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Cell phone movie’s song takes center stage

Singer-songwriter Ben Lear performs "Imaginary Friends" at a screening of the film "Olive" on Jan. 26.

The locally produced film Olive is garnering a lot of attention, and not only because it was shot entirely on a cell phone. The film’s theme song, “Imaginary Friends,” written by up-and-comer Ben Lear (son of TV producer Norman Lear), made it to the final rounds for an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

Local Alice radio DJ Hooman Khalili, codirector of the film, reached out to Lear in 2010 when Lear was wrapping up his first album, Lillian: A Folk Opera. Lear’s album fit the movie like a glove, so the musician didn’t skip a beat in working on the film. The lyrics of “Imaginary Friends” deal with heartbreak, loss, and loneliness—obstacles that the three leads in the film attempt to overcome through their relationship with a mysterious young girl, Olive, who does not speak. At a special premiere screening last week at the Metreon, Lear performed the song live.

Olive is part of the film’s fictional narrative, but the support and inner strength that she symbolizes isn’t too far off from Khalili’s own childhood imaginary friends, Ralph and Cowboy Man. “I always had holes in my pants at the knees because we would climb trees and hunt for things together,” Khalili told us. See the film’s trailer here, or listen to the song here. Read our coverage of the film in our recent issue here.