Listen: David and Lorenzo Henrie chat to Laura Bennett
Watching teen flicks is pretty much a rite of passage.
From hugely formative tales like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, to 10 Things I Hate About You and Mean Girls, we all have a movie that was the backdrop to our high school experience, or shaped the dream of what we wanted it to be like.
This year’s Year-12-ers know all too well how unexpected the end of your school life can be, and brothers David (Wizards of Waverely Place) and Lorenzo Henrie (Fear the Walking Dead) are there to help them find their way through, with the online premiere of their new movie This is the Year.
Taking a family-friendly, modern approach to famous teen films of the 80’s and 90’s, Lorenzo stars as Josh – a nerdy high-school senior who’s making a last ditch attempt to win over the girl of his dreams (Zoey), by taking his friends on a road trip to see their favourite band at the biggest music festival of the year.
Directed and written by David Henrie, what sounds like a normal coming-of-age story is one he was set on using as a vehicle to update old ‘teen drama’ tropes, and offer audiences an uplifting escape from a tough season.
“I wanted to make [a teen] film, but put ‘new wine into and old wine skin’ and do the updated modern version of it,” said David. “I wanted to do a good feel-good ‘popcorn’ film, because I feel like the whole world needs that right now.”
Executive-Produced by Selena Gomez, Friend and Former Co-star
Fellow WoWP alumni and on-screen sister Selena Gomez was an executive producer on the movie.
David says Selena – a close friend since since Wizards wrapped in 2012 – backed his vision to reimagine teen stereotypes – especially those of the female love interest, or ‘popular girl’.
“[Selena] said, ‘Let’s join forces on it; I know so much about it’,” said David, “and she really loved the message and loved how we dealt with our female characters by giving them a more contemporary role.
“In a lot of films in the 70s, 80s, 90s, the ‘pretty girl’ or the ‘hot girl’… was always one note, and didn’t have a lot of depth, and didn’t have a full [character] arc.
“… We wanted to put that trope on its head and so we purposely made [Zoey] a very complex and layered character who’s fighting with the stigma of being the ‘pretty girl’, but on the inside being so much more than that, and not wanting the ‘pretty girl’ [label].”
How to Handle Life’s Unknowns
In a time where many HSC students are grappling with an end to their school career that looks nothing like what they expected, Lorenzo Henrie’s character Josh gives also teens an example of how to deal with turmoil and handle life’s unknowns.
“I think a lot of [school leavers] can resonate with the character arc in Josh, because the time is ticking,” said Lorenzo. “It’s your final year and you may not see any of these kids ever again. And so it’s the time to be brave, to be bold, and to have that fortitude to overcome whatever fears you’re going through.”
Josh’s dilemma cements one of the main themes of This is Year: expectation versus reality – a concept David really wanted to explore on screen.
“Expectation versus reality is a thing that I’ve always really struggled with being in the entertainment business,” said David, “but I feel like a lot of young people can sympathise with it as well, because we’re all so overwhelmed by images – through social media, through movies, through TV shows – and it can give us certain expectations for life that aren’t always the reality, especially when it comes to something like love.”
A Tough Journey Towards Parenthood
Expectations of life has been quite a personal topic for David and his wife Maria – who’ve experienced four miscarriages in their journey to becoming parents.
It’s something David reflects on as they celebrate the life of their daughter and announce the news they’re expecting a son.
“[Those miscarriages] show where you expect one thing in marriage, and reality’s not always the same,” David said. “But reality itself always, I’ve found, presents an opportunity for the good not matter what. The good is always present if we just find it and hope in it… And that’s what [Maria and I] have tried to focus on… it hasn’t always been easy, but we do our best to find the good.”
An Invite to the Online Premiere
For those that join the online premiere the Henrie brothers hope it inspires them to make the most of challenging times, and let this be the year they decide to show love to others in need.
Reflected in the acronym of one of their premiere partners, ‘F.A.M.I.L.Y: Forget About Me I Love You’ Lorenzo said, “This is the year to forget about ourselves and to love someone else… We really feel that this title was providential when we named it a year and a half ago to be coming out in 2020, because this is the year to have an opportunity to grow in something that you never thought you would grow in.”
This is the Year kicks off its live online premiere pre-show at 9:30am AEST, Saturday, August 29, with a replay link available for 48hrs after the event.
The premiere will feature a live Q&A session with David Henrie and Selena Gomez, as well as an afterparty hosted by TikTok superstars Charli & Dixie D’Amelio, and a mini-concert from platinum selling artists lovelytheband.
Use promo code david20 for $2USD off the ticket price.