With the devastation of Hurricane Sandy still eminent along the Eastern coastline, Hungry Man director Dave Laden and his crew spent two days capturing the stories of those who received the brunt of the storm in Rockaway, Queens, Seaside, New Jersey and Ortley Beach, New Jersey. The project is aimed to gather donations for locals who survived Hurricane Sandy and are currently trying to build their lives back from the destruction. We had a chat with Dave Laden to discuss how he got involved with this project and the difficulties of shooting in the aftermath.

Dave Laden

Q: Why did you decide to get involved with this project?

DL: The second I got the call to do something for Hurricane Sandy relief I was in. It was a combination of wanting to help in anyway that I could and the fact that I had grown up in New Jersey and went to the Jersey shore every summer of childhood. When my buddy Mark Wenneker at Mullen called, I didn’t have to read the script. I knew it was going to be good. But once I did read it… and I saw an opportunity to re–write and re-think a classic holiday song—it was a done deal for me. The only problem was that it needed to be shot, edited and on air in 4 days and here I was in my car, driving down the 405 in LA. I made one call to our executive producer in NY, Kevin Byrne and the next thing you know, I was on a plane to New Jersey.

Q: Was it difficult shooting in Rockaway/Jersey Shore? Was it as bad as you expected?

DL: Now that the filming part is done, I’m blown away by the people who made this shoot possible. Nothing to do with me and everything to do with my team. What they were able to get us access to and the people that rallied to make this work in such a short amount of time in such a highly restricted disaster areas was unreal. Visually, what I saw was a hundred times worse than the worst image I saw on TV. It was extremely emotional for all of us, but the handshakes and the hugs in the end were worth every second.

Q: What is going on there now? Can you give us the real deal?

DL: It is ROUGH. Entire communities and neighborhoods have been wiped out, flattened and destroyed. They need LOTS of help and they will continue to need our help for the next few years. As for right now, right this second, any help is good help. Even hugs. Seriously these people love hugs. But many of them lost EVERYTHING. So anything you can give is going to make a difference.

Some of the damage is obvious to the eye and most of it is extremely emotional but the people in these areas are tough, close knit and they look out for each other. The fight for a normal life has just begun but I know with a hundred percent certainty,especially after filming this project these people will never give up and they will come back stronger than they ever were before.

Q: What happened with the bulldozer?

DL: We were in highly restricted areas so the construction crews had no reason to think there would be people filming anywhere near these sites. Halfway through one of our interviews the boardwalk was basically ripped out from under us. We were rolling at the time though so hopefully the agency will use that take in the edit. I’m not gonna lie though…. I ran.

Q: What type of difficulties did you experience with this run and gun shoot?

Very little actually. The locations scouts were amazing. They lived in these communities and knew everyone. Literally. They got us in and out of every nook and cranny with ease and safety, without them none of this would have been possible.

Q: What can we do to help?

DL: GO visit these areas. You’ll see what I’m talking about. There are many awful things going on in our world today and unfortunately there will be more. They all require equal attention and love. Do not forget out this tragedy or these people. Its going to take a lot of time and help to get back to normal.

*To do your part please visit http://www.12daysofrelief.com or by clicking here.

You can see more images from Dave Laden’s shoot on the Hungry Man Facebook page.

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