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[whitespace] Frog and Wombat
Stacey Campbell

Secret Sharers: Emily Lipoma and Katie Stuart star in the locally made children's movie 'Frog and Wombat.'

Santa Cruz filmmaker shows growing up can be murder with 'Frog and Wombat'

By Mary Spicuzza

With all the daily tribulations of growing up, you'd think it would be impossible to forget that adolescent feeling that adults just don't understand. But chances are any preteen will tell you that grownups don't know what it's like to be a kid. Ben Lomond writer, producer and director Laurie Agard, whose indie film Frog and Wombat is earning national praise, steps forward to prove that at least some adults understand "growing up can be murder." Her film explores the wild world of the suburbs as seen through the eyes of a creative pair of 11-year-old girls. Frog (Katie Stuart), a quirky, tortured artist fond of putting together skits and surveillance maneuvers, and her conservative, preacher's kid pal--radio code-name Wombat (Santa Cruz's Emily Lipoma)--decide to spy on their school's new principal and quickly become convinced he's a murderer. What follows is a sweet, realistic portrayal of young girls' friendships spiced up with mystery and humor. Filmed in Santa Cruz, Frog and Wombat features shots of neighborhood spots plus numerous local actors and crew members.

Frog's well-written script also drew experienced actors like Lindsay Wagner (of Bionic Woman fame), Ronny Cox and Party of Five's Ross Malinger. The film is the project of the two-year-old film company Pigtail Productions, a network of Central California producers led by Agard, "a very determined spirit," according to her co-worker, Nadine Porterfield. Several major Hollywood studios expressed interest in the film--one was contracting with Disney--but Agard opted to go indie instead. "It's not a big-budget film," Porterfield says, "but it has a lot of heart. Many girls at that age feel ignored, and I think it's empowering for them to see young women portrayed as capable, bright and adventurous." One 11-year-old slasher-flick fan--convinced Frog and Wombat was going to be lame, begging to rent Scream 2 instead--left the theatre grinning, "That was awesome! Frog is so cool."

Frog and Wombat (G), directed and written by Laurie Agard and starring Katie Stuar and Emily Lipoma.

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From the August 13-19, 1998 issue of Metro.

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