Josh Loewen, during production. SUPPLIED

Locals’ video features in Hamilton Fringe Festival

July 14 to 25 is the Hamilton Fringe Festival for 2021, with some 30 companies sharing their theatre productions online and socially distanced outdoors. Family-friendly performances of all genres are being showcased over the 12 days of the festival.

Sunny Days Ahead, a video produced by two friends, began streaming online on July 15. The show, written by Josh Loewen, videoed by Alex Sykes, and directed and performed by Loewen and Sykes, is a 35-minute short film that takes on the joys and fears of the future.

“We’ve found out that one of the scariest times in our lives looking into the future was when we were graduating high school,” said Sykes, who is 21. “There’s a lot of uncertainty and also during this time of a pandemic we found that looking into the future was just this scary, vague, clouded sort of thing and so we wanted to explore how we could maybe make the future less scary and what joy lies ahead.”

Alex Sykes. SUPPLIED

The story follows a teenager named Walt as he tries to plan out his life after high school with his best friend Pete. Full of comedy and diving into relationships, life, dreams and the future, Sunny Days Ahead shines a light on what’s to come as Walt and Pete attempt to figure out what the future holds for them. It starts at the very beginning of time and through genres including animation, musical, western, romance and comedy, the different stages of life are explored.

Both Loewen and Sykes have lived in the Niagara Region or more specifically in Pelham for a large portion of their lives and is where their show was created and filmed.

They met in high school and were both on the improv team. Additionally, they both attended Brock University in the dramatic arts program. Loewen, being older than Sykes at 24, graduated last spring, while Sykes will be going into his fourth year.

The first show that Loewen and Sykes did together was in the summer of 2019 and this year, they created their own production company called Pondside Media.

“We’ve gotten a bunch of equipment recently and so we’re hoping to actually work with other artists or maybe small businesses to help them create the video content that they are trying to make and have envisioned. So this project, Sunny Days Ahead, is actually the first project under Pondside Media,” said Sykes.

He also shared that making this show with Loewen, who he is really close to, was an opportunity that not many people in the art industry get to do.

“Making this piece with a really close friend of mine was really special and I think that the show also kind of explores that maybe the relationships that we have in our lives are the most important thing. I think that it’s an interesting dynamic that the show is sort of exploring and the same thing that we were exploring as we were making the show.”

I think that the show also kind of explores that maybe the relationships that we have in our lives are the most important thing

According to Sykes, making the short film was an interesting challenge for them, but with their experience in theatre and improv applied to the project, he believes trying this new medium really paid off.

In addition to creating their first film, finding time away from their regular lives to work on the project and filming with Covid-19 restrictions also contributed to the challenge.

Sykes said that he and Loewen had to figure out solutions to stay safe while filming.

“It made things a little bit interesting at times and we still had to do a lot of planning of how we would be able to do the filming that we wanted to do.”

With Sunny Days Ahead largely focusing on finding happiness and exploring the joys of life, Sykes said that, for him, it can be difficult to see all the good things all the time and to find the happy moments day-to-day. He added that this show is a great reminder to actively look for moments of happiness and times of joy especially right now with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re really hoping that a lot of people will come and see the show because I think that it’s relevant to a lot of people and maybe in different ways than it’s relevant to us. I hope that a lot of people will be able to find something from the show and walk away feeling joyful from this year and a half that has not really been that.”

Sunny Days Ahead is available to view until July 25, with tickets through