Edited by Demi Ratchford and Emma Taylor
Editors Note: The next episode of The Timeline “Rebirth in New Orleans” will premiere September 21st at 8pm ET on NFL Network.
Earlier this year, NFL Films Producers Rob Gehring and Paul Camarata traveled to New Orleans to shoot for The Timeline, “Rebirth in New Orleans”. But they walked away with more than just footage- they gained an insight to the heart of Nola.
According to Gehring, “Meeting these six people, and more, changed my life. Their perspective on our Timeline of events gave me a broader and more balanced perspective on the human spirit. The people of New Orleans are truly incredible. Vibrant, territorial, strong, creative, loyal…those are just some of the words that come to mind.”
Gehring and Camarata sat down with three friends: Randy “Frenchy” Frenchette, a local artist and former Saints team painter; an enthusiastic Saints fan Leroy Mitchell, also known as “Whistle Monsta”; and Hank Staples, owner of the Maple Leaf Bar, a legendary music venue on Oak Street in New Orleans.
Also featured in the film is Shelton “Shakespeare” Alexander, a poet and Superdome refugee who hosts an open mic night every week at Sweet Lorraines Jazz Club, and a man named named Doug Thornton. According to Gehering, “Words don’t do justice to the labor of love endured by Doug Thornton, the Senior Vice President of SMG, the company that manages the Superdome and the adjacent New Orleans Arena on behalf of the state. Thornton helped save lives during the storm and then inspired them by making sure the Superdome was renovated in time for our Moment to happen on Monday Night Football. He is the soul of that building.”
Gehring said, “We couldn’t have made this film without the support and generosity of the coaches and players who lived it. The Saints supported this project from Day One. They told honest, personal stories about this time in their life. I think you’ll also see a side of Coach Payton that few people get to see. I only ever knew him as a tough, competitive NFL head coach on Sundays. Working on this film allowed me to meet the man, Sean Payton, and it was a fascinating and humbling experience.”
Throughout “Rebirth in New Orleans”, loud music is used to showcase the city’s artists and culture.
“New Orleans is a very unique city. An almost perfect intersection of music, art, and human spirit,” said Gehring. “There is an energy about that place, and its people, that is rare. And contagious.”
The spirit of New Orleans to Gehring can be summed up by the phrase Joie de vivre. “The phrase is defined as: a delight in being alive; keen, carefree enjoyment of living,” Gehring said. “No truer words have been spoken to describe the people of New Orleans and the music in their hearts.”
Produced by : Paul Camarata, Rob Gehring, and Chip Swain
The Timeline series is produced by Paul Camarata and Ken Rodgers