A feature film chronicling inspirational tales of radical self-reliance, communal effort and civic responsibility after epic disaster.
StormSurge is a feature-length documentary that celebrates the hope, strength, and self-determination it takes to build self-reliant and disaster resilient communities. Shot on location in Tuscaloosa, AL, New Orleans, LA, Joplin, MO, and Bay St. Louis, MS, the film follows storm chasers, fishermen, teachers, students, musicians, community activists, government officials, and others as they work to rebuild their communities after some of the deadliest and most destructive catastrophes in American history. Individually, their stories are captivating; collectively, they are the source of great inspiration.
Why make this film?
The idea for StormSurge came to me on day 44 of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Incident that killed 11 people, untold numbers of birds, mammals and marine life, and severely threatened the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people living along the Gulf Coast.
I worked in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, leaking nearly 12 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine waters of Alaska's Prince William Sound, and had first-hand experience with the challenges of clean-up. I also witnessed the fallout from the use of the chemical Corexit that was used to disperse the oil.
Having spent several years researching the effects oil and Corexit had on fishing and crabbing communities in SE Alaska, it was clear the Deepwater Horizon incident would have devastating long-term impacts on the already-struggling Gulf Coast. To see what communities in the region were planning to do to insulate themselves from the onslaught of oil, and the associated problems that come with clean-up efforts, I borrowed camera equipment and recruited 2 aspiring hip-hop artists (SOLOMON “DJ RAZPY SIMONE and MONTRELL DICKERSON) to serve as my volunteer production team.
Upon our arrival, we quickly discovered a clear disconnect between the stories being reported by the mainstream media and the actuality on the ground. Moreover, we became acutely aware of the fact that the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the Great Recession were still heavily at play along the Gulf Coast. We spent six weeks on the road investigating and making the connections between Katrina, the recession and the oil spill. We produced a low-budget, 20-minute short film that premiered for friends and fans at Seattle University. I also announced that a feature length version of StormSurge was in the works and that I was planning a return trip to the Gulf to chronicle more stories of survival and recovery.
On April 27, 2011, the relevancy of this project struck me personally as over 59 tornadoes struck my home state of Alabama, killing hundreds of people and causing billions of dollars in destruction. My hometown of Huntsville took a direct hit and my parents had a very close call. In fact, I was on the phone with my mother during the storm when the line went dead. It was four horrifying days until I was able to confirm they were alive and their house was still standing. Residents in other cities were not so lucky. The famed college football town of Tuscaloosa took the worst hit, as a twister one mile wide, 6-miles long, with wind speeds over 200mph tore through town, killing 53, damaging infrastructure, destroying nearly 2,500 homes and leaving thousands homeless.
As I was mobilizing my next production crew, which included Co-Producer NICOLE SOROCHAN and three student interns (ALYSSA PHILIPPS, HUY TRAN and THANH NGUYEN), the city of Joplin, MO, suffered a similar catastrophic disaster. On May 22, 2011, at 5:41pm, an EF5 tornado stuck the city, leaving a 13-mile long pathway of destruction in its wake. One-third of the city was flattened, over 8,000 structures destroyed, and 161 of its citizens were killed.
A host of questions resonate in light of these tragedies:
1. What's the best way to prepare for a disaster?
2. Are there “best practices” for creating disaster resilient communities?
3. What coping strategies do people use to effectively rebound from tragedy?
4. What are the long-term mental and physical effects on disaster-plagued communities?
5. How does an individual or community know when it’s fully recovered?
6. Will the Gulf Coast be able to heal?
7. Are there "Silver Linings" to each of these tragic events?
8. What additional lessons to be learned from narrative tales of others?
9. Can these major natural disasters be attributed to global climate change?
This year, with all of this in mind, I have returned to the region to document these stories of survival, resiliency and recovery, with a team of professional filmmakers – including Co-Producer B DAHLIA (Associate Producer/Production Manager – Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense), Cinematographer JOSHUA GUERCI (Director – Tommy Dean and Friends), and BEN COURTS (Sound Recordist). Collectively, we are committed to producing a first-class documentary that we, and the affected communities, can all be proud of.
To complete the final phase of production AND give us the momentum we need going into post-production, we need your help to raise $25,000 (approximately 10-percent of the total cost) to complete the film.
How does this Kickstarter thing work?
1. We have 30-days to raise $25,000 to complete the production phase of this film. If we don’t reach the goal, we receive no funds whatsoever. In the event this comes to pass, your credit/debit cards will not be charged.
2. We welcome all donations. Those that give at higher levels, however, will not only have the satisfaction of helping bring this film to life, they will also receive fabulous thank you gifts.
3. While we must reach our goal, overshooting it would be fantastic! Additional funds will enable us to get busy with post-production, as well as ramp up the marketing of the film as we seek a distribution partner.
4. These stories must be told! Hundreds of people living in disaster-riddled communities throughout the country have shared their inspirational stories. You are the key to making sure they are heard.
5. Our goal can only be reached through support from people like yourself. So please give!
And the funds go to….
Every penny (minus Kickstarter’s fees) will go directly into production. This includes meal, fuel, transportation, lodging, insurance, crew salaries, file conversion and editing software, upgrading and renting production equipment.
Do you really need this much money?
The short answer is, YES. To have high production values and reach a broad audience, this film will be shot in high definition (HD) and crewed by professional cinematographers, sound engineers and editors. Personnel are working for fractions of their regular rates, and in some instances for free, so long as their airfare and daily expenses (i.e., food, lodging, etc.) are covered. A feature-length documentary like this commissioned by a network would have a budget of over $500,000.
What happens if you get more than you asked for?
If we are lucky enough to raise more than the $25,000 we are currently crowdsourcing, we'll be able to move into the post-production phase of the project sooner, thereby increasing the chance that we can screen our film at one or more of the major documentary film festivals we are targeting in the Spring of 2013.
What are these “great” rewards you mentioned?
You can find a list of “Thank You” gifts on the right side of this screen.
Can I pass these on to someone else?
Absolutely! We have to contact you after our Kickstarter end date and we would be happy to send the gifts to your friends and family.
What if I decide to give more later?
Please feel welcome to do this at any point. You can adjust your gift at any point before the campaign’s closing date! To do this, go to Kickstarter and sign in. If you go to the campaign page, the green ‘Back This Project’ button will be replaced with a blue ‘Manage Your Donation’ button. Once you click that button, you may enter your new desired amount or choose a new gift.
When would I receive my rewards?
You will receive your rewards as soon as we can possibly package and send them out. For some rewards there may be a wait, as they need to be edited or printed while we are finishing the film. We will be in touch via email and you will be notified about your rewards as they become available. Of course, all incentives, big and small, will only happen if the $25,000 goal is met.
My company matches donations. Can you receive the matching funds?
Let’s talk! We would love to receive as many matching gifts as possible and this may require a more in-depth conversation. Please email us at info [at] stormsurgefilm [dot] com if this is the case!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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GOOD KARMA and project updates.Estimated delivery:
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A THANK YOU letter signed by the StormSurge Crew!Estimated delivery:
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You get a fashionable StormSurge WRISTBAND.Estimated delivery:
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Backers at this level will receive a WRISTBAND and will be featured in the "SPECIAL THANKS" credits at the StormSurgeFilm.com website. Domestic shipping included (add $10 for International).Estimated delivery:
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The first 200 Backers at the $40 level will receive a limited-edition, hand crafted StormSurge themed BASEBALL CAP. Domestic shipping included (add $10 for International).Estimated delivery:
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Anyone who contributes $100 will receive a limited edition StormSurge T-SHIRT and will be featured in the "SPECIAL THANKS" credits at the StormSurgeFilm.com website. Domestic shipping included (add $10 for International).Estimated delivery:
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Backers at this level will get a movie poster, signed by the Producer, Director and Crew. will be featured in the "SPECIAL THANKS” credits at the end of the film. Domestic shipping included (add $15 for International).Estimated delivery:
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Backers at this level will receive 1-autographed DVD of the film. Domestic shipping included (add $10 for International).Estimated delivery:
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Backers at $1,000 level will receive a signed spiral bound photo journal of the Crew in action producing the film and digital download of the StormSurge Soundtrack. Release date TBD. Domestic shipping included (add $15 for International).Estimated delivery:
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Backers at this level will receive a 3-hour personalized snowboard lesson from STACY NOLAND, an AASI certified instructor, at a premiere training facility near Seattle, WA, Winter 2012. All levels welcome. (Travel and accommodations not included).Estimated delivery:
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2 VIP Tickets to the Opening Night Premiere of the film and a project/script consultation on "YOUR" script or project with the filmmakers. Date and location TBD. (Travel and lodging not included). We will upgrade you to a ASSOCIATE PRODUCER credit (instead of other credits) in the feature length documentary.Estimated delivery:
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We will invite you and a guest to DINNER with the filmmakers in New Orleans, followed by a performance with acclaimed saxophonist and composer Donald Harrison, Jr. Location and date TBD. (Travel and lodging not included) and we will upgrade you to a CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit (instead of other credits) for the feature length documentary. You'll get 2 VIP Tickets to the Opening Night Premiere too.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)