New Hope Club-inspired short film “School Year 2007” takes a trip down 2000s memory lane.
Inspired by New Hope Club’s current single “Just Don’t Know It Yet”, the short feature “School Year 2007” explores innocent love, serendipity, and missed chances. Directed by Geo Lomuntad and Project 8 Projects, and starring JC Alcantara and Kaori Oinuma, the film reframes the song’s heartfelt lyrics and wistful chorus to remind us of the power and pain of infatuation.
WATCH 'School Year 2007' on New Hope Club's YouTube Channel here:
May 01, 2023 was a night to remember as George and Reece of New Hope Club graced the Philippine Red Carpet Premiere of 'School Year 2007' at the Red Capret Theatre, EDSA Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong. The private event was also attended by the short-film's Director, Direk Geo, and the leading actor, JC Alacantara.
George Smith and Reece Bibby of New Hope Club. Photo by Ara May Tanagon
(L-R) Sam Alvero, Reece Bibby and George Smith of New Hope Club, JC Alcantara, Direk Geo. Photo by Ara May Tanagon
Filipino The Club, the band's fans were also at the venue to celebrate the kick-off premiere in Southeast Asia. After the Philippines, the short-film trilogy continues in Thailand and Indonesia.
Behind the Story
Director Geo recalls the nostalgia of high school, innocence, and love when asked about inspiration: “I have always been inspired by the mid-2000s. I was in high school at that time. It was [during] those years that I experienced my first love and my first heartbreak. I wanted to share this feeling with other people, and that's why I came up with the story. I want them to relate to it, I want them to see themselves in our characters and relive their high school years in our film.”
These recollections were woven into a screenplay by Mark Raywin Tome, another talented production team member. But, of course, turning music into a full-blown narrative is an entirely different beast - one that Director Geo confirms relied heavily on collaboration to get through the process.
From the Director of Photography to the Editor, everyone had a crucial role, especially because it’s paramount to remain faithful to the primary source - the song.
Director Geo further shares: “’Just Don’t Know It Yet’ has always been the core of the short film. Whenever we feel lost with how we want the film to be, we just go back to [the] song and we always find our answers.”
Director Geo sat down to recount the daily production challenges, citing instances that tested not just the production team, but their commitment to the entire art process.
The film took only two days to film, but with special considerations for the location. Given the setting and overall feel of the story, the production team decided to shoot at a real high school, St. Joseph’s College, located in Quezon City, Manila.
When it came to finalizing the shooting location, Director Geo recounts: “We wanted the school to look like one from the start of the millennium - to make it more of a character than a setting. And we’re going for a school that can resemble one from the provinces. St. Joseph just ticked all the boxes, so we‘ve decided to shoot the film there.”
Although filming was concise, it wasn’t without its tests - both from nature and the creative process itself.
It was truly a test of patience and Director Geo reminisces the very rainy ecnounters: “One of the biggest challenges was the rain. It always rains when we’re doing the exterior scenes, so sometimes we have to compromise and make do with what we have. The most challenging part of the shoot must [also] be the meet-cute. We spent the majority of our day trying to perfect it. It was challenging not because there were problems but because we wanted it to be perfect.”
And they were able to push on; Director recalled a treasured piece: “My favorite scene has got to be the part when young Cathy chases young Angelo in the hallway. Shooting the scene felt as if I was the one running in the hallway, feeling the hard, echo-ey concrete as I step, how every plunge of the actors’ feet to the floor feels like a dip in the past.”
Getting to Know the Cast
Director Geo shares that Angelo and Cathy, the film’s main leads, have been written before the conceptualization and New Hope Club’s “Just Don’t Know It Yet.” A strike of fate brought the ideas together and out came the School Year 2007 - a puzzle masterpiece people can relate to.
And for the production team, casting JC Alcantara and Kaori Oinuma breathed life into the characters of Angelo and Cathy. When asked about their filming experience, both actors emphasized their respective characters' relatability. For JC, Angelo personifies “torpe.”
“...Mahirap talagang umamin yung alam mong halatang halata naman na gusto mo siya pero hindi parin nya napapansin [laughs]. Masasabi ko lang na ang hirap talaga pag torpe ka. Kaya until now andami paring torpe at takot umamin sa mga gusto nila.”
Kaori, on the other hand, speaks for Cathy’s experience.
“I believe that once in our lives, we meet someone we thought we'd spend our ‘happily ever after’ with, but sometimes, things don't always end up the way we want them to, and there's nothing we can do but accept it.”
Both leads also emphasize how life can be frustrating, especially when it comes to missed chances and lost loves. JC urges viewers to remember: “Pag mahal mo, ipaglaban mo. Kung maging kayo mahalin mo, pag hindi napasayo. Move on! At least, nasabi mo yung nararamdaman mo."
For Kaoiri, it’s all about experiencing the best of life: “It's okay to be hopeful, but also don’t forget to live in the moment. Huwag nating hayaan na may regrets tayo in the future.”
“School Year 2007” celebrates not just innocent love and missed chances, it also pays homage to true Filipino culture, from concepts of “torpe” down to the nostalgic trip down the 2000s memory lane; it shows that music transcends cultures. When it comes to depicting life, music, and film speak the loudest.