Experiencing Interruptions?


A toxic waste incinerator threatens William Penn's historic community of Bucks County, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia as filmmaker Tom Smith examines his suburban environment's past, present and future.

  • Tom Smith
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Environment, Waste, Incineration
  • Runtime:
    46 minutes 24 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 19, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Full HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Tom Smith

A graduate of Ithaca College's Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Film, Photography and Visual Arts, Tom Smith originally intended to study drama at the small liberal arts school, but due to his experiences in local theatre, changed in favor of the - what he considers - more technical medium. These experiences began with a community troop of actors, the ActorsNET of Bucks County.
Here Tom had his first encounters with lighting and sound equipment and, perhaps most importantly, dramatic structure and performance. This intimate theatrical company instilled in him the necessity of craft in all endeavors - artistic or other - and is where he grew enamored with ‘doing what he could with what he had’. Along with a razor-edged professionalism, this frame of mind was combined with the pressure associated with meeting strict deadlines, which live performances are subject to. It was this insight that reassured Tom he would find success in the motion picture business.
After a year in school Tom had the opportunity to again learn from his community, this time in the discipline of Journalism. Shooting both photos and video of the events he covered in and around his area, those ideas of professionalism and technique were furthered with the documentary and social aspects of reporting.
While at IC he spent a total of four and a half months abroad in Italy and Spain studying Spanish and photography. There he took hundreds of photographs of the people and ways of life.
Fascinated with mythology and folklore, he seeks to produce films that explore the human condition. His influences and favorite filmmakers include, John Ford, The Brother’s Quay, David Lean and Paul Thomas Anderson.

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Director Statement

Beginning with the legacy of William Penn, this 45-minute documentary focuses on the industry inhabiting Bucks County’s Falls Township. It chronicles the efforts of Protect Our Water and Air (POWA), a newly formed local environmental group, campaigning against the ELCON toxic waste facility’s possible construction and, after analyzing the importance of political action, concludes by questioning area residents’ awareness.
Director and lifetime Falls Township resident Tom Smith produced the documentary after learning about the ELCON toxic facility’s proposal. Working closely with Protect Our Water and Air, Smith shot and edited the film over the course of nine months. "Our community is already facing the effects of serious pollution," says Smith. "The ELCON proposal forced me to realize that too few people in Lower Bucks County are aware of the environmental issues affecting our community’s health."
Raised in the Elderberry Pond section of Levittown, Smith has been exposed to Falls Township’s waste industry his entire life. Now a graduate of Ithaca College, NY, Smith holds a B.F.A. in Film, Photography and the Visual Arts. Smith says, “I’m so grateful I had the chance to use what I learned in film school to tell the incredible story of our area’s environmental condition.”
Smith believes there is an urgency in the message this film contains. “Making ​WASTE BUCKS​ was the right thing to do,” says Smith. “I cannot describe how disappointed I am to see how my home and that of Pennsylvania’s founder has been polluted.” Smith also thanks digital technology that allowed him to produce the film almost entirely on his own.