Bobby Kruger graduated Verona High School with the class of 2003. He went to Syracuse University and studied broadcast journalism. He’s making a career in front of video cameras now–just not the career he once envisioned. And that seems to suit him just fine.
A month ago, Kruger and a crew of actors and movie tech types were at the corner of Claremont and Cumberland, shooting In The Field, a short film that he hopes will be the beginning of a larger project, like a TV series. “The aim is to tackle the way the media covers police-related shootings involving African Americans,” says Kruger, “specifically how reporters push everyone to take sides.”
For someone who hasn’t been in the film world very long, Kruger has some impressive work to his credit. He’s been in House of Cards, Billions, Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, The Outsiders and even workshopped James Gandolfini’s Criminal Justice before The Sopranos star passed away.
In The Field was inspired by some of the things that Kruger saw while he was a student at Syracuse. “The university is a great place to live and be, but the other side of 81 is not,” he says, referring to the highway to the west of campus. The film’s story focuses on a white reporter (played by Kruger, who also wrote the script) who goes to the house of a black shooting victim, and attempts to get an interview that will make him famous by spurring protests and a national spotlight. For the house interview scene, Kruger used a location in East Orange, but the shooting scene was filmed in Verona, prompting a few calls to Town Hall about the reason for the large police presence.
The Verona scene, which you can see in the teaser below, involved a line of shoppers on Christmas Eve waiting to get the hottest toy of the year. A scuffle breaks out, the police–actors, not the Verona Police Department–intervene, and shots are fired. “We killed that girl 40 times that day,” Kruger wryly notes of the multiple takes it took to get the scene right. Kruger gave high marks to Verona officials for their promptness in issuing film permits and to the VPD for making sure traffic moved safely on Claremont. “The police and everyone were really awesome to work with,” he says.
Now that filming has wrapped, there is more work to do. Kruger has a tight schedule for editing and post-production because he hopes to get In The Field ready for an early May premiere. “People are going to try to label it as a Black Lives Matter piece,” Kruger says. “There are a lot of films like that out there, but we think we have a unique approach, taking it from the media viewpoint.” Beyond film festivals and TV agents, Kruger is also hoping to screen In The Field for students at the journalism schools that he and his producer attended. “We want to ask them what they think about it,” he says, “and talk about their role in society.”
Kruger has opened a Kickstarter campaign to fund the remaining production costs of “In The Field”. You can learn more about that here. You can also follow the film’s progress on Facebook. Photo and video courtesy of “In The Field”.