Minden native Cam Owen is making a name for himself as a producer and actor with the film “American Virgin,” a 15-minute short film that has made the top 20 in this year’s Louisiana Film Prize Festival.

Owen, a 2006 graduate of Minden High School, says he’s excited and honored the film he’s worked so hard on made it to the top 20.

“I’m real excited about the film festival,” he said. “I’ve attended the film festival for the past three years, and this is my first year producing a film, so I’m excited to give it a shot. There’s 19 other great films this year that I’m happy to be competing with, and I’m friends with a lot of the filmmakers, so we’re excited to do this together.”

He says it’s an honor to be chosen, especially when more well-known filmmakers did not make the cut.

“American Virgin” is a twisted comedy about a small-town girl who plays cello and has a dream to go to Juilliard in New York City for the summer, but her parents cannot afford it, he said. With the help of her cousin, Ty, played by Owen, she decides to sell her most valuable asset – her virginity.

“I think people will find it shocking and maybe controversial,” he said of the film in an email to the Press-Herald. “I think it will be very interesting to see how people receive the film. It is very funny at some points and very dark as well. We lay it all out there in a way that people will be laughing at this ridiculous scenario, but once they stop and think about what the film is actually saying, it might take them aback a bit. We wanted to make a film that leaves an impression, and I think we achieved that.”

The film was shot entirely in Shreveport, Owen says, with Tamzin Merchant as writer and director.

He says he met Merchant while working on season one of “Salem” (also shot entirely in Shreveport), and last year the two got together and brainstormed the idea for the short film.

“She had this idea in her head, and before she wrote the script, we met and had dinner, and threw ideas back and forth,” he said. “Three days later I got a script, and it was so funny and kind of dark, and it’s a good mix of everything you would want in a 15-minute short film.”

He says several people worked on the crew to make it happen, including Lucy Lawless, best known for her lead role as “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

The Louisiana Film Prize Festival is Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 1 through 4, in Shreveport/Bossier. The top 20 films will be shown in venues across the area including Festival Central located in the 700 block of Texas Street, Capri Theater located at 620 Milam Street, Central Artstation, located at 801 Crockett Street, Robinson Film Center located at 617 Texas Street and Louisiana Boardwalk located at 630 Boardwalk Boulevard.
Owen’s film will be shown at Robinson Film Center. The overall winner will receive $50,000 in cash plus distribution through Shorts International, iTunes and other channels. The winner will also automatically be entered into future festivals.

Owen lives in Shreveport but is a native of Minden. He studied theatre at Northwestern State University and earned an associates degree in film production, beginning his career in 2010 in the local film industry.

He has worked on such films as “Olympus has Fallen,” “Salem,” “I Saw the Light,” and is currently working on the Rob Reiner film “LBJ,” starring Woody Harrelson in New Orleans.

He played a small role in the short film, “Beaumont,” also listed in the Louisiana Film Prize’s Top 20 films.

A premiere party for “American Virgin” will be at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2 at Stray Cat, located in downtown Shreveport on the riverfront at 222 Travis Street.

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