FrackNation, a documentary focused on the controversy surrounding the process of hydraulic fracturing, known as "fracking," which is a key process in extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, is holding screenings across northeastern Pennsylvania, the first of which was held Friday night in Scranton.

The film follows Phelim McAleer, director and journalist, across state and even international borders in his mission to shed light on hydraulic fracturing and debunk the claims of another documentary, Gasland, directed by Josh Fox, which depicts the process as potentially a highly dangerous process that threatens the water and health of local residents.

"The idea for the film started at an event that I attended in which Josh Fox was speaking," McAleer said. "I had asked him how hydraulic fracturing could had caused methane in the local groundwater when there were cases of that happening long before fracturing occurred in the area. His response was that it was not relevant.

"I posted the recording of his response on Youtube," he continued. "And Fox soon consulted his lawyers and had it removed, and that was when I knew that I needed to find out the whole story."

Funding for the documentary came from the website known as Kickstarter, which allows private citizens to pledge funds to the development of a project of their choice. According to its website, the resource is only a platform and is not involved in any of the projects posted.

"It's a new way to fund documentaries," McAleer said. "It was a great idea and it also gave us the opportunity to make sure people were interested in what we wanted to do. Approximately $212,000 was pledged to our project, which was one of the most successful campaigns of Kickstarter and showed us that people really cared about what we were trying to do."

FrackNation has also received attention internationally as the gas beneath the Marcellus Shale has the potential to affect the energy market on a global scale.

"We've received a lot of interest in countries like Canada, United Kingdom, Poland and more," McAleer said.

As for the future of FrackNation, McAleer said that he expects to hold more screenings for the film.

"We'll probably hold a lot more screenings on a local level," he said. "Additionally, Gasland 2 could very well be in the works, and that will definitely be interesting from our perspective as I'm sure people will want to learn the truth about that as well."

McAleer has been a journalist since the early 1990s, where he started in northern Ireland. He then began making documentaries in Eastern Europe before becoming involved with environmental documentaries.

"I've been to places like Vietnam, Russia, Chile, Madagascar and more," he said. "I've seen these other environmental controversies up close. There are large environmental groups that have shareholders just like big business. Why not treat them like big business as well and have them face the same difficult questions?"

In addition to the screening held in Scranton, other screenings of FrackNation will be held April 6 at 11:30 a.m. and April 7 at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Cinema 6 in Honesdale, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Montrose Theater in Montrose, April 10 at 7 p.m. at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Philadelphia and April 11 at 7 p.m. at the Indiana Theater in Indiana, Pa.

Johnny Williams can be reached at (570) 265-1639; email: