Runtime: 11 mins
Director: Jenna MacMillan
Bats, a worker at a group home, is tasked with bringing Laura, a hardened teenager, to SunnySide, a facility that deals with tough cases, after Laura hurt a girl at the group home. Along the way, as Bats’ marriage falls apart, and Laura attempts to escape, the two come to understand personal and revelatory details about each other’s lives.
Ultimately, my aim with SUNNYSIDE was to create a raw, gritty, awkward cinematic experience that mimics real life.
Jenna MacMillan is an East Coast director living in Toronto. Her directing achievements include her short film, NOT MY BROTHER (Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax; Au Contraire, Montreal; ScreenIT Film Festival in Queensland, Australia, Award for Best Film).
Jenna is in development with Telefilm Canada for a feature adaptation of NOT MY BROTHER with screenwriter, Blain Watters (SLEEPING GIANT, BETWEEN).
She’s directed music videos with esteemed musical artists (Rose Cousins, The East Pointers, KINLEY, SORREY). She and KINLEY won a 2018 ECMA for Fan’s Choice Video of the Year for MICROPHONE and is now included in the Sexual Education curriculum for junior high school students on PEI. Her short documentaries have been integrated into the PEI health care system to promote abortion access and mental health awareness.
Jenna holds multiple producing credits, including A SMALL FORTUNE (2016 NSI Features First recipient), A BLESSING FROM THE SEA (2016 Harold Greenberg Shorts to Features), and she is the first Canadian producer to be awarded funding from Telefilm’s Talent to Watch Program, the Independent Production Fund, and the Bell Fund for a single digital series, WHARF RATS (2018). She recently received the prestigious DGC Ontario & WIFT Toronto Directing mentorship and is an alumnae of Ryerson University’s Film Production program. Jenna has also been selected for the Women in the Director’s Chair Program (2015), Directed by Women (2016) and the WIFT-T Script Incubator Program (2018). She works as the Director of Production and Development for Northwood Entertainment (ANNE WITH AN E, THE GRIZZLIES).
This film is close to my heart- my father was a manager of youth residential homes for fifteen years. My mother taught a youth working program in a college setting for two decades. They often spoke about how critical it was to have advocates for youth whose innocence was often lost without their consent.
I wanted to tell a story about real people doing important work and the cyclical impact of trauma on both the youth and the worker. The themes are relevant and underrepresented. In order to do this film and its story justice, I knew I needed to focus on directing which is why I reached out to Blain Watters who has his own unique connection to the material. His mother also managed youth residential homes and he has ten foster sisters – we bonded over this fact instantly. His writing has a unique and powerful ability to handle difficult situations with humour, authenticity and grace.