Julian Dennison, our young male romantic “BENI”
Every day we turn up and get straight into it. Pick up cast, arrive at location, discuss the scene, block, discuss coverage, and line up to (usually) shoot sequentially.
Last weekend brought the introduction of a wonderful character, as well as the wrap of Nova Waretini-Hewison.
INTRODUCING JULIAN DENNISON
Julian plays Beni in the film, the crush of Summer, who’s played by Nova.
Nova and Julian met at the 2013 NZ Film Awards where Nova was nominated for Best Actress and Julian won Best Supporting Actor for Shopping.
We didn’t have a Beni cast when we started shooting. When I met with Nova and talked through the script and character, I asked her who she’d like to work with as her on screen crush. A boy her age, somebody she could have fun with and who could act.
It took her probably three seconds to say Julian. They’d met, she told me, but they hadn’t worked together.
I knew Julian’s name from a few places. He was in Taika Waititi’s Drug Driving advert, had recently starred in kiwi feature film Shopping, and out of sheer coincidence, I’d met him before at his school.
About fourteen months previous, I’d spoken at Naenae school about how cool reading is as part of a Duffy Books in Homes tour I did. After the assembly, one of the teachers asked if I could come to her class and meet a particular student.
‘He’s just been in a film, actually,’ she told me.
Shopping hadn’t been released yet, but when this young dude walked into the room with a rakish smile and relaxed confidence, it was clear he was a movie star.
Finding Julian to cast him was remarkably simple. I rang the school but he’d left. I rang his mum and he was there. Done. I explained the project, brought up Nova, and emailed through some excerpts and the film’s outline. I’d have to wait a couple of weeks for a reply though due to Julian and his mum flying to Berlin to promote his new film Paper Planes.
I met with Julian, Mabelle and Christian, Julian’s twin, at McCafe. We had some iced chocolates and I showed them footage of Nova. Julian was excited and Mabelle and Christian were keen for a cameo so we made some dates and got straight into it.
Well, I say straight into it but bad weather and availability clashes put us off for two weekends. Two weekends isn’t long but it felt like a lifetime to me. I was so excited to get these guys on screen! Finally, we scored a weekend where Nova, Julian, myself, Simeon and Michelle were all free… except there was a catch.
Nova was only available in the morning. Michelle was only available in the afternoon. Julian was only available that one day. In the end, we did some creative scheduling.
We had an hour to get Nova and Michelle’s shots, one hour to get Nova and Julian’s shots, then the rest of the afternoon to get a scene that originally had Nova starring in it, but had been rewritten to feature only Julian and myself.
And guess what? Oh yes. We got it all and it looks … wait for it … AMAZING.
After a beautiful morning in a sun-dappled park, we dined on bagels then filmed our nice simple scene where Christian and Mabelle cameoed.
We had one fantastic day with Julian and got some really, really cute footage. Bitter sweetly, the ‘date’ scene with Julian was Nova’s final scene to shoot so we tearily bid farewell to our wonderful Summer.
Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot wait to show you the beautiful and talented Nova Waretini-Hewison along with the coolest cat in in town Julian Dennison in this film. They are adorable.
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