Behind the Scenes of a Disaster

‘Tis the season to be indoors and cozy on the couch with a good movie, and I have just the one that will change your world… or at least change your perspective on disasters. Ever wonder what post-Katrina life was like for people in New Orleans? Want a glimpse into the life of an insurance claims adjuster?

Low and Behold

Image Credit: http://www.lowandbeholdmovie.com/

I am a huge indie film fan, so when I came across this one I was intrigued. But this film does the unexpected and portrays the raw, harsh reality of what disaster recovery really looks like. Filmmakers and friends, Zack Godshall (also the Director) and Barlow Jacobs (also the main character, Turner Stall) were directly affected by Katrina and decided the best way to process what they had been through was to make a movie. Low and Behold follows a new insurance claims adjuster as he learns the ropes and how to deal with the various people and realities of a post-disaster world. The movie was filmed 10 months after Katrina hit, but the images make it look like it had just happened…. a true testament to how long disasters can impact a community.

Barlow Jacobs took a job as a claims adjuster in Florida as research for his role in the film. There is some comedic relief in watching him fumble his way through the process and some moments that make you cringe to hear how this industry works. I have a friend who has worked in the insurance industry and confirmed that the movie’s depiction of the claims adjustment process was reasonably accurate.

The most significant aspect of this film for me was how it so accurately depicted the emotional impacts of a disaster. Disaster survivors’ reactions spanned the spectrum, from anger to denial, and you can understand why. For those who haven’t been impacted by a disaster, this film may be the closest you will ever come to being in their shoes. Both the filmmakers and the local production staff had damaged and destroyed homes, which makes you understand why this work of fiction is so realistic and personal.

Godshaw and Jacobs are quoted in an interview as saying they hope viewing the film will encourage compassion for Louisianans. We all pass judgments on people and situations we don’t really understand. Sometimes just seeing another perspective can have lasting impact. More compassion is never a bad thing.

~Heather Korth

 

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