Deep Time is director Noah Hutton's follow-up to Crude Independence, which was filmed at the beginning of the Bakken oil boom in western North Dakota in the summer of 2008. As a junior in college that year, Hutton read an article in the New York Times about several small towns that were experiencing the first waves of oil activity. He boarded a flight two days later and traveled around the state, eventually settling in Stanley, ND, where he filmed Crude Independence alongside producer Sam Howard and co-producer and sound recordist Sara Kendall. The film premiered at SXSW in 2009 and won Best Documentary Feature at the 2009 Oxford Film Festival, and was released on Netflix by The Orchard.
In the ensuing years, Hutton stayed in touch with the main subjects of the film, from whom he continued to hear about the escalating boom and the resulting changes in their lives. Apartments in Stanley were even more expensive than downtown New York City. Major spills were happening almost every week, many unreported. Drilling had been opened up in the nearby Fort Berthold Reservation, and the Tribal Government had to decide how much regulation to put in place and what to do with their surging fossil wealth.
Hutton returned to Stanley in 2013 to begin shooting a new film alongside sound recordist and co-producer Jesse Miller. Inspired by the geological concept of deep time and philosopher Timothy Morton's concept of Hyperobjects, the new film began to take shape above ground as well as in the layers beneath the surface: from the the fossil museum of Dickinson to the permafrost tunnel of Fairbanks, Alaska, and finally to NASA's CARVE Project-- a survey of carbon and methane emissions over the Arctic-- Deep Time expands the nearsighted narrative of a boomtown to include the uncanny and the ancient.