Local filmmakers take music video to the stars

  • Grammy winning musician and Dahlonega resident Amy Ray prepares for liftoff during a music video filming with Luke Pilgrim of Sozo Bear Films.
    Grammy winning musician and Dahlonega resident Amy Ray prepares for liftoff during a music video filming with Luke Pilgrim of Sozo Bear Films.
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On first glance, it’s an out-of-this-world production, but a behind the scenes look at the new music video for Amy Ray’s song Holler, produced by Dahlonega’s own Sozo Bear Films, proves that it all took place not only in this world, but in this very community.
The official video for Holler, released on July 17, takes the viewer on an intergalactic journey, starting with Amy Ray, calmly cruising through outer space in a rocketship and ending with a crash-landing that has the artist watching her life flash before her eyes.
While the video creates a powerful and chilling narrative, it also creates a question: how did Amy Ray get into space in the first place?
“This one actually came about while we were filming Dadgum Down, which was the post-apocalyptic music video,” Luke Pilgrim said. “We were filming that, and I kinda said something, sort of suggesting just off-hand, like ‘it would be cool to do something outer space,’ didn’t really have, concepts or anything like that, but she thought it was a really cool idea, so after that, it was like once I put that in her mind, that was the direction she wanted to go so Brad and I sat down and basically listened to the song about 8 million times and just came up with ideas about how could this space imagery work with this song, and the more we thought about it, the more it seemed to really make sense.”
“Water seemed like the obvious choice, but she already had the idea about space and we liked that direction,” Brad Kennedy said. “We just wanted to try to challenge ourselves to not do what, when you listen to a song on an album, not go exactly in that direction.”
It also helps that Kennedy, Pilgrim and Ray are all avid fans of sci-fi.
“Sci-fi has always kind of been the genre that Luke and I are most interested in and we like to explore,” Kennedy said. [We’re] big fans of Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies and stuff like that. A lot of our short films have been in that realm so it’s really cool and that’s the awesome thing about working with Amy is that she’s a fan of sci-fi as well and she just kind of lets us create these dream, sci-fi worlds that we can explore with the latest record.”
But while both parties wanted to pair the song with a cool, outer space video, making the video and song connect was more important than spicy cinematics.
“We have these science-fiction ideas but we make sure that it also serves the narrative of the song,” Kennedy said. “We listened to the song close to a million times just to really try to figure out, what the emotional theme was trying to say.”
“She’s not interested in making a music video just to have one for a song, she wants to make sure that the music video is a work of art on its own,” Pilgrim said. “So I think that’s why she’s so much fun to work with, she’s looking to make a piece of art to compliment the song. She wants to make sure that the music video can stand alone as a work of art as well.”
Once they were able to make the space narrative fit together with the song, the guys of Sozo Bear had to figure out how to get the singer into space. With Elon Musk’s proposed commercial travel packages not yet available to the public, and likely not within the video’s budget, the two settled on the next best thing: Pilgrim’s basement.
“All the locations were literally my basement, the woods behind my house and then my guest room was the room at the end of the video, so we were very frugal and very economical with where we filmed,” Pilgrim said.
Led by their creative juices and sci-fi movie research, Pilgrim and Kennedy managed to construct the entire set with “things we could get on Amazon.”
“We built it out of everything that we could find,” Pilgrim said. “I just happened to find the porthole window at an antique store. I went to an antique store with my wife and I get out of the car and the first thing I saw was the porthole window which was actually a washing machine window. Like an old washing machine, one of those front loading types.”
And a fancy fake space shuttle would be nothing without a fancy fake space suit, which required more creative outbursts.
“Renting a space suit ended up being about the cost, if not more than the budget, of the whole entire video,” Kennedy said. “We realized that wasn’t the course of action for us and we needed to be more creative when coming up with the costume, we did a lot of research and kind of just thinking outside the box. The only thing that didn’t come used from something else is the helmet. There was a guy that we found on eBay and he makes these custom prop helmets for a space suit.”
At the end of it all, the finished product looked as though it were actually shot in space, which Kennedy still finds impressive.
“For an outer space music video, it’s crazy to think that everything was filmed in Dahlonega, Georgia,” Kennedy said. “It’s really cool to see what a community can do when you are faced with a task like this and everyone pulls together and makes something really awesome.”