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Shape of Shreveport documentary series probes city's past, celebrates its people

Kate Archer Kent

Two Shreveport brothers are producing a video documentary series on the history of their hometown.

The 15-minute vignettes will highlight different threads in Shreveport’s story -- from Henry Miller Shreve to Yellow Fever to Elvis Presley.

Will Broyles runs a local oil and gas company, but for the past six months he’s been working on a family-funded side project called the Shape of Shreveport Documentary Series. Broyles says the first four episodes will be screened June 4 at the Strand Theatre.

“We’re constantly finding stories. Our hope is to do 20 [videos]. I think we’re probably going to end up doing more than that by the time it’s all said and done. We love the city. We love the stories here, and we want to try and document them all,” Broyles said, following a news conference at the Strand.

About 20 people have a hand in this project, according to Broyles. His team has been guided by local historians including LSU Shreveport history professor Gary Joiner, who is impressed with the quality of the work.

“Whenever they can on this they’re using original film or film that would make sense to go with what we’re talking about. It’s as good as anything you’ll see from the Smithsonian,” Joiner said.

Broyles will stress the positive side of Shreveport. He wants to help people understand why they should love where they live. But alongside the good, he says, there will be emotional issues that keep the audience gripped.

“In the episode when Martin Luther King Jr. came to town, there’s tension in that episode and it’s a really great episode. There’s grief in the episode about Yellow Fever, and it’s very relatable, that struggle,” Broyles said.

The screening of the first four episodes will be June 4 at 7 p.m. The event will be a fundraiser for the Strand. Broyles says the works will eventually be posted to shapeofshreveport.com. A trailer is due out in May.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.