How 'Wizards of Waverly Place' Helped David Henrie Pick the 'Perfect Band' for 'This Is the Year'

Actor David Henrie has taken his passion for film behind the camera with his latest project. In addition to working with past Wizards of Waverly Place co-stars on the movie, another connection from the Disney Channel series made its way into the film. Here’s why the real band at the center of This Is the Year was the “perfect” choice.

‘Wizards of Waverly Place’s David Henrie directed his first film

Henrie is known for starring in the sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place, which aired from 2007-2012. He portrayed Justin Russo, a teenage boy competing for his family’s magical abilities against his siblings, Alex (Selena Gomez) and Max (Jake T. Austin).

Years later, Henrie wrote and directed his first feature film, This Is the Year, which debuts on August 28, 2020, in a virtual premiere event. The project reunited him with Gomez and Gregg Sulkin, who played Mason Greyback on Wizards of Waverly Place.

‘This is the Year’ is a love letter to ’80s teen movies

This Is the Year follows a high school senior, Josh, and his friends on a road trip to a music festival to see his favorite music group, Lovelytheband. Along the way, the group learns a lot about themselves and one another as they overcome various obstacles, all in the name of art and love.

Henrie describes the movie as “a love letter to a lot of the ’80s movies that inspired me growing up” in an interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “I’ve always been a fan of coming-of-age teen films, especially in a high school setting, because they just deal with such primal themes that are meaningful and impactful,” he said of his choice of genre.

Henrie on finding Lovelytheband

“I knew the movie was going to end to an epic song,” said Henrie of framing the plot around a festival. “I didn’t know who the band was,” he added, “but I knew it meant everything to the film. The film would be made or broken on that. So when we actually got financed, and it was time to shoot it, we needed to find the perfect band.”

“I knew I needed a band that could be a character in the film and have presence, but also have this great song in the end,” Henrie said of his search for the musical act. “Lovelytheband fit all of that. And at the time, ‘Broken’ was a huge hit on the radio,” he added of the group’s 2017 debut single.

The ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ connection

Not only did Lovelytheband have everything Henrie was looking for, but there was a fun connection there. “It just so happened that the guitarist’s father created Wizards of Waverly Place,” he said. (Todd J. Greenwald, the show’s creator, is the father of Lovelytheband member Jordan Greenwald.)

This was entirely a happy accident, according to Henrie. But the link made it clear that Lovelytheband was the best choice for This Is the Year. “Once we connected all those dots, it was like a big family again,” Henrie continued. “It was perfect.”

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