I have watched the events unfold in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, and my heart has been breaking from what I've seen. My wife and I have been sick with worry for all the relatives and friends
Joel C. High is senior VP of music and soundtracks for Lions Gate Entertainment.
I have watched the events unfold in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, and my heart has been breaking from what I've seen. My wife and I have been sick with worry for all the relatives and friends we have down there and for the countless strangers suffering through unimaginable hardship and loss.
We started to make lists of all the people we know in and around New Orleans so that we could check in with each of them to find out if they were safe and if there was something we could do to help. Fortunately, we have heard from the majority of our friends, but some are still missing, and all I can do is pray that they have escaped the city but are yet unable to reach out.
Our list is a lengthy one and comprises a great number of musicians and crew members of many of the films and TV programs I've worked on through the years as a music supervisor. Every person that I have been able to reach has had harrowing stories to tell of desperation and sorrow, but amazingly, every one of them wants to return to their home and get back to work as soon as possible.
The hard truth is that the City of New Orleans that so many of us love is devastated. It is something that I still cannot fully wrap my head around. As I began to write this article four days after Katrina hit, there were still people who had not had any food, water or medicine for days. Promised help had not arrived, and people were dying waiting for aid.
The fact that our nation cannot seem to martial the resources to help its most desperate citizens in their time of deepest need is tragic, and we need to let our government know that this is absolutely unacceptable.
The lucky people have evacuated to stay with friends, relatives or in shelters scattered around the region. It is shocking to think that the people of New Orleans are now being called "refugees," and there is talk of people living in camps for many months because the city is uninhabitable.
As I searched for something I could do to help in the face of what seems like a hopeless situation, I began to think of what resources I could martial to make a difference. My list of friends became my inspiration.
New Orleans in many ways is a sister city to Hollywood. It is a city of musicians, actors, artists, filmmakers and creative people. New Orleans is the acknowledged cradle for American music and is still home to some of the most talented musicians in the world. In addition, in recent years, the state has grown to be called the "Hollywood of the South" because of the number of film and TV productions shot there. I would venture to say that many in the music and film communities have some real connection to the region.
These are our peers, and they desperately need aid. The entertainment community has shown its generosity time and time again, and now it is time to step up and help out friends in need. This is a crisis that is nearly unfathomable in its scope, and donations from the studios, labels, corporations, organizations and individuals are necessary to help the suffering.
I am talking about a serious coordinated effort from a very wealthy industry. Many productions have benefited from lucrative tax-incentive programs from the state of Louisiana, and now it is time to give back in a meaningful way. Above and beyond donations, however, something even greater is required: commitment.
The one thing I am certain of is that the people of New Orleans love their city, and they will come back to rebuild. It is our obligation as business partners, fellow creative people and friends to be there for them. It is during this recovery that we can do a great deal of good financially and by bringing hope for the future.
Hollywood and the music industry must be ready to go back to the region and pick up where we left off. We must not abandon it now in its darkest hour, and we most certainly need to be ready to get back to work when the folks there are ready for us.
It is what we do best.