After living through Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, student filmmaker and Howard Beach resident Daniel Scarpati created an original short film entitled “Sandy Stories.” The film focuses on the post-traumatic stress caused by the storm and the relationships among the hurricane’s victims.
Scarpati’s family lost two cars and parts of their roof in the storm. “In the aftermath of Sandy there were 11 days of no power and heat,” he said. During those days Scarpati spent time working on his own house while also helping Red Cross relief trucks and American Legion efforts by unloading supplies and serving food.
Though Scarpati did not personally know anyone who died in the storm, he has relatives who lost everything they owned.
“My uncle was one of the unfortunate people who lost his home to a fire. He and my aunt made it out okay — all they lost was the home,” he said.
While there was nonstop reporting on Sandy during the storm, Scarpati noted that the coverage dwindled as time went on. “It’s been seven months now since the storm actually hit,” he said. “A lot of news stations were covering the storm, the damages, and the death. A month after the storm, you stopped hearing about the coverage.” He wanted to find a way to bring coverage back to these areas.
Scarpati’s video documentation from the two weeks following Sandy shows the piles of garbage and destroyed cars covering the streets. He did not originally know what he would do with the video footage, but thought the storm’s aftermath was important to document.
“As time went on it became clear to me that most people couldn’t see on TV this post-traumatic stress that people were going through after the storm,” Scarpati said. “None of the other people really understood what people were going through.”
Victims not only needed to cope with the destruction and loss of their belongings but also compile lists for insurance companies and contact power suppliers, which led to constant phone calls.
A student at the Macaulay Honors Program at Brooklyn College, where he is double-majoring in Film Production and Television and Radio, Scarpati enrolled in a film direction class and a film-editing class in late January. Those classes let him use his footage from the storm to combine a personal project with an academic one.
“I just love telling stories,” Scarpati said. “I love sharing my real-life experience with people and talking to people.”
Using both video and audio, film allows Scarpati to tell a story than he can permanently post online and share with hundreds of viewers.
As the director and founder of Passing Planes Production Company, Scarpati hopes that sharing his videos online will bring feedback from viewers and help expand his fan base. “You can’t live life without getting feedback on things that you’re doing,” he said.
He hopes to continue to foster this company and make short films in the future. Scarpati best describes his film about Hurricane Sandy as a film “by the people, for the people” after using his personal experience and interviews with Queens residents as the basis for his film.
“‘Sandy Stories’ is a universal tale in the sense that it’s universal in New York City,” Scarpati said. “Anybody who experienced Sandy on any level will be very familiar with the messages in the film.”