From Whistler to TIFF 2014 

Teenage actress Julia Sarah Stone is one of the Toronto International Film Festival Rising Stars

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Not going swimmingly Sam (played by Julia Sarah Stone) is a young teen with a lot on her mind in the film Wet Bum.
  • Photo submitted
  • Not going swimmingly Sam (played by Julia Sarah Stone) is a young teen with a lot on her mind in the film Wet Bum.

Young actress Julia Sarah Stone is going to have a great September and you don't need a crystal ball to see it.

The 16-year-old will see her coming-of-age drama Wet Bum open at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), just weeks after its completion.

"It was such an amazing experience. Lindsay (Mackay) is a great director," Stone says. "We stayed in some pretty interesting hotels. There was one in Guelph (the film was shot in Ontario) and it was a two-floor, no elevator with the only restaurant around being across the street. All of us stayed in the same place and got to know each other. It was really fun."

In Wet Bum, Stone portrayed the 14-year-old hero Sam who fights with accepting herself and growing up.

Stone says the story is very character driven and is very enthusiastic about how it was made.

"I loved the character of Sam because there are so many things to admire about her," she says. "I use music to get into a character, and I wrote journal entries as the character. She is going through this journey and there is a lot of confusion about herself and what happened around her, her relationships with her parents are changing. There are two different worlds she is bounced between."

She recalls one day spent filming in a swimming pool because Sam is training to be a lifeguard.

"We had a full day of stunts and we were held up by wires. It was a lot of fun, we had harnesses and everything," she recalls.

Stone took her first professional acting class at 11. She had a recurring role in the AMC TV series, The Killing, which was filmed in Vancouver, and has acted in seven feature films, including The Year Dolly Parton was My Mom, her first role, which she starred in at the age of 11.

Julia won the Best Performance in an International Feature at the Young Artist Awards in L.A. following that film.

Stone divides her time between Whistler and Vancouver; her mother Sue Chappel runs, which provides accommodation rentals in the resort.

If having a new feature film at TIFF wasn't enough, Stone has also been named one of four recipients of the TIFF Rising Stars honour for 2014.

The award highlights Canadian talent at the festival, with the recipients taking part in industry workshops and meeting industry executives in Canada and the U.S.

"I go to L.A. sometimes to audition with directors and it's already back and forth... it's nice that so many Canadian stars are getting recognized. There is so much talent there," Stone says.

"The other three rising stars this year, it's just such an honour to be in the same group as they are going into this program."

Stone says she got the phone call for it in July and went to an actors' boot camp in August. To hear it, it sounds like she's getting coached on how to be a star.

"We had media trainings and sittings, and a test press conference," Stone says.

"They told us mainly to prepare, do your work. A lot of people think they can just go in and wing it, but there is a lot of stuff you can do beforehand that can help, and to calm our nerves. Mainly that everybody is on our side."

Stone's upcoming projects include roles in Wim Wenders' Every Thing Will Be Fine, Werner Herzog's Vernon God Little.

And there is one project she has been selected for that is particularly exciting.

"But I'm not allowed to talk about it yet!" she laughs.

The producer for Wet Bum, Lauren Grant, says Stone has a big future.

"Julia's fantastic. She's a wonderful talent, we were very lucky in having her," Grant says. "She was in every single scene, every single day. We were just in awe of her. I hope the film really helps push her forward."

Most of Wet Bum was filmed last winter in Ontario, but additional filming also took place in May. Grant has been finishing the editing, mixing and post-production on Wet Bum with the aim of full completion on Sept. 1, pretty tight for TIFF, which opens on Sept. 4.

Wet Bum premieres three days later.

"We're incredibly lucky. We showed them an early version of the film, which is always nerve wracking," Grant says. "I'm really happy with the finished project."

It will be entered into the TIFF Best First Feature competition, as it is director and screenwriter Lindsay Mackay's first, as well as Best Canadian and Audience Choice Awards.

Grant's own previous feature Picture Day, her first, screened at the Whistler Film Festival and won the Borsos Award for best Canadian film in 2012.


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