By Andrew Alexander
Earlier this month, Louisiana-shot films Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave took the 86th Academy Awards by storm, nearly sweeping the four acting categories and winning Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
As stars Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Brad Pitt accepted their golden statuettes, it was yet another reminder of the profound impact “Hollywood South” is making on the film industry these days.
Despite the onscreen talents of McConaughey and other actors, the growth of Louisiana’s film industry can be attributed to an entire network of people working behind the scenes to build an atmosphere that rivals its West Coast counterpart.
One of the most important cogs in the Hollywood South machine is Andre Champagne, the founder of Hollywood Trucks.
A Louisiana native and LSU graduate, Champagne founded Hollywood Trucks in 2007 after spending six years in Los Angeles learning all the aspects of the film industry. With over 400 vehicles in his fleet, Champagne has grown Hollywood Trucks into the largest entertainment transportation company in the southeastern US.
Champagne recently unveiled his newest and greenest creation to date, the Ecoluxe trailer. Ecoluxe is the most technologically advanced and eco-friendly line of entertainment transportation and talent trailers on the market.
“It was a natural evolution of what is taking place overall in any form of the transportation industry, as vehicles become more energy efficient and technologically advanced,” Champagne said.
Ecoluxe trailers are outfitted with energy efficient LED lighting, countertops made entirely from post-consumer recycled plastics and wrap around couches with eco-friendly fabrics.
“Our industry is an extremely clean focused industry,” Champagne said. “Many of the top level stars, from the studios to the actors, really promote a green environment.”
Champagne’s clientele list includes A-list movie stars Ryan Reynolds, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Affleck.
These celebrities used to be subjected to sleeping in what amounted to a refurbished motor home. While this does not sound bad to the average John or Jane Doe, actors typically have more opulent tastes.
“In essence, you’ve gone from something that was your standard RV camper into something that really resembles what these ultra-high profile individuals are used to in their homes,” Champagne said. “With our fleet we wanted to introduce something into our sector of the market that was more eco-friendly and basically more contemporary.”
Contemporary would be putting it a bit mildly.
The Ecoluxe features range from the practical one touch drive technology and self-leveling jacks to the luxurious massive flat screen televisions equipped with DirecTV and Apple devices propelled by ultra high speed Internet.
This entire system is powered by rooftop solar panels and diesel generators, which run on the world’s cleanest renewable and bio-diesels.
“We wanted to raise the bar in our industry and create a product that anyone on the project would enjoy to use, and would be more energy efficient, thereby keeping costs down for the production and the environment cleaner,” Champagne explained.
“We wanted to raise the bar in our industry and create a product that anyone on the project would enjoy to use, and would be more energy efficient.”
Of course being able to control the entire trailer from your iPhone or iPad doesn’t hurt either.
Yeah, there’s an app for that.
“We completely redesigned the talent trailer, to where every conceivable aspect of it was more user friendly,” Champagne said.
After renting trailers to over 700 productions, Champagne said he has his fair share of interesting celebrity stories.
Without disclosing too many details, Champagne simply remarked, “you find some unique items in the trailer and see unique things.”
Champagne’s favorite celebrity client is Matthew McConaughey. And while Champagne has never witnessed the recent Oscar winner play the bongos, he said that McConaughey is “a fantastic guy and a superb talent.”
“I love Matthew McConaughey,” Champagne said. “He’s very real, very down to earth.”
As McConaughey and his fellow actors and actresses dive into future on-screen roles, Champagne has already planned the future of Hollywood Trucks, a business as sustainable as the energy it’s harnessing.
“We’re moving to this entire line throughout our entire fleet,” Champagne said. “Within six months I’ll have these trailers completely off the grid. They’ll be able to operate 100 percent from solar and thermal energy.”