilmRise), SXSW Grand Prize Winner and Emmy Nominee The Great Invisible (PBS, Radius-TWC), 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (Sundance Documentary Competition), Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominee Night Catches Us (Magnolia) starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington; Dare (Sundance U.S. Narrative Competition) starring Emmy Rossum and Rooney Mara; and Ramin Bahrani's Independent Spirit nominated Goodbye Solo (Venice FIPRESCI Prize, Roadside Attractions) and Plastic Bag (Venice and Telluride Film Festivals). Show less

    We fund untold stories for public media.

    Learn more about funding opportunities with ITVS.

    The Film

    On April 20, 2010, communities throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States were devastated by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, a state-of-the-art, offshore oil rig operated by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. The blast killed 11 of 126 rig crewmembers and injured many more, setting off a fireball that was seen 35 miles away. After burning for two days, 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 into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean, shutting down the local fishing industry, polluting the fragile ecosystem, and raising serious questions about the safety of continued deep-water offshore drilling.

    Filmmaker Margaret Brown traveled to small towns and major cities across Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas to explore the fallout of the environmental disaster. Years later, Gulf state residents still haunted by the Deepwater Horizon explosion provide first-hand accounts of their ongoing experience, long after the story has faded from the front page.