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Apology Service debuts at UNG
Students to show science fiction film Saturday night
Crew members film a scene of “The Apology Service” with star Ryan Littman. - photo by Photo courtesy of Cari Pilgrim

‘The Apology Service’ film premiere
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7
Where: Auditorium No. 232 Health and Natural Sciences Building, University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega
Cost: Free
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After months of blood, sweat and tears, “The Apology Service” is coming to an auditorium near you.

“It’s been a year in the making,” filmmaker Luke Pilgrim said. “We spent six months in pre-production, seven days of principle photography, like actually filming the movie, and then six months of post-production.”

“The Apology Service” is a part science-fiction, part drama that takes place in the not-too-distant future, where women and men  — like the main protagonist, Jackson — are hired to offer apologies at a person’s home or office.

The film will debut at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 in the University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus Health and Natural Sciences Building, Auditorium No. 232.

Last October, the two University of North Georgia seniors wrote the script for their first movie.

“I had this general idea of an apology service, a company that you hire to apologize in your stead,” Pilgrim said in a previous interview with The Times. “It’s sort of poking fun at our detachment and taking it a little deeper.”

Neither of them had ever written a script, which was an exciting experience for both.

“We probably spent three months just writing the script,” Pilgrim said.

Now, the two filmmakers are excited to show their handiwork to friends, families and other moviegoers.

Kennedy’s family lives in Dade County, but will attend the premiere.

“My family hasn’t seen any cuts of it,” Kennedy said. “I am excited for them to see.”

The concept originated with Pilgrim, but Kennedy quickly took to the ideas. The two men fine tuned the details. Pilgrim, 28, acted as director, while Kennedy, 22, acted as producer.

“We just hit it off,” Kennedy said. “We have similar styles and similar ideas toward movies. Being able to collaborate has been such a huge blessing for us.”

Each had their own previous experiences they brought to the table. Pilgrim created music videos with his band, Last November, before attending UNG in Dahlonega. And Kennedy has wanted to be a filmmaker since he can remember.

“I like to joke and say that it was after I gave up being a doctor and the president of the United States, that I went to the next logical step,” Kennedy said. “It’s always been a dream.”

The pair realized their idea could become a reality, using the film as their final class project.

“We ended up being able to do it as our senior show, which we were thrilled about,” Pilgrim said. “But we were going to make this movie regardless.”

The two UNG students raised money to fund their venture through Kickstarter, reaching their goal of $5,000 with a bonus of $600.

They planned the details before the camera started rolling, including finding locations to shoot the scenes. Some locales were in homes in Buford, Lawrenceville and Cleveland. UNG campus buildings also were utilized.

Specifically, the Newton Oakes Center was used, but the filmmakers claim you can’t tell it is a campus building. They also rented some filming and lighting equipment from the school.

“(The school officials) were so supportive of us, and they still are,” Kennedy said. “They’ve done a lot of stuff to promote us and tell other people. I think they’re really proud of what we’re doing, especially the visual arts department.”

The director and producer also had to build a robot, which is the lovable companion for the protagonist.

 “Luckily, my brother-in-law is super talented and he’s smart with electronics,” Pilgrim said. “He literally built AL-X out of scrap parts.”

“His body is made out of a Diaper Genie,” Kennedy said.

The two men then shot the film in seven days and took months to edit it down to 20 minutes and 53 seconds. Both accomplished this while attending school and working — Pilgrim at the school’s bookstore and Kennedy in the school’s undergraduate admissions office and Home Depot.

“We would get off work and spend four hours editing,” Kennedy said.

With it completed, they sent it to 20 festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, Slamdance in Los Angeles, the Atlanta Film Fest, Macon Film Festival and even Sundance.

“We submitted it to the festivals two weeks ago,” Pilgrim said. “They’re really good door-opening opportunities. If nothing else, it’s a really good way for people to see our art that we put so much time and effort into.”

And their hard work still continues. Pilgrim and Kennedy established a website, a Vimeo account, a Facebook page and a Twitter account to publicize their film.

“We’ve been making posts every other day, and it’s always about relative things going on,” Pilgrim said. “So we make custom videos or graphics. We had a mashup of our characters on a ‘Back to the Future’ poster.”

The duo hopes their efforts will match the effort of their actors.

“It became everyone’s movie,” Pilgrim said.

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