Suds n Cinema, located in Fort Walton Beach, aired a documentary Sunday that echoed voices of those hit hardest by Hurricane Michael.
FORT WALTON BEACH — Two filmmakers hope their new documentary will raise awareness about the destructive power of hurricanes.
On Sunday, Suds n Cinema aired “Blue Tarps,” a 55-minue film that echoed the voices of those hit hardest by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. The screening was free and all donations and concession fees will benefit Innovative Charities, a Marianna group focused on helping people bounce back after the hurricane.
In July, while working on a side project, filmmakers Carrie Hunter and Austin Hermann decided to take “the scenic route” through areas hit by the storm. The two said they couldn’t believe what they saw.
“It looked like Godzilla walked through the area,” said Hermann, who added that they dropped everything and started reaching out to those affected by the storm. “We were just amazed by the amount of devastation still there.”
Many people interviewed for the film said they felt helpless. Others said it seemed like a reset button had been hit. All said they desperately needed more manpower and resources.
“Originally, (the film) was a human story just following the lives on the ground level, but as we started putting the movie together (it really became) kind of like a warning,” Hermann said. “When something like this happens to a community that’s not quite as well known, they just don’t bounce back as easily.”
Having went through “a bunch of hurricanes,” Giordano Tony Giordano, one of Suds n Cinema’s three owners, said that he was no stranger to the dangers of hurricanes.
Giordano said he was most concerned with how little national coverage the hurricane received and hoped a free screening would inspire more people to want to help in the future.
“Normally, we rent the place out for special events, but with this, since it was something about rebuilding our coast ... we said we would just donate the time to (Hunter and Hermann’s) cause, so (they) could get the word out,” he said.
For Valparaiso’s Jack Gardner, the movie was a chance for an inside look into “what life is really like for the folks that are still there.”
“I had a first-hand account of the aftermath of Hurricane Michael,” said Gardner, who added that he made four trips to the area following the storm. “I really saw the incredible devastation that was done.”
As a longtime resident, Gardner said it was the first time he’s visited the theater in “many years.” He was happy that the owners of the recently renovated cinema stepped up to host a good cause.
While many are still fighting to get back on their feet almost a year after Hurricane Michael, Hermann said “there’s definitely a lot of hope” in our eastern neighbors. Currently in its “rough draft,” the film eventually will be released on a streaming network.
“They’re bouncing back, but it’s a slow crawl,” he said.