If you read my last post about the movie industry in Shreveport, Louisiana, then you already know that many Hollywood big wigs have been coming to Shreveport to film since Hurricane Katrina. (If you aren’t familiar with my last post, you can get up to speed here. Go ahead, I’ll wait) While bringing in film makers from Hollywood has been a huge boost for Shreveport’s economy, they’ve also encouraged more “home grown” film efforts through programs like the Louisiana Film Prize.
The Louisiana Film Prize has been around for 5 years with great success. It offers aspiring film makers an opportunity to showcase their short film and get a shot at the grand prize of $50,000. You read that correctly, a cool 50 grand, the largest prize for a short film contest in the world. To be eligible for the prize, the film maker can be from anywhere in the world, but the film must be shot in Northwest Louisiana.
Festival filming season began a few weeks ago with a tequila shot kick off and a special announcement that this year filming in Natchitoches, LA will be permitted and prize eligible! This is very exciting news as Natchitoches (pronounced Nak-a-dish, for you non-bayou folk) is the oldest and also one of the most picturesque cities in Northern Louisiana. Natchitoches has a bit of a film history itself, it was the filming location for the movie “Steel Magnolias.”
Filming season kicked off mid-January, but there is still time to get in on the action. Grab a camera and head to Northwest Louisiana for your shot at fame and fortune, or if you’re more comfortable in front of the camera, check the Louisiana Film Prize Facebook page for casting information. Submissions are accepted until July 12, 2016 for this year’s October festival.
Don’t worry If film is not your forte, music, food, and “start-up” prizes have been added in recent years. While the awards are not quite as spectacular as $50,000 yet, the bragging rights are priceless.
Even if you don’t participate in the film making process, you can still be an integral part of the Louisiana Film Prize. Plan your trip to Shreveport for the first weekend in October when the real fun begins. The top 20 short films from all of the submissions are chosen and shown to the public. The judging is based 50% on votes from a panel of professional industry judges and 50% on the votes of viewers like you! There are two screenings of 10 films each and participants are required to see all of the films in order to cast a vote.
Passes for last years event cost $30 in advance or $50 at the door and included a both screenings. If you want to go big, a VIP pass will get you into both screenings, as well as a reception area with snacks and drinks at Art Space, a gallery in downtown Shreveport. It will also make you feel crazy important!
Since participants are such an important part of the judging process, and with $50,000 on the line, you can be sure to run into many of the film makers and stars trying to sway your vote. Prepare to leave with bags full of free movie swag and a few selfies with some of your favorite film crew before they hit it big.
While the Louisiana Film Prize is really the star of the show, the Music Prize and Food Prize are going on simultaneously, making “prize season” the perfect time to visit the Shreveport area. While I was there for the the 2015 Louisiana Film Prize, I also made sure to check out Abby Singer’s Bistro, a cinema themed restaurant showcasing the talents of chef Tootie Morrison, the winner of the 2015 Louisiana Food Prize. The perfect restaurant for a film-themed weekend.
Visit Shreveport for the film, and stay for the food. You’ll always be treated like a VIP (even if you don’t have the lanyard to prove it).
Many thanks to the amazing folks at Louisiana North for hosting me and introducing me to this amazing festival! As always, all opinions are my own.