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Dahlonega-based filmmakers to stream movie, Sunny Side Drive, online Feb. 2
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Sozo Bear Films owners Luke Pilgrim, left, and Brad Kennedy will stream their film “Sunny Side Drive” on Feb. 2.

‘Sunny Side Drive’ online premier and question-and-answer session
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2
Where: Live on www.facebook.com/sozobearfilms
Cost: Free

Ash and the rest of the cast in “Sunny Side Drive” will blast off on Facebook during the short film’s premiere Thursday, Feb. 2.

The film is the latest from Luke Pilgrim and Brad Kennedy’s Dahlonega-based Sozo Bear Films.

“Sunny Side Drive” follows the story of 12-year-old Ash, played by Grady Port, and his suspicions about a new neighbor, played by Ryan Littman. The 12-minute movie begins with Ash crashing a homemade rocket ship in his new neighbor’s yard. After catching glimpses of the neighbor and comparing him to stories from his comic books, he becomes convinced his neighbor is a robot.

Kennedy and Pilgrim previously told The Times “Sunny Side Drive” is a family film with a moral tale. The biggest theme is not jumping to conclusions.

“The idea is it’s our imagination running free,” Pilgrim said. “Brad and I relate to that character. We both had overactive imaginations growing up.”

The filmmakers are planning an online premier party after 8 p.m. Feb. 2 on Facebook live on Sozo Bear Film’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/sozobearfilms. Following will be a question-and-answer session with the Kennedy and Pilgrim, the movie’s cast, the writer and the composer.

Sozo Bear Films did a large premier for its last film, “The Apology Service,” with more than 300 people in attendance.

“This one is such a short film it was just going to be difficult to put together a public event,” Pilgrim said.

The premier also falls on the one year anniversary of Sozo Bear Films and Luke’s birthday. Pilgrim and Kennedy plan to have a “Sunny Side Drive” cake that night.

“It’s pretty exciting because we also can see the impact the film is having on people almost instantaneously,” Kennedy said of having the premier on Facebook live.

The whole process of making the movie took a year. The film’s concept came about in January 2016 when writer Adam Neal brought several concepts to Pilgrim and Kennedy. They chose one about a robot neighbor and toned it down, eventually telling it as a story based on a child’s imagination.

Composer Phillip Arthur Simmons, who is originally from Cleveland but lives in Dublin, Ireland, created the music for the film.

“He did a fantastic job,” Pilgrim said of Simmons, adding he understood the filmmakers desire to have a sound similar to the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas films of their childhood.

The film was shot in three days in Hiawassee and wrapped when the cast jumped in the lake — which was not part of the film.

“Sunny Side Drive” has a nostalgic vibe and is a childhood adventure story, Pilgrim said. The toys shown in Ash’s room were actually Pilgrim’s and Kennedy’s childhood toys.

Grady Port, who was 12 at the time of filming, impressed the filmmakers so much they used him in a commercial for a different project.

“He’s a top-notch actor,” Pilgrim said. “He’s really young, but really capable. He gets things quickly and you don’t have to tell him a million times. He’s a great actor.”

Pilgrim and Kennedy plan to submit “Sunny Side Drive” to film festivals, specifically short film and science-fiction festivals.

They are also working on a feature-length screenplay and planning to shoot another short film soon.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/sozobearfilms.

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