Finally, a movie about 20-somethings from Mississauga
"A labour of love is just getting to do what you love under some great circumstances with some great people," says Julian De Zotti. Julian is a Toronto actor and the star/producer of New Year a coming of age movie about twenty-somethings in Mississauga. He and I are at Darkhorse on Queen East sitting near the window. The sun is blinding and we have to squint to see each other.
When Julian emailed me out of the blue about New Year, I was intrigued for two reasons. One, it's an amazing feat for an actor to make a movie in Canada, especially without government support. It was, as Julian says, "all private money, family and friends and our own investments." And two, I think a twenty-something coming of age story is apt nowadays.
"New Year is particular to this generation. It's difficult to figure out what your passion is because of the options and the choices out there. It's the idea of figuring out what you want to do with your life and growing up at the same time. With other generations, you didn't have much of choice. You had to support your family, bottom line. Now, you come out of school and there are so many choices and so many opportunities. Instead of being decisive, you feel really overwhelmed. This idea of figuring out your life and following your passion, it's a luxury, but a weighted one."
Is New Year autobiographical? Did it come to be during Julian and director Phil Borg's own coming of age? Was it something they experienced together, growing up as best friends and neighbours in Mississauga attending the same schools, living the same life?
"I was doing my obligatory going to Europe and finding myself, and the director, Phil was studying. I had started writing some scenes that he read and he said 'let's make a film.' We didn't know what the scale was, he was going to be done school in a couple months, and we were both out of work, so we were trying to keep ourselves busy. We worked on the script on and off for a year, and then we got our money, and we shot the film in 10 days. I always knew what I wanted to do, I just didn't think it would be possible."
I ask him if by making the movie, he was trying to make being an actor more possible.
"It was getting to the point where I felt that I was just waiting for phone calls. I would be doing theatre or starting my own company but I was still very much a stranger to film and T.V. There are so many ways to do it but I just felt like, why not make a movie? It comes from wanting to work. You wait for the call and if it doesn't come, you need to do your own thing. I learned an incredible amount in ten days."
Ten days is a difficult shoot, especially with little money. What motivated other actors and crew to become involved?
"People wanted to work and they really liked the script. We were together for such a short time. We shot at my parent's house in Mississauga, and it was like our own party that we had together. We became a family."
After so much hard work was seeing the film everything he'd hoped?
"I felt good the first time after I saw the film. Phil and I have been making films together since elementary school, and we wanted to make films about people that we've grown up with and tell our own story. We were hoping that we could make a movie that spoke to our generation. On the whole, from writing it on paper, and then to shooting it and editing it, it is always a different movie. To see it on screen is always quite thrilling."
At the end of the interview, I finish my tea and put on my coat. "Julian, is there anything you want to add?" I ask.
"Come see the movie and give me work!" he laughs.
Writing and photo by Katie Boland
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