David Henrie has managed to deliver exactly what the world needed, a feel-good movie. During a time of uncertainty, Henrie teamed up with his pal Selena Gomez to bring some light to these dark times. This Is The Year is a film about hope. It is a film about understanding yourself and realizing that life isn’t always like the movies. This realistic representation breaks the barriers of female friendships, showcasing women building each other up, rather than tearing them down. It nods to David’s favorite 80’s films, while adding a modern twist. We can all agree that 2020 has not been the year, but it is the time for a movie like this. This is a film that you should enjoy with the people you love, because it will bring a smile to your face.
David Henrie has also managed to group together the perfect cast to bring this film to life, starting with his younger brother, Lorenzo Henrie (Josh). David and Lorenzo have worked tirelessly to produce this film. Vanessa Marano (Molly) is no stranger to producing and starring in a film, so she was able to understand the process and appreciate what the Henries were doing. Jake Short (Mikey) and Alyssa Jirrels (Zoey) made a great addition to the cast and you can see that the dynamic between this ensemble is truly something special.
During the casting process, Henrie knew the perfect person to take on the lead role. David’s brother, Lorenzo Henrie, stars in the film as Josh. David reveals, “I knew he could pull it off. He just came off of Fear of the Walking Dead, so he was available. I knew that the enemy of all independent films is time, so whoever the lead was going to be needed to trust me and I trust him. That was my brother. It was kind of a win-win-win because we didn’t have the luxury of having fifty takes, we don’t have that time. It was two to three takes, you’re done, move on. Thankfully my brother was able to pull it off in that crazy window.” David and Lorenzo treated each other for auditions their whole life, but this is the first time they joined forces on a project this big. David shares, “It was great. We had such a short hand. He knew what I was thinking before I’d say it. I knew what he was thinking before he said it. We got to the point much quicker, I think because we’re brothers. It was a joy. There was of course funny moments, where he would say a brotherly comment to me that you wouldn’t normally say to a director and vice versa. That was the sort of humor on set, it was funny. It was a good time.”
With this being Lorenzo’s first time producing a film under their company, the experience was new territory. As he reveals, “We would wrap super late, I’d be up super early because Dave would be like, ‘Lorenzo, get to my hotel room, I want to practice some shots with you.’ I didn’t sleep for like sixty days.” Lorenzo continues, “David and I grew up child actors so we really grew up on movies that you were entertained with. You would go there, get popcorn, you’d just have fun. So this movie, I hope everyone takes away that you can enjoy it with the family, you can enjoy it by yourself, you can just sit there and escape and go on this awesome fun journey.”
Vanessa Marano is no stranger to producing and starring in a film. When Marano found out David Henrie was directing a film starring his brother Lorenzo, she was in. Vanessa shares, “Coming off having done Saving Zoë with my sister and my mom producing, I was super drawn to the idea of another child actor turning into [an] adult performer, taking their career into their own hands, making a project happen. I really wanted to be part of it. Also it’s like a happy film, which is also new for me.” Lorenzo took part in every single one of Vanessa’s auditions. Marano admits, “It’s so funny because originally I wasn’t on the first tier of auditioning for this. I don’t know why. I think it’s probably because I play mostly sarcastic characters. Bay Kennish [Switched At Birth] was a little bit more on the sarcastic side than Molly Jenkins is.” Nevertheless, Vanessa loved taking on this role. “She’s a fun character. I don’t think I’ve had that much fun playing somebody in a really long time.”
There is a really strong dynamic among the cast of This Is The Year. “Shooting locations, it does bring you together,” Jake Short says. “It forces you to be in the same place all the time, for six weeks. [Alyssa and I] didn’t share a storyline that often. Whenever she would work, I would be off. Whenever I was working, she would be off. We only got a few fun nights off during the week. We definitely made it count on the weekends.” It seems like we need to make everything we do these days count. Or as Short says, “I’ve seen quite a few comments out there saying, ‘This is not the year.’ But, this is the year. This is the year for this movie.” He shares that he hasn’t seen an uplifting teen movie like this in quite some time. “It’s upbeat the whole movie, we’re constantly moving. You have a different dynamic with me and Bug, and Lorenzo and Vanessa as best friends and Alyssa and Lorenzo and their character dynamic. I think you get a love story and you get to see why it’s not so perfect.”
One of the strongest aspects to This Is The Year is the music. Alyssa Jirrels agrees, “It has a really cool soundtrack, too. They sent us a playlist beforehand that had all the music and there was some really cool stuff on there. We have lovelytheband, which is a great band. There’s a lot of elements that just kind of really catapult you into it. It’s a cool place to live for a couple of hours and get out of all this.” After a conversation with their A&R, Don Robertson, lovelytheband landed their cameo in the film. The film premieres ahead of the band’s brand new album conversations with myself about you. When it came to filming, the band members admit, “The actual filming process was really cool. David Henrie, the director, is the coolest dude, so he made it really easy for us. We’ve done music videos before this, but this was definitely on a larger scale. We did a bunch of different performance-style shots, so it definitely felt natural for us. Jordan actually has known David for a while—he was in his dad’s TV show growing up—so it was pretty insane that everything worked out the way it did.”
This Is The Year is now available for purchase/rent across all streaming platforms.