Texas filmmaker Travis Champagne has deep roots in Louisiana that keep him coming back.
The Breaux Bridge native first left Louisiana in 2001 when his family moved to Houston. But he returned three years later to attend Louisiana State University. 
Aspirations to work in film took him to California and Texas. But for the past few years he’s been drawn back to his home state for a north Louisiana film competition he says is unlike any other.
This year is no different.

Champagne, 29, will be among 20 finalists showcasing short films at the Louisiana Film Prize Oct.1-4 in Shreveport. The festival awards one of largest cash prizes for a short film — $50,000. Champagne — who founded The Woodlands production company Red Belt Studios— was one of 125 filmmakers who entered the competition.

His film, “Jackdaw,” is about a father coping with the disappearance of his wife on its one-year anniversary.

Champagne said though the woman’s disappearance is at the heart of the film, he hopes audiences take away more than the storyline and see the film’s deeper metaphorical meaning.

“People who’ve watched it, assume it’s only about a kidnapping and finding out the details of her disapearance,” he said. “But what I think is important is the loss of a mother and wife and (the father and son) realizing the importance of each other after such a tremendous loss.”

The greatest part of film is the journey, Champagne said. “With this particular journey, it ends in a way the story still goes on,” he said. Champagne collaborated with fellow Film Prize veteran, Stephen Kinigopoulos, a New Orleans filmmaker who recently moved to Maryland.

The two met at the 2013 Film Prize. 

Kinigopoulos’ “Last Call” was among the Top 20 films being screened that year, as was Champagne’s “The Sound of Trains.” “I just really enjoyed his film and his passion for filmmaking,” Champagne said.

So as Champagne began his script for this year’s entry, he reached out to Kinigoupolos to see if he wanted to be a part of it. It turned out, Kinigoupolos had a script of his own and a collaboration ensued. “We kind of merged the two and made a baby called ‘Jackdaw,’” Kinigoupolos said. He said their concepts and visions were different but complemented each other.

Champagne found ways to engage the audience, while “I loved to build characters,” Kinigoupolos said. The combination resulted in an amazing film, he said.

Author: Michele Marcotte