Steve “Woody “Culleton Talks Loss And Hope in Rebuilding Paradise Documentary for NatGeo [Exclusive Interview]

A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, CA on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (Photo by Noah Berger)

Steve “Woody” Culleton rebuilds his home in Paradise, CA after losing it to the Camp Fire. (Credit: National Geographic)

From out of the ashes, people will rebuild paradise.

Rebuilding Paradise follows the aftermath of the perfect firestorm that scorched a Northern California town suddenly. Dozens of people died along with the destruction of hundreds of buildings. The town would never be the same.

Yet, many townsfolks and residents are resilient. Despite the destruction, they vow to return to their homes and rebuild what’s leftover.

From Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard, he followed the leaders and group of residents since 2018 from their devastating losses. Using video footage recorded during the fires, new footage of the aftermath, and interviews, the documentary paints a glimmer of hope for this town.

Here’s the full synopsis:

On the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, a spark from a transmission line in Northern California, coupled with climate-impacted conditions, quickly grew into a devastating firestorm that engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California. By the time the Camp Fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents, and destroyed 95% of local structures. It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years—and the worst ever in California’s history.

As residents faced the damage to their lives, to their homes and to more than 150,000 acres in and around their 141-year-old town, they did something amazing: They worked together to heal. The community members went on to forge a bond stronger than what they had before the catastrophe, even as their hope and spirit were challenged by continued adversity: relocations, financial crises, government hurdles, water poisoning, grief, and PTSD.

From the moment the crisis began, Ron Howard led a filmmaking team to the city and would go on to spend a year with Paradise residents, documenting their efforts to recover what was lost. The Camp Fire and its overwhelming aftermath became a de facto lesson in what we all must do: protect our environment, help our neighbors, plan for future dangers, and remember to preserve the traditions that unite us—just as these resilient citizens did when they began the important task of Rebuilding Paradise.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Steve James on Showing Documenting Chicago’s 2019 Mayoral Race in City So Real for NatGeo [Exclusive Interview]

LRM Online’s Gig Patta chatted with former mayor and city of Paradise resident Steve “Woody” Culleton. We talked about the documentary, devastating losses, and his will to remain in Paradise.

Please note this interview took place the day before election day on November 2, 2020. Culleton plans his return to the city council of Paradise and the election boards are still counting votes.

Rebuilding Paradise premieres tonight on the NatGeo Channel at 9 p.m. Please check the listings.

Watch the exclusive interview below with Steve “Woody” Culleton. Let us know what you think.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, National Geographic

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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