LOUISIANA FILM PRIZE: Filmmaker Abigail Kruger on the Making and Meaning of SHREVEPOET

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Abigail Kruger’s Shreveport was one of twenty short films selected from this year’s crop of 120 submissions to compete for the coveted $50,000 cash award bestowed by the annual Louisiana Film Prize. One of the submission requirements is that the short have been filmed in Shreveport, or in the surrounding area. Kruger comments on the making and meaning of her film, a lyrical ode to to the city of Shreveport, following a street poet who dances through the city on roller skates.

Jennifer Merin: Please tell us about your film.

Abigail Kruger: The film Shrevepoet is based on the book I wrote with the same title. The film depicts a man gracefully and simply moving through his day, not bothered by the absolute poverty and urban decay surrounding him. As he moves through downtown Shreveport, the complicated political and cultural issues of this moment in time are all around him, and in the background.

The unstoppable power of nature crawls out of the cracks in ever present green, reminding us that we are all united by one the thing, the Earth which we live on. I chose movement as the central theme of this short film, to suggest we are moving through a defining moment in our American culture.

When I was almost finished writing this book, I heard a piece of music come over the radio while in my car (Song of the Universal by Ola Gjeillo with Walt Whitman) and was inspired to make a short film set to it.

The star of the film, Larry Wallace jr., inspired one of the characters in the book and immediately came to mind when thinking of the short film.

Merin: What challenges did you face making the film and how did you overcome them?

Kruger: I currently live in DC and knew making a film in Shreveport with $1500.00 would be a challenge, but I have a great cinematographer and editor, Clint McCommon, that is always supportive.

I lived in Shreveport when my husband was stationed there with the Air Force, and knew I could count on old friends to help with this project, so I drove down to Shreveport and hoped for the best. We were fortunate to just miss a tornado and have three sunny days.

Merin: What did you learn about filmmaking while making the film?

Kruger: Things did not go as planned when making this film, and we eventually realized the film was taking on a life of its own. We had planned to film in front of a church on Texas Street, but when we arrived we realized a white supremacist, confederate rally was happening two blocks away at the courthouse. We worked up the courage to film in front of the rally and experienced something that is difficult to put into words. We felt hate, and fear when filming in front of the courthouse, but when we crossed McNeil Street we were stopped by two women who got out of their car and thanked us. They told us they loved us, and the fear and hate were instantly erased. We felt empowered and will never forget how quickly the power of love can defeat hate. All we had to do was cross the street.

Merin: What are your plans for the future?

Kruger: I plan on continuing to work in film, but something tells me I will never forget the experience of making Shrevepoet. It was a true American adventure that defined this era for me.

I am proud to be a woman filmmaker in an industry where there is more and more interest to hear stories told by women, and I hope to help shape our culture with a female perspective.

Watch the Shrevepoet trailer.

ABOUT ABIGAIL KRUGER: Abigail Kruger is a former Cirque du Soleil acrobat and dancer who now works as a choreographer, writer, and filmmaker in the DC area. She performed in live stage shows for over twenty years in Las Vegas and other cities, and often includes theatrical elements in her writing and filmmaking. She lived in Louisiana for three years while her husband was stationed at Barksdale AFB, and enjoys returning to Shreveport to work with other artists from the area. Some of her most creative accomplishments were inspired by the artists of Shreveport, Louisiana, and she is forever grateful for their beauty and talent.

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