Viva LA Film Prize 2016

The Louisiana Film Prize has become quite a big deal around these parts. “These parts” are in Northwest Louisiana, where budding and seasoned filmmakers, cast, crew and supporters gathered last night to kick off the 2016 short film competition. Twenty short films will be chosen to compete, and the audience will vote on which film they think is worthy of the $50,000 prize. (Yes, you read that right…fifty grand!) The 2016 LAFP Weekend will begin September 3o, 2016.

The second floor at artspace in Downtown Shreveport was filled with people who have been involved with the Film Prize since the beginning, yet there were also first timers in attendance. I spoke with budding filmmaker Omar Williams, a senior at Centenary College, and his friend Loren Reese. They are currently working on a script together and are hoping to have their short film completed by the submission deadline, which is July 12, 2016 at midnight. Omar described the script as being a thriller/suspense, which is still in the works. It may be an interesting project, considering that he is majoring in history but pursuing a career in film. This will be Omar and Lorens’ first submission to the LA Film Prize, which is celebrating its fifth birthday.

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Omar Williams (left) and Loren Reese, young filmmakers with their eyes on the LA Film Prize.

Shreveport City Councilman (District B) Jeff Everson was a special guest; he related to everyone how much he believes that the quality of films shown during the Film Prize weekend keeps getting better and better. Chris Lyon, filmmaker liaison of the Film Prize crew, announced that Natchitoches Parish is now approved as territory in which films can be shot, since submissions must be filmed in Northwest Louisiana.

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Filmmaker and LAFP filmmaker liaison Chris Lyon sporting his new “Make Indie Film Great Again” cap.

The highlight of the kick-off event was when Film Prize “Papa” Gregory Kallenberg spoke to everyone about how much of a positive economic impact the competition has brought to Shreveport. (Over 3 million dollars in revenue!)

“You have to think about who we are, what we have done together and what we have accomplished,” Kallenberg said before raising a shot of tequila, toasting the film prize and announcing,

“WE are the film prize! YOU are the film prize!”

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Gregory Kallenberg, basking in awesomeness, at the LAFP 2016 Kick Off.

I spoke to Kallenberg one last time before I left the event, and he asked me why I wanted to promote the competition. My answer was pretty simple, “I love movies.” That’s when Gregory told me that I was in the right place and that everyone there was “my people.” It is obvious that a lot of love, sweat and tears go into this event. (And maybe some fake blood?) After seeing a few of the films that screened last year, I am very much looking forward to seeing every film this year and casting my vote for the best one!

For filmmakers in Northwest Louisiana, this could be your shot at making a short film and getting some recognition for your art! There are guidelines that must be followed. Check out the website for up-to-date information on submitting your original work. You can also follow the LA Film Prize on Facebook.

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The film prize crew sings Happy Birthday to celebrate their 5th year!

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