E. Buckles on Katrina Babies and New Orleans Grit
Edward Buckles is from the West Bank of New Orleans, Gretna to be exact. His family roots are uptown and right now he lives in the 7th Ward. Buckles is New Orleans through and through.
It’s really good to sit down. Been following you for a while and have a great respect for all that you do. What’s your background?
I guess what all got me started was the interest in storytelling. I started off with a background in theater. So I was a hard theater-head – I would be in the theater all day at school or at Anthony Bean Theater uptown.
What age were you when you started? How did that evolve?
I started theater at 13. No – 14. But I would always be performing at my house. Every New Years, when I was mad young, I would get all my cousins together and host these live performances and perform DMX and stuff like that just for the family. I didn’t think that would become anything. I started off with acting, and that got me started with filmmaking…
I couldn’t really find anybody or rely on anybody to shoot the scripts that I had. But my friend Ciel Rouge had a camera and let me borrow it. After a year of shooting my own short projects, I changed my major to film and ever since then I learned more about the business side. That’s one thing that school taught me – just learning about networking and stuff like that. Then I learned the film talk because I interned on some mad projects – when the tax incentives were here and shit like that…best one I did was Spike Lee. I interned on Spike Lee’s Oldboy.
I learned so much on that project, and that shit just inspired me like crazy because growing up Spike Lee is one of those people that, I guess for black filmmakers, you had to look up to. He’s one of the pioneers of black cinema. Spike created a whole fashion and style through his films. And that’s what we wanna do.
Following that, I graduated. My senior year of college I started working on my first feature film, Katrina Babies, and that’s what people kinda know me from now.
Tell me more about Katrina Babies.
In short, I’ve been trying to communicate the unleashing of energy and possibility in New Orleans after the disaster. It’s about New Orleans youth and how they were impacted after the storm: socially, academically, mentally, physically. I’m just trying to tell the story of what it’s like to be from New Orleans and what it’s like to be a survivor of Hurricane Katrina and how that disaster, as well as all of these other things like violence and music and food and everything that people see from outside of New Orleans – I’m explaining how that impacts us and how we embody that. The underlying arc of this story is the fact that for most of New Orleans youth, this is our first time talking about the storm.
What inspires you most about New Orleans?
I guess what inspires me about New Orleans – and this is the exact reason that I’m making this film – is realizing how different we are from other people. I think what most inspires me is how resilient and one with ourself we are. If you look around you see so many people of so many different colors, so many different races, so many different lifestyles – and for the most part it’s turning into something where everybody just wants to be somebody. That’s what most inspires me about New Orleans – that we take all of the pain and the blood and ugliness, and we create something out of it. It’s just in us! Even if you take it back to slavery shit — they would go to Congo Square every Sunday. You know what I’m saying? And through all that pain, they still created this whole genre of music. I think that’s in us, man. No matter what you’re going through, we all have this certain rhythm in the way we walk and talk. What inspires me most is just how resilient, creative, and awake we are –like that rose that grows from the concrete.