Spotlight On – Luke Pilgrim & Brad Kennedy

Interview with Georgia filmmakers – Luke Pilgrim & Brad Kennedy of SOZO BEAR FILMS.

How long have you been working in film and how did you get your start?

We’ve been directing and producing short films together since 2014 when we began collaborating in film school at the University of North Georgia. We really got our start professionally from our senior capstone project which was a short film called ​The Apology Service.​ We landed our first client because of that short film and from there we began our own production company, Sozo Bear Films.

The Apology Service – A Sozo Bear Original Short Film (2015) from Sozo Bear Films on Vimeo.

Tell us about your current project?

Our current project is called Encounters. It’s a sci-fi/horror short film anthology series akin to The ​Twilight Zone​ & ​Black Mirror.​ Each episode will explore different types of encounters with Extraterrestrial Life through one unifying theme… Be Careful What You Wish For.

We’re currently in the crowdfunding stages of this project through Seed&Spark. We’ll be crowdfunding until Friday, June 21st and will hopefully begin filming the next episodes some time this Fall. https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/encounters.

What is your approach to filmmaking and why is that a strength?

As a directing duo, we benefit from the use of two minds working together to write and direct our films. We can always rely on each other to be honest if we think an idea isn’t working. It’s really beneficial to have that other person to constantly bounce ideas off of and ultimately come up with the best solution together.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing as an independent filmmaker?

I think the constant challenge that we face and all independent filmmakers face is just securing the funding to create the exciting projects that we have already envisioned in our minds. Like we mentioned before, we’re currently in the crowdfunding stage with plans to utilize our talented producer, Terrell Sandefur to help us secure the full budget for Encounters. The challenge is always, “you have to have the means to make it.”

What are some of the challenges you’re facing as an independent filmmaker in Georgia specifically?

The main challenges we face in Georgia are when we need a location that doesn’t quite fit the look of the landscape around here. For instance, we have an episode of Encounters​ that is about cavemen and the “First Encounter” with extraterrestrial life. So we are currently working on creative ideas for how we will achieve that desert/cave look on a budget.

Have you ever considered leaving Georgia to pursue filmmaking elsewhere, if yes where and why, if no what about Georgia filmmaking keeps you here?

We’re both Georgia natives and we’ve been lucky to come into our own profession during a time of great boom in the Georgia Film community. We really don’t see ourselves leaving Georgia to pursue filmmaking elsewhere. Georgia is our home and honestly we have a great family of cast and crew that live and work in the state as well that we couldn’t work with if we left the state. As we see it, we can easily create our art here, so why leave to do so somewhere else where we won’t already have a strong supportive base.

Why is independent film important?

Independent film is important because it helps democratize filmmaking. If it wasn’t for independent filmmaking, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to put our films out to the world, because we wouldn’t have the means to create films. Luckily now with cheaper and better digital cameras, local film festivals, and a lot of creativity, you can make your art and grow an audience for it. We feel like we’ve been evidence of that and we hope other filmmakers take the same opportunities.

What do you see as the future of independent film production for Georgia?

We see Georgia continuing to build a strong identity of filmmakers and artists. We think that the longer Georgia directors are putting out amazing artwork, the more the world will acknowledge that the South has a distinctive voice that should be paid attention to. We’re already seeing strides in the formation of this identity, but we believe that it will be even more evident in the near future.

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