Film Prize energizes independent filmmaking while creating economic impact and opportunities for women and minority filmmakers
The Louisiana Film Prize, a short film contest and festival, has reached a new milestone in its fifth year – 500 entries. The Film Prize is a short competition where filmmakers are required to come to Shreveport, La. and shoot their production in order to be eligible for the Film Prize’s $50,000 cash grand prize – one of the world’s largest cash prizes for short film.
Of the 500 Film Prize entries, about two thirds each year complete their film, submit to organizers, and also meet the strict rules set up for the contest. With an average runtime of 11 minutes, this means over 3,500 minutes of content have been created since the festival’s inception, which equates to nearly 40 feature films. Over the past five years, the Film Prize has put hundreds to work providing production services, bringing rental houses work, and filling restaurants, hotels, and businesses with cast and crew of these projects. This activity has created an estimated $10 million dollars in economic impact.
“The staff of the Louisiana Film Prize is incredibly proud to be a part of the independent film revolution taking place in northwest Louisiana,” said Film Prize associate director Chris Lyon. “The art and industry of motion pictures has created a real sense of pride here, and that energy is carried both by local filmmakers to others they know and back home with filmmakers who come to work in our community.”
These projects also break barriers in other ways. Of the films that reach competition stage, over40% are by women directors or producers, three quarters of which sit in the director’s chair – a number that dwarfs the major studio rate of less than 5% women directors. In addition, over 25% of the filmmakers and producers identify as belonging to a minority group, compared to 12% in the studio system.
“It was obvious when I participated as a judge for last year’s Film Prize that the organizers were committed to diversity, and it’s very satisfying to see that their numbers continue to grow in that area,” Destri Martino, founder of the women in film advocacy group The Director’s List. “A conscious effort is required to increase diversity in all aspects of film– as time has showed us in Hollywood, it won’t just happen on its own. Bravo to the Film Prize team for their continued work in this area!”
The filmmaking activity swell generated by the Louisiana Film Prize continues to rise even as studio film production in the state has fallen, proving that indigenous filmmakers have the drive and the passion to create works that meet at the intersection of art and commerce, cultivating a creative economy. Each year, the contest has grown in entries – from 83 in 2012 to over 120 in 2015 and is expected to continue to grow this year through new partnerships with companies like Kodak Motion Picture Film who are encouraging contestants to shoot on celluloid.
In order to be eligible for competition in the Louisiana Film Prize, filmmakers must shoot a short film in the northwest Louisiana area and turn in a completed project for consideration by July 12th. The 20 films selected for competition will be announced August 14th, and the Louisiana Film Prize Festival Weekend takes place September 29 thru October 1, 2016. in Shreveport. Tickets go on sale in July.