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Maverick Entertainment Group recently sat down with the director, producer, and writer of Trapped in Katrina, Patrick Marrero, to ask him some questions about the film and his personal connection to Hurricane Katrina.
Do you have any personal ties to New Orleans and/or Hurricane Katrina?
Marrero: I was born and raised in New Orleans and I was living in the city when the hurricane hit. My home was filled with twelve feet of water from the hurricane and everything I owned at the time was destroyed.
Where did the idea for Trapped in Katrina come from?
Marrero: My brother and I were both evacuated to Beaumont, Texas during Katrina and after two weeks of waiting, curiosity was getting the best of us, so we devised a plan to sneak back in. My brother is a doctor, so he told the national guardsmen that he had to get into the city to get some medical records. Our plan worked and as we drove in there was literally nothing around; no people, no pets, no birds, nothing. To top it off cell phone service was down, so you couldn’t make a call; that’s when it hit me, if our car broke down we would be stranded and have to spend the night in the city. That’s how I got the initial idea for the film.
Your film shines and eerie light on the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; was the city as desolate in real life?
Marrero: I don’t think I captured on film how desolate it really was and I don’t think anyone has. You could drive for miles and miles and not see or hear anyone or anything. I kept thinking that at some point the quiet would end and I would come up on a pocket of civilization, but it never ended. The devastation just continued and continued. It was really, really eerie and almost incomprehensible what the city was like directly following Katrina.
What were the challenges of creating a film that was centered around a real life disaster?
Marrero: The main challenge was scouting locations. When I began writing the film I was thinking locations wouldn’t be a problem because the city was so devastated and clean up would most likely be slow, but as we moved closer to production we started losing locations because clean up and rebuilding had started. We actually went into production almost two months earlier than we wanted to, because we had lost so many locations. As it turned out, I actually used my home as the main location for the film.
Where the images used at the beginning of the film real photos of homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina?
Marrero: Yes, the photos in the film are from the houses of my parents, my in-laws, and various other relatives. I had a lot of family affected by this disaster.
What is your favorite scene in the film?
Marrero: Wow, that’s good question. I could probably tell you the scenes that I don’t like more easily than picking a scene that I like the best. If I have to pick, I think the four-minute monologue by Jules (Brian Perry) is a good candidate. When Brian auditioned for the film he chose that scene to read and absolutely nailed it. Then when we were shooting, I wanted to do the scene in four different shots, but we did the close up shot first and it was so good that we didn’t even shoot the other angles.
How long did it take to make Trapped in Katrina?
Marrero: It took me almost a year to write and another year and a half to get it shot and edited. Principle photography was only about 10 days and then we had another 5 or so days of pickups and re-shoots. I was working another full time job while we were in post-production so finding time to edit the film caused a lot of delays.
The characters in the film are very well developed; are any of them modeled after someone you know?
Marrero: All the characters that I create are usually loosely based on somebody I know or have met. The characters in Trapped in Katrina have bits and pieces of people’s personalities that I know and how they reacted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Trapped in Katrina is available everywhere on DVD. Buy it, Rent it, or Queue it up today!