One month after the devastating forces of Hurricane Ike ripped through the neighborhoods of our small island, we returned to Mr. Robert Weiss's film class at Galveston's Ball High School expecting to get back to work on the black-and-white silent films we were crafting before the storm hit. We were surprised to discover our new assignment: a documentary about Hurricane Ike’s effect on our community. Many of the students in our class, along with others in the student body, were dealing with the trauma of losing our own homes. We were being faced with fears of having to leave our school, our friends, and every last sense of security in our daily lives.
Our class banded together with other concerned and devoted students to form a collective union of filmmakers, poets, and musicians, calling ourselves “The Hurricane Story Tellers”. We set out to interview people in the community and witnessed individuals who were placing their neighbors before themselves. We had never seen the island come together in such a powerful way. Our people were determined to unite in an effort not to perish or fade away in the water that drowned our city.
Now, seven months after Hurricane Ike made landfall, the self-titled Hurricane Story Tellers bring you "IKE: A DOCUMENTARY - The Story of a Torn City Rebuilt by Everyday Heroes". Despite all of our tribulations, we have reconnected to commemorate our people. As the waves of destruction rolled back out to sea, taking our worldly belongings with them, the people of Galveston remained standing. They deserve to have their story told and we are determined to give back to our community.
All of our profits will be given back to the Galveston ISD Educational Foundation. We invite you to see through our eyes: "...a tale we would tell for years to come, for it would show our prosperity, it would show our fortitude, and it would show everything we could become...Because when the sun rises, so do our people. Because when the sun rises, so does our future. Because when the sun rises, my tale is told."*
*Excerpt from BHS Student Mamie Aoughsten's Essay: "The Tales of An Island" - (Full Essay Available in PRESS KIT)
ROBERT WEISS (Executive Producer and BHS Film & Art Class Instructor) is a native Galvestonian. He attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual art in Dallas before moving to Baltimore Maryland where he received a degree in Printmaking and Book Arts from Maryland Institute College
of art. During his time in college Mr. Weiss was highly involved in theater, painting, and drawing, and simultaneously formed a tight confederation of artists, performers, and musicians called “The Modern Plow Collective”. The Collective creates paintings, drawings, films, and performance pieces on the stage as well as painting animations for the silver screen. During the spring and summers, Mr. Weiss is deeply involved in numerous agriculture and permaculture projects throughout east Texas. Mr. Weiss came to Ball High School in 2006 as the Advanced Placement Visual Arts Instructor. This is his first year instructing the Advanced Placement Media and Technology Class. He is deeply indebted to the students who have worked so hard on this project, and the resilient people of this community who have worked tirelessly to bring this city back. Mr. Weiss has made a life-long commitment to education and the arts and encourages all of his students, friends, and family to reach their creative potential wherever life may take them.
MAMIE AOUGHSTEN (Narration and Essay) is a 16-year old junior and a self-proclaimed nerd. A perfectionist at heart, Mamie is an author, poet, and avid reader. Ambitious and driven, she never stops- constantly participating in school and community activities. Though tone deaf, Mamie loves to belt out random songs at the top of her lungs. Her sarcastic tendencies paired with her love of shock appeal often lead her into funny situations; unfortunately she is a slow runner. On the upside she would like to thank her family and her ex-English teacher, Mrs. Jackson, may the force be with you.
AUSTIN ALMANZA (Marketing & Research) is a 17-year old junior who loves to watch movies and listen to music. He is passionate about ceramics and helping to make the student film "IKE: A DOCUMENTARY." Having wanted to make a movie since he was young, this is his big break. However, this hasn't been completely easy for Austin. After arriving on the island after Ike, he lived in his grandmother’s home with no electricity or water. After unpacking what was left his life, which was merely a handful of possessions, he went to see his house, which was horrible, wet, soggy, and moldy. Ever since the class decided to make a film chronicling the accomplishments and hardships of our island, he believes that his community's hardships can finally be understood. "After Ike destroyed his home, he felt a huge void in his life ... This filming process has finally filled that void in his life. Austin wishes to thank his family and teachers.
CHRISTIAN DIERLAM (Cinematographer) is am a ninth grader at Ball High School and a native Galvestonian. In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games, surfing the web, playing on the beach, fishing, and playing with his two Quaker Parrots - Cisco and Poncho. Christian dreams of one day becoming a video game designer. He was eager to tackle the documentary assignment given by Mr. Weiss in his Media Tech Class following the storm, and quickly picked up a camera to begin filming the aftermath of Ike. He is very excited to see their film come to life on the big screen. Christian thanks his parents, Mr. Weiss, Aaron Weiss, and Heather Weiss for their support in creating this film.
WILLIAM GOMEZ (Cinematographer / Editor) is an 18-year-old international observer and a BHS Junior with a long-time interest in film and a strong opinion about current affairs. When he’s not working on the documentary, he can be found playing video games, hanging with his friends, and lending a helping hand to his community. At school, William exceeds in History, Science, and of course Media Tech. He views filmmaking as much more than a hobby – to him, it is a way of life. The art of film holds a special place in William’s heart and continues to affect his outlook on life. He began capturing footage on a VHS camcorder at the age of nine and has continued to make movies with both humorous and serious matter ever since. William is very happy to be a part of this film and believes that this documentary will be uplifting for the community and hopes to inspire the people of Galveston with the students’ message. Thanks to friends, family, and fellow “Story Tellers” for their constant support.
RAFAEL LAZO (Camera Operator #1) is a 17- year old Junior who loves to be behind the camera. Rafael has only recently become involved in filmmaking. When not operating the camera for “IKE: A DOCUMENTARY”, he can be found filming at the BHS basketball games and hopes to one day work for ESPN. Skim boarding, surfing, and watching ESPN are some of the ways he spends time relaxing after a long day at school. Rafael also loves to play sports such as volleyball, basketball, and baseball.
NATALIE MARTIN (Cinematographer) is an 18-year old senior at Ball High School who loves to act and sing. Natalie has been extensively involved in her church throughout her life, which is where her love of music and singing first blossomed. Natalie, being the bold beauty that she is, has been singing and performing for large crowds throughout her life. She also enjoys writing, public speaking, riding her bike, hanging out with friends, sunbathing, and meeting new people. As she has lived on Galveston Island for most of her life, having the opportunity to help bring Galveston’s story to the surface with “IKE: A DOCUMENTARY”, is an honor. Natalie stayed on the island for the storm and was able to capture her first-hand experience on tape. She’d like to thank her loud and supportive family and friends for being loud and supportive. O:-)
MELNIKIA SAFARI LOUISE SMITH (Cinematographer) is a 15-year-old freshman who loves going to school, making new friends, and enjoys her life. She is a smart, fun, self-motivated, radiant young lady who believes in taking risks. Following her struggle through the hurricane and afterwards living a shelter, she was introduced to “IKE: A DOCUMENTARY” where her life was turned around. Through this documentary she learned how the storm affected others in the community.. She would like to thank her parents, friends, Mr. Weiss, Heather Weiss, Aaron Weiss, and the rest of the “Hurricane Story Tellers” who supported her through this very challenging time.
JOVANNA DAVIA TORRES (Marketing & Research) is an 18 year old senior. She is a creative spirit who enjoys vintage-era music/movies she also enjoys painting,sketching and designing. She can succeed in whatever she puts her mind to with a dash of soy sauce with her sushi. Family and friends are very important to her and she values the time spent with them. Jovanna is an accomplished marketing & research associate on this project and is very enthused about the opportunity to be a part of the making of IKE: A DOCUMENTARY. Being a part of this documentary has been an empowering experience and has given Jovanna an outlet to express her inmost feelings towards her fellow islanders and their struggles "mother nature's tribulations". Thanks to Mr.Weiss, Weiss Cubed, fellow students involved in the making of this film, Mom, Mary Jane for guidance, Yvette and Roger Ruiz, The Pena’s Gerry and Anitra Uncle Joe and Aunt Vikki for their continued support, and friends. She hopes that everyone enjoys the film as much as it has captured her in par taking a role in it. Thanks to God for allowing the opportunity.
JENNIFER WILLCUT (Lead Interviewer) is a self-admitted movie addict and aspiring filmmaker who enjoys listening to Nine Inch Nails, Evanescence, and Red Hot Chili Pepper. Her directorial idols are Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Sofia Coppola, Spike Lee, Tim Burton, and the Coen Brothers coupled with a long list of acting inspirations which can all be found on her Myspace page: myspace.com/littlebit122090. Hobbies include getting creative with anything at all, reading and writing, driving to nowhere, and spending time with her family and hanging out with her close friends Beth, Blake, and Kayla. She dreams of hitting the big-time and intends to use her success to create a fund that will support student filmmakers who are creating life-changing movies as well as a nation-wide support system for gay teens lacking support from their family. Jennifer admires her idol, Amelia Earhart, for her mission to take the women's movement to new heights and follow her goals. Special thanks to friends and family for their continued support and for their willingness to catch her if ever she should fail. "Decide... whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, then stop worrying." – A. Earhart
HEATHER J. WEISS (Producer & Student Mentor) is a native Galvestonian and BHS Alum, now residing and working in NYC. Heather has penned a career as a Broadway Stage Manager and documentary film Co-Producer of One Story Productions -- with cousin and Founder, Aaron Weiss – which is a documentary production company that creates promotional videos for charitable organizations: www.onestoryproductions.com. She is also employed by numerous events for Broadway Cares –Equity Fights AIDS and acts as a Development Associate for Artists Striving to End Poverty (A.S.T.E.P.): www.asteponline.org. Heather holds a BFA in Stage Management from North Carolina School of the Arts.
AARON WEISS (Producer & Student Mentor) has a background in documentary film/video production and post-production and has worked under documentary directors from within major New York City production companies and has been a part of all phases of filmmaking, from development to distribution. He is a graduate of The New School University in New York City, with a Bachelor’s in Media Studies. He has founded a NYC based production company, One Story Productions, which produces documentary promotional films for non-profit organizations. The films that have been produced thus far have all related to children’s education and development. His involvement with The Ball High Students has been based around instructing proper interviewing skills, camera operating techniques and post-production editing on the Ike: A Documentary.