Alternative Spring Break
Cleaning up New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
In 2006 instead of partying I decided to participate in VCU’s Alternative Spring Break program. A group of about 20 of us from Richmond spent one week in New Orleans helping a volunteer group that stepped in to help clean up the Ninth Ward after it was ravished by Hurricane Katrina. I brought my mini DV camcorder with me and attempted to capture the experience.
A Time Capsule
I’m not sure this documentary does the best job telling a story, and in retrospect I really wish I had spent more time talking to the people and less time just kind of grabbing whatever. I didn’t even ask their names. This was my first real experience trying to record something of substance, and I’m afraid that like so many people starting out with video I made several rookie mistakes – hitting record too late and stopping it too soon – not focusing on anything and figuring out in post what I was making. I only grabbed snippets, which I cut together into something kind of emotionally moving, but only touching the surface of what it meant to actually be there.
I wasn’t very proud of this project for that reason, and so I never really showed anyone. That was a mistake, I think. So now almost 15 years later I uploaded it to youtube where it probably should have been all along.
Doing VS Documenting
One thing that has always bothered me (I and really think it shouldn’t) is that I got a hard time from several people on this trip who thought that I wasn’t helping out and was instead only filming things. It bothered me to be accused. For one thing, it wasn’t true. We were there for a week and I filled 14 hours worth of tape, which is a lot, but not the whole time. But mainly, it was upsetting that my peers didn’t view what I was doing as worth while. They didn’t see the potential in capturing and sharing this story and showing more people what we were doing. After all, “pics or it didn’t happen.” I suppose they weren’t envisioning what I was planning to make, and maybe didn’t think I was being sincere in my efforts. Whatever the case, the result was my filming less, and ultimately being less enthusiastic about sharing the final product. I really wish I had ignored those naysayers and recorded even more. And I wish I had shared this with the world video sooner.