Soozie Eastman, an LA-based film producer originally from Louisville, KY, became inspired to shoot the feature length documentary “By The Wayside” after a very meaningful run-in with a homeless woman who would pass away only two weeks later. Telling the story of people on a journey as they struggle to rebuild their lives, her film captures Vietnam vet camps, a man who shares an abandoned home with an opossum, and most promisingly, a choir of recovered, homeless addicts who use the power of their music to maintain their sobriety and stay off the streets.
It was at the Vail Film Festival where “The 27 Club” director Erica Dunton met Soozie after the first screening of “By the Wayside.” Moved by the stories and images she had just seen, Erica became propelled to somehow include portions of the documentary in her own film. A year would pass until all had finally come together. Erica
had the script locked, using several actual lines of dialogue from “By the Wayside” for her homeless characters. She asked Soozie to arrange the Down by the Wayside Choir to come to Wilmington, North Carolina, to star in the film.
Never having been on a film set before, the 22-member choir from the Wayside Christian Mission in Louisville embarked on the adventure. They may sing at least three times a week for local and national churches and shelters, giving their testimony of where they have been, inspiring people to avoid problems with drugs and alcohol and also serving as mentors for people wanting to escape homelessness and addiction, but three 12-hour days on a film set proved to be a whole new experience for them.