"Closed for Storm" Not Only Tells the Story of the Abandoned Six Flags, but...
...Also Highlights the Haunting Effects It Continues To Have on the Community
Photo Courtesy of Bright Sun Films
Closed for Storm is the directorial debut of filmmaker Jake Williams for Bright Sun Films. The documentary focuses on the location of the former Six Flags New Orleans theme park, which has been sitting abandoned and rotting, since Hurricane Katrina made landfall nearly 16 years ago.
Although some groups, including Kiernan West LLC and S.H.I.E.L.D 1, which involves former Saints quarterback Drew Brees, have some ideas for redeveloping the space, it sits with no immediate plan for anything to take over the site.
I spoke with Williams about his interest in the former Six Flags location and what drove him to make the documentary.
“I’ve been on YouTube for a decade and I’ve always had an interest in abandoned places,” he said. “The former Six Flags is one of the most iconic abandoned places in the world. I had a basic knowledge of what happened, but I wanted to learn more.”
Williams got production rights, paid for security and was able to spend 3 full days filming on site for the documentary. His motivation for the film, he said, was getting to the root of why the site still sits empty 15 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.
“In the documentary, I spoke with people who built it, people who worked at Six Flags, fans of the park and the people who want to redevelop it,” he said. “When you go from the beginning of the story to now, you can see how full circle it is.”
Most importantly, Williams wanted to tell the story of the people of New Orleans East, where the park is located. He feels that they haven’t had much of a voice, especially since they are the ones dealing with the consequences of living next to an abandoned theme park.
“I approached with the basic knowledge of the situation, but I wanted to know exactly why Six Flags left and just abandoned this place,” he explained. “There are people who lost jobs and the people who live around here- their property value just dropped. It’s been tiring for the people who live in this area; nothing has happened for years and they feel as if no one is listening to them.”
Aside from just telling the story of an abandoned theme park, Williams sees his documentary as a way to give the people of New Orleans East a voice.
He said, “This is one of the last big reminders of Katrina. The people in this area were told that this was going to be like living next to Disney World- now they’re dealing with an empty park that’s just sitting there. It’s costing the city money every day- the city pays for 24-hour armed security, which isn’t cheap.”
He continued, “I want to be a voice for the people who live in New Orleans East. They didn’t choose to live next door to this. I’m hoping that my film will encourage some development of the space.”
Closed for Storm is now available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms.