Helena Sardinha, a Los Angeles-based producer for Driven Equation and co-creator of “Sitka,” is in Sitka right now to teach at its fine arts camp. Sardinha said a short “proof of concept” will be filmed soon and has not yet been cast. (Courtesy Art | Helena Sardinha)

Helena Sardinha, a Los Angeles-based producer for Driven Equation and co-creator of “Sitka,” is in Sitka right now to teach at its fine arts camp. Sardinha said a short “proof of concept” will be filmed soon and has not yet been cast. (Courtesy Art | Helena Sardinha)

Ready for the big time: ‘Sitka’ show starts shooting soon

Series set in Southeast shares change in plans, welcomes new producer

The plan changed some, but a TV show set in Sitka is still in the works.

Helena Sardinha, a Los Angeles-based producer for Driven Equation and co-creator of the work-in-progress show, told the Empire that instead of shooting a full pilot episode for a scripted series simply titled “Sitka” the plan is now to shoot an eight- to 10-minute “proof of concept” this summer.

“We are planning on shooting in the next couple of months,” Sardinha said. “It’s kind of a sample to show to networks and partners to show what the show is going to be like. It’s just a shorter version of the pilot, so it’s more cost effective.”

[A TV show set in Sitka is still in the works]

Once the proof of concept is shot and edited, it will be shown to networks and streaming services in hopes of securing interest and taking another step toward making the series a reality.

Shooting the short segment will take about three days, Sardinha said, and “Sitka” is not yet cast.

“It’s an ongoing thing,” Sardinha said. “We’re still deciding if we want to bring someone from L.A. or cast over here.”

Helena Sardinha, a Los Angeles-based producer for Driven Equation and co-creator of “Sitka,” is in Sitka right now to teach at its fine arts camp. Sardinha said a short “proof of concept” will be filmed soon and has not yet been cast. (Courtesy Art | Helena Sardinha)

Helena Sardinha, a Los Angeles-based producer for Driven Equation and co-creator of “Sitka,” is in Sitka right now to teach at its fine arts camp. Sardinha said a short “proof of concept” will be filmed soon and has not yet been cast. (Courtesy Art | Helena Sardinha)

Sardinha said the idea of the project has attracted attention from both artists living in Alaska and Alaskans who moved to Los Angeles to pursue work in the entertainment industry.

“I feel like people are interested in it,” Sardinha said. “It’s really very needed for our little town here.”

Patricia Buak, owner of the Bayview Pub, is one of the local supporters. Buak initially approached Sardinha and her partner Rafael Thomaseto about setting a show in the city of about 8,800.

Buak said she’s not alone in being excited about the project and the exposure it could bring.

“A lot of people that want to donate something or want to contribute,” Buak said in a phone interview. “Sitka is a very nice community in this sense. Very helpful.”

Another change for “Sitka” is the addition of two new partners. One is The Film Collaborative, a nonprofit based in L.A. that works with productions to allow donors to make tax-deductible donations.

Sardinha and co-creator Rafael Thomaseto, her partner in Driven Equation, are also now working with producer Stacy Boles. Boles is an Alaskan film and TV producer and casting director who has worked with “The Frozen Ground,” “Alaskan Bush People,” and “The Amazing Race.”

That reality show background doesn’t change the plan for “Sitka,” Sardinha said. The show is still planned to be a down-to-earth depiction of life in Southeast Alaska with an emphasis on the healing nature of Sitka.

“Nothing changed, we had additions,” Sardinha said. “We don’t have any major changes with the title or the tone or anything like that.”

[Adorable, fuzzy eagle doing OK after being found on the ground in Juneau]

Sardinha said her excitement and appreciation for “Sitka” the hoped-for series and the city itself has grown.

“We’ve been very excited since the beginning of this project to make it happen,” she said. “It’s a complicated industry, so that’s why we had to do those little tweaks to make things run more smoothly instead of just going with it. We love the idea. We really love the city. I’m here right now to teach at the summer camp, so I’m having a very Alaskan experience being here for a whole month. We really love the town, the people and the culture over here. I’m probably more passionate about the project with time passing because I get to be more around the subject.”


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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