"Donna is a visionary costume designer. She took the script and concepts the director gave her and put together a plan and a team to completely execute it. She is every director's and producer's dream because she understands the creative work, she has her own creative insights, and she knows how to execute on time and under the multiple chaotic pressures of a large film set."
Donna Riggs was the costume design for the political documentary, America, based upon the #1 New York Times best selling author, Dinesh D’Souza, the creator of the second highest grossing political documentary film of all time.
D’Souza came to the Florida West Coast to film part of his second documentary film, called America, with producer, Gerald Molen, (Minority Report, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List for which he won an Academy Award - Oscar for Best Picture)
Director and Co-Producer, John Sullivan, needed 15th century costumes for the movie which included, 21 Eastern India villagers, 20 Lucayan Indian villagers, and 20 Christopher Columbus ship crew members that had been stranded at sea for months.
All were needed in 28 days as the Columbus replica ships were scheduled to be in the waters of Central Florida for a week.
Donna created period clothing to represent a ship full of authentic-looking sailors by distressing and dyeing fabrics that would have been the flax linen and remnants worn by the sailors, worn by a four-month period lost at sea.
Gorros, skullcaps, peasecods, hosen, trews, cuttoys, breeches, brigandines, shirts, vambraces, belts, gauntlets, and mix of clothing were created costume the 20 crewmembers.
Little research was available about the Lucayan Indian villagers, and Donna relied upon indigenous materials that would have been used for clothing, jewelry, tattoos, and body art for the Lucayans. Fabric was distressed and dyed, temporary tattoos were designed and printed to represent the culture and those symbols they would have deemed important. Real spices were used as authentic body paint, and headdresses were created to show a hierarchy in the culture.
Donna created saris, choli, dhoti, turbans, and other traditional pieces that were made from dyed and distressed Indian cotton to represent an older colors and an older time period for the Eastern Indian villagers, and wrapped and dressed the actors in authentic style.
Donna engaged her twin sister, Diana, to do the set design and staging.