Katie Walker has some simple advice for anyone hesitating about pursuing a dream.
“Go for it,” she says emphatically.
That’s the advice she gave herself when she decided to produce a short film for this year’s Louisiana Film Prize competition. After working in front of the camera as an actor in projects every year since the first Film Prize in 2012, Walker decided it was time to try something new.
“This is the first year I had enough courage to do something different,” she said. “The fear for me was always thinking I don’t know enough or it’s too big of a project to get it done. I finally watched enough people here just have enough courage to step out and do it. And I thought this is the best way to learn, to step out and just do it. If I mess up, I can still look back and say ‘I did it.’ So I decided, ‘Let’s go.’”
Walker is producing a film titled My Father’s Son, written and directed by Kyle Clements, who also is the executive producer. Clements won the 2013 Film Prize with his short film Silo. Walker played a small role in that film. Walker said they have stayed in touch sporadically since then. When Clements decided he was coming in this year, he contacted Walker to discuss the project. She said there was something specific that drew her to Clements’ film.
“I am driven more to do projects with a purpose,” she said. “This story, for me, had a life purpose, a family purpose. So I wanted to give the time to this project.”
My Father’s Son follows up-and-coming photographer and new father Asher Van Zandt as he returns to his roots to deal with the death of his estranged father. In addition to producing the film, Walker plays a supporting role as Van Zandt’s mother.
Walker has been involved in projects beyond the Film Prize as well. She was involved in the anti-sex trafficking film 8 Days, which has been shown across the United States and internationally. Walker said the film contributed to shutting down two brothels in the Dominican Republic. She also is in a feature film called Color Me You that premiered in August and the upcoming limited-release Pure Flix film Because of Gracia.
All of Walker’s work reflects her commitment to a higher calling. “Entertainment and art can change cultures through story,” she said. “To me, that’s one of the best ways to communicate to people a different way to live, a different perspective. So, when I think of putting my time in, I want it to be purposeful. Something that will uplift and encourage and change the culture for the better. Basically, I would call it leaving a mark of a legacy of Jesus.”
Gregory Kallenberg, executive director of the Film Prize, said he is proud to see Walker and many other locals embrace the spirit of the Film Prize and get involved through the years.
“Watching the people of Shreveport – the creative community in the region – rise up and make beautiful films and do amazing work is one of the most inspirational things I have ever been able to experience,” Kallenberg said. “When you look at people like Katie, who has been with us from the very beginning, watching her progress and evolve is one of the incredible things we have gotten to see. When you see this community collect themselves around these filmmakers and become producers, that is an evolutionary change in that person. When you move past that person and what they do in the community, it transforms this place.”
Walker said she appreciates the Film Prize for helping her pursue her dreams, and she encourages others to do the same.
“Because Gregory and the Film Prize opened this door, he’s opened creativity and he’s opened dreams for people in the community,” Walker said. “I am forever grateful for the Film Prize. It brought action to my dreams. So really all we have to do is say yes and go for it.”
Louisiana Film Prize is Oct. 4 through 7, with the awards ceremony on Oct. 8. For information on tickets, screenings, venues and more, visit the website at prizefest.org.