fable house logo shadow

#CreateLouisiana Grant Winner and Lafayette Director Drake LeBlanc Explores Creole Trail Riding Culture with ‘Footwork’

Sep 1, 2023 | Louisiana Filmmakers, Louisiana Productions

Director Drake LeBlanc #CreateLouisiana

The American West is very much alive, but it may not look like white ranchers sipping whiskey in saloons. In Southwestern Louisiana and East Texas, weekend horseback riders carry the tradition of 18th-century Black cowboys, and it is this pocket of living Creole tradition that Director Drake LeBlanc explored in his #CreateLouisiana-winning documentary short film Footwork. 

The #CreateLouisiana annual grant, technically known as the French Culture Film Grant, began in 2015 as a showcase for French and Francophone culture, with a $25,000 cash prize awarded to a film in either Documentary or Narrative Short format. From CreateLouisiana:

#CreateLouisiana is designed to champion indigenous talent and support the entertainment industries that are integral to the region. Through the use of grants, development programs and social media, #CreateLouisiana is able to share the valuable stories, information and resources that contribute to our state’s creative economy.

Le Grand Remix CreateLouisiana French Culture Film Grant

Le Grand Remix – 2017 #CreateLouisiana French Culture Film Grant recipient

Lafayette-grown Director Drake LeBlanc chose to spotlight a segment of Louisiana Black culture that still thrives, as fathers and sons gallop out to dusted rural trails and return to camp to the sound of zydeco music and the mouth-watering culinary traditions that simmered up out of the Louisiana frontier. While viewers will have to wait until the 2024 New Orleans French Film Festival to see how LeBlanc approached these rich traditions, food historian and filmmaker Zella Palmer wrote a deep piece for 64 Parishes that described the importance of the food:

In Sulphur’s West Cal Arena, the smell of fresh cracklin and sauce piquante was in the air. RVs were scattered throughout the grounds for the three-day weekend. Trail riders gathered outside, barbecuing and stirring pots of simmering stews…In rural Southwest Louisiana, nothing is wasted. Every part of the hog, hen, rooster, pig, or cow is used to make rich gravies, smoked meat, smoked sausages, boudin, and stews.

Jeremiah Ariaz photographed Creole trail riders over several years and his artistic documentations of Creole tradition were spotlighted in a 2018 Paris Review trail-riding showcase. He wrote poetically about the representation of Creole trail riders:

In the context of this national backdrop, my photographs depict joy, pride, and familial intimacy, particularly between fathers and sons who are taught to care for and ride horses from an early age. The photographs reflect the Creole culture and the celebratory spirit of the rides while sharing one of the many histories in the American story that have largely remained untold.

LeBlanc’s film, Footwork, will offer a new perspective on the relationship between the horse and its rider, and between the rider and the land. This immersion in Creole tradition reflects a filmmaker who has strived to be a voice for Louisiana culture, and on a deeper level, a voice for under-represented Louisiana black culture. 

LeBlanc is the Founder and Creative Director of Above The Beyond Studios, a visual production and creative consulting studio described by Basin Arts Lafayette as “a media powerhouse responsible for creating disruptive, thought-provoking film and digital content.” LeBlanc is also the Co-founder and Director of Télé-Louisiane, which is a multi-lingual media platform self-described as, “We are the media platform made by and for the people of Louisiana–wherever y’at.” A deeper exploration of the Télé-Louisiane mission can be viewed on their website.

Footwork, CreateLouisiana 2023 French Culture Film Grant recipient

Footwork – #CreateLouisiana 2023 French Culture Film Grant recipient

Footwork competed against three finalists, and each of the four finalists pitched their films to the #CreateLouisiana grant review committee. The runner-ups were Anita by Writer/Director Kelsey Scult and Producer Fabiola Andrade, Cendres by Writer Charliese West and Director Chasah West with Producer Scott Tilton, and Métis by Writer/Director Miles Labat with Producer Tracy Keller.

Footwork will premiere at the 2024 New Orleans French Film Festival in March and then broadcast on TV5MONDE USA.

More about the Creole trail riders can be found through Jeremiah Ariaz’s photographs at Louisianatrailriders.com, through Zella Palmer’s exploration for 64 Parishes Magazine, or through Documentarian Conni Castille’s T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story available for streaming through Louisiana Public Broadcast.

Share this article





No spam, we promise!
Just the latest on Louisiana film industry.

Fable House is a video production company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that specializes in production for film, video, commercials, and TV. Our team are experts in physical production, post-production, and VFX. We produce content for major brands, TV networks like Syfy and Lifetime, and provide production services to Louisiana’s never-say-die indie filmmakers.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.