Vancouver native Julia Sarah Stone has already had a pretty amazing TIFF 2014 experience. Not only is the talented young actress the star of the coming-of-age film Wet Bum, alongside View the Vibe Tastemaker Craig Arnold, she has the highly-regarded distinction of also being one of the film festival’s official “Rising Stars.” Every year, a TIFF jury selects four up-and-coming actors to participate in career-changing seminars, mentoring sessions, red carpet appearances, and more. It can change a fledgling performer’s career. We caught up with Stone to find out all about her TIFF 2014 experience thus far…
You’re starring in Wet Bum at TIFF. That’s quite the name for a movie! What is the film about, who do you play, and what drew you to your character?
The title definitely grabbed my attention and made me curious about the story, which I think is part of the goal! The film is a coming of age story about 14-year-old Sam, who is a bit of an awkward outcast and is trying to figure out where she fits in. At the same time that she’s eager to grow up too fast, she’s also terrified of what it would mean.
In the story, she’s forced by her mother to get a summer job at a nursing home. At the same time, she’s taking lifeguard training. Because she’s very self-conscious and not yet quite comfortable in her body, she doesn’t change out of her bathing suit after practice and instead puts her clothes on over her wet bathing suit (hence the title!). She ends up forming an unlikely friendship with Ed, one of the senior home residents (played by Kenneth Welsh) and also develops a crush on her swimming instructor, Lukas (Craig Arnold). Throughout her journey in the movie these relationships help her to recognize what “growing up” really means.
Part of what drew me to Sam is her undeniable vulnerability, which she (often unsuccessfully) tries to mask. We all have masks, and I found Sam’s to be very real, and very raw. She’s also going through an enormous transformation, which is evident throughout the entire movie thanks to writer-director Lindsay MacKay’s incredible knack for pacing. In many ways, though, it’s a gut feeling that I get when I read a script and instantly fall in love with the character.
You’re one of TIFF 2014’s Rising Stars. Congratulations! What does that mean to you and how do you see it helping your career as an actor?
It’s such an honour to have been selected for the Rising Stars Program! I’m so grateful to TIFF, the Brian Linehan Foundation, Telefilm, and other supporters of the program who provide such amazing opportunities for Canadian artists. Being recognized among such great talent is very exciting to me, and I’m really excited to learn as much as I can from mentors who have such great talent for storytelling. As an actor, I just hope that it will help me go deeper into my craft and open up new creative ways of thinking about, accessing, and developing characters and stories. I hope this deepens my potential contribution to the projects I’m lucky to be involved in!
Finish this sentence: I love TIFF because…
…it provides such amazing opportunities for filmmakers to share their ideas and be recognized for their work, especially first-time Canadian writers and directors – for example, Lindsay MacKay, the writer and director of Wet Bum! It’s so inspiring to see so many different stories and people coming together to exchange and celebrate what we do as filmmakers.
What other movies are you most excited to see at TIFF 2014 and why?
Besides Wet Bum, I was very excited to attend the opening night film, The Judge! (The Rising Stars got to walk the red carpet, so I was really looking forward to that.) I’m not sure which other films we’re going to have time to see, but we’ll be attending as many as we can!
What are three things you can’t live without?
I couldn’t come up with three material things I can’t live without, but what I can’t imagine living without are stories. From a very young age, I loved playing imaginary games, reading books, and watching movies and live theatre. That’s why I got into acting!
What’s one thing most people would be surprised to know about you?
I think most people would be surprised to know that I do martial arts! I have a blue stripe in Shotokan Karate, and I love stunts! I’m planning on getting my Stunts Certification soon so that I can widen my range to include more action-oriented films.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 to 15 years?
In 10 to 15 years I hope to still be doing what I love. I absolutely love acting; all aspects of it including building the character, telling a story, and just being on set. I just hope that I’ll still be lucky enough to have great opportunities to be part of meaningful projects like Wet Bum!