Shot & Edited by Neil Brimelow in 2014, Total Annihilation: The Bay St. Louis Katrina Story features clips from news and movies to demonstrate the impact Hurricane Katrina had on the filmmaker’s hometown.
Filming took place over two days and original shots were done with a Canon T4i.
Total Annihilation was my first real film I shot in film school. It was shot over the course of two days and edited in two days in May 2014. Having lived in Bay St. Louis most of my life prior to Katrina, I moved back after Katrina and ended up working for the Katrina Cottage program for F.E.M.A./M.E.M.A. so I got to see a lot of different points of view and I heard a lot of stories about the storm.
With T.A. I wanted to reflect on how much had been accomplished since Bay St. Louis and Waveland had been “Totally Annihilated” by Katrina in 2005. I wanted to show some of the incredible footage of the surge in BSL and Waveland, something not many people outside the area have seen. The Longfellow apartments scene is probably the most striking as you assume that the flood has passed and the man’s carpet was wet, only to discover when he opens the door that he’s on the second floor and is totally surrounded by water.
Most importantly, I wanted to tackle the subject of Katrina with a more lighthearted approach, as we’ve already had enough doom and gloom to last ten lifetimes. I wanted to show the positive more than anything else. Yes, things were “Escape from New York”-bad. When finally, was able to move back to BSL in November 2005, I drove into Waveland and it was literally the foggiest I have ever seen the town. All I could see was scattered trash everywhere, and makeshift tents and tent cities. We were, for all intents and purposes, living in a post-apocalyptic world.
The documentary is mostly free of interviews. I could have gone around and interviewed “important” people in the town, but instead I chose the town’s Snoball vendor Paulie, and he summed up what Katrina was like better than anyone could have. I also wanted to show those people who had left and never have come back, and those people who left the area a long time ago what our town was like post-Katrina. We lost a lot of people in the storm, and after the storm.