“We keep running into people in the local Target,” hair stylist and IA 798 member Donita Sather says about her relocation to Shreveport. “We become family.”In that last observation, she was talking about film crews in general, who, she notes, work long hours in close quarters—spending more time together than many actual families do (something that takes its toll on more than the occasional showbiz marriage).But more and more of those reconstructed family members keeping finding each other in the Shreveport-Bossier area in northern Louisiana, which is slowly becoming a default hub of film activity in the Pelican State, as the southern ends pursues the more immediate tasks at hand of grieving, drying out, and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.As noted in the main article in this section, several productions already in the “Louisiana pipeline”—set to shoot there, with attendant tax breaks factored into the production budget—have regrouped and found locales elsewhere in the state. And one of those, much to her surprise, had Sather’s name on it.That was the television series Thief, starring the woefully underutilized Andre Braugher—an FX series about, well, thieves (with honor) also slated for shooting in and around the Crescent City.And despite the lead star’s bald pate, the production—now looking to convert a former Shreveport city morgue into standing sets—will still need hair stylists, and everybody else from grip, DP, best boy, and more, to get a series up and running.So the call went out. And for Sather, the call came while she was busy getting the second act of her own American life (did Thomas Wolfe reckon on massive natural disasters wiping certain slates clean, when he originally penned that line?) back together in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.She’d gone there to stay with her ex-in laws (the ex himself runs a small moving company back in New Orleans, and remained since there was such a pressing need for his particular services), figured she would find a gig at a local beauty salon, and enrolled her two sons in the schools there.Her teenager “is displaced” she notes ruefully, but her younger one received a nearly epiphanous surprise of his own when he “ran into one of his best friends from (New Orleans) in the office.” That’d be the office in Eau Claire—over a thousand miles away from their previous school.The incident even made the local news in Wisconsin, as a heart-warming “here’s some good news” segment.But Sather notes a certain broken-heartedness in the situation she and her sons find themselves in, since the sudden call to work on Thief meant she would now be separated from them, as well.Her children are still in the land of dairy and the Packers, with their grand-folks, while she hastily completes relocation to Shreveport, splitting an apartment with a good friend also working on the production, and making numerous trips to Target to stock up, having survived the deluge with “six pairs of scissors,” whereas she normally has about “ten thousand dollars worth of equipment” at hand.“For Thief, I will order the essentials I need,” she notes calmly. “You make things work—you improvise.”Taoists and Zen practitioners have long argued that that’s true of life in general, whether we like it or not—it’s all about the moment. It may also be about something more than improvisation: “We’re all optimistic people” Sather adds, speaking of showbiz workers in general.Such optimism is undoubtedly a necessary quality for staying sane in an industry where erratic employment is the norm. How much more so when you’re literally rebuilding after a flood.Thief begins production—and Sather will find herself on set—starting in mid-October.
Written by Mark London Williams