A Joint Base Andrews resident will be chewing her fingernails over the course of the next few days as she waits to learn whether her film will be voted on to receive a grand prize of $25,000.
Abigail Kruger’s “Green’s Alley” is one of 20 finalists — from about 150 submissions — in the Ninth annual Grand Prize at Louisiana Film Prize contest for short films.
According to a news release, the cash payout is the largest in the world for short films.
“I’m very, very happy,” Kruger said of the film being named a finalist. “It means a lot to me and all the artists in the film and it means a lot to the community of Shreveport. It’s just recognition that what you’re doing is being noticed. It would be nice [to win] but our goal though is to keep creating as a company because it’s a really positive thing for all of us.”
“It’s kind of a surreal experience,” said actress Hilary Frazier, who plays the lead role. “Just taking it all in is kind of strange to me, but it was fun and I’m glad we were able to put this project out there for everyone to see.”
Kruger, a previous Calvert County resident, used an “eclectic” crew, a budget of $3,000 and a cast of 15 to make the 14 minute, six second film.
Her 2019 submission, “Shrevepoet,” also made the final 20.
Kruger, who is married to an Air Force serviceman, lived in Shreveport from 2013 to 2016, and during that time owned and operated a talent company, Troy Productions.
“I’ve always dabbled in film,” she said. “It’s part of a performer’s career.”
Though she and her family had moved away from Louisiana, she kept in touch with many of her performers and used them in the film.
Despite the fact that restrictions had just been lifted in two days, Kruger went ahead and filmed the movie in two days using a friend’s property in the old city section of Shreveport.
“I didn’t know if we were going to be able to film at all, but we figured out a way to make something during the pandemic safely,” said Kruger, who filmed all scenes outside, limited the number of people on the set and maintained social distancing whenever possible. “There were a lot of unknowns so it was like, ‘We need to just get on camera the best [movie] we can’ and then weave it into a storyline.”
The film centers on a homeless woman (Frazier) who has experienced a traumatic event in her life.
“She kind of pulls things that she maybe sees in reality and uses those things to create something else,” Kruger said, referring to a scene when the woman picks up some gold glitter off the street and in her mind sees gold coating on everything. “She hallucinates a little bit and sees things maybe she wished it looked like. She uses escapism and fantasy to escape her reality.”
“I think I’m a little better at emoting than I am [at speaking],” Frazier, who last acted in high school, said of her non-speaking role. “But in some aspects it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was happy that everything kind of translated and came across. I’m pretty happy with what’s been put together.”
Frazier is also up for Best Performance.
Kruger said she wanted to bring attention to the plight of the homeless.
“There are different reasons for people being homeless [and with the COVID-19 pandemic] it’s really on the rise,” she said. “The tent cities are getting bigger and bigger every day. It’s getting noticeable.”
Other characters in the movie include a caring woman (Dannon Brown), a soldier and dancer (both roles by Lanter ThaGeneral Jones), a skateboarding juggler (Larry Wallace Jr.) and a prostitute (Giulia Piolanti).
Kruger herself plays a wealthy woman uncomfortable in a different part of town while her real-life daughter, Margaret, plays her daughter.
“I think part of making a good film is all about letting the viewer making it their own [message],” said Kruger, who added some original concepts just didn’t work. “It’s not a cut-and-dried script where this is what happens and this is what it is. There’s a lot of room for interpretation because even the poetry [from real-life poet POETIC-X] is like, ‘What is that supposed to mean?’ It kind of makes people say, ‘What was that?’”
While living in Sunderland, Kruger wrote a book called “Shrevepoet” that she self-published in 2019. The 330-page book tells the story of a “family owning a nightclub in Shreveport, La. and their employees experience the turbulent era America is moving through in the year 2017.”
“I don’t consider myself a good writer,” said Kruger, who comes from a family of writers including her father, who was an English professor, “I just like to get my story out in great detail.
To view “Green’s Alley” and to vote for the movie, go to https://prizefest.com/film/.