In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one could legitimately question whether or not the city of New Orleans would exist ten years later.
As we approach Katrina’s ten-year anniversary, however, the Crescent City is still here, and for filmmaker Mark Hoerner, its story of resilience is something that should be shared. He’s currently in the midst of producing a feature-length documentary, Subject to Change, that highlights the growth of the city since the storm through interviews with both local luminaries as well as everyday folks.
“Basically, it’s a story telling the universal principle of overcoming adversity,” says Hoerner, a native New Orleanian and third-year law student at Loyola.
“Whether it’s a storm, whether it’s the death of a family member, everybody’s got some kind of bad thing they go through or some kind of experience that’s a defining moment in their life that allows them to be who they are, that allows them to grow,” Hoerner says. “It’s how you respond to those moments in life that really defines your character, and I try to capture that with this film — from these peoples’ story, through the story of the city and its culture and its music.”
Music plays a key role in Subject to Change, Hoerner says, with some of the city’s greatest musicians — like Ernie Vincent, Chubby Carrier, Fats Domino and Lena Prima — providing songs and/or interviews.
Subject to Change is also one of the first documentaries filmed in New Orleans to use footage from drones. “I have them flying over the breach site of the Industrial Canal,” Hoerner says “So you’ll be able to see how it looks today with all the Make it Right homes with their solar panels, how it’s been rebuilt and how it looks today, because I’ve got aerial footage from right after the storm, so we’ll have some aerial before and after footage.”
The film is also partially a personal story for Hoerner, who was a senior at Holy Cross High School when Katrina made landfall. After relocating to California for a while, he moved back to New Orleans to finish out his senior year at Holy Cross.
“A lot of us came back to play football,” he said. “We were going to school in FEMA trailers, but I was back home with my family and my friends and my class. That’s how much New Orleans meant to me.”
While the documentary focuses on the progress made after Hurricane Katrina, it also remembers those who lost their lives, those who lost loved, as well as those who are still battling to improve their Katrina-torn lives.
Hoerner has experience on camera, but this is his first time behind the camera, he said. “Being my first official project, I have teamed up with New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC), to help guide my through the entire process.”
He also credits his crew of Ralph Madison, Hubie Vigreaux, Chris Brown, Nick Ramey, Hunter Thomas and Chase Rubin with helping make his vision a reality. “Both Nick and Hunter are students at NOCCA and have been a huge help throughout production,” said Hoerner.
With most of the interviews completed, Hoerner said they are beginning the editing process, which he estimated will take a few weeks. Then they’ll launch an Amazon Kickstarter campaign with NOVAC as fiscal sponsor to cover remaining post-production costs.
“There’s a lot more planned for the future,” says Hoerner. “Maybe a benefit concert, various festivals, show it at the Prytania Theater and hopefully get as much exposure as I can.
“To me, it’s more than a film,” Hoerner adds. “It’s a movement.”
For more information, visit the film’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1548233278752745/.