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OP EARNS TOP BILLING IN NEW AUSTRALIAN FILM

Back in 2012, Mitchell Hope shared the Rivergum Theatre stage with fellow students Joseph Lo Testo and Joseph Spanti in Parade College’s musical production, Jekyll and Hyde.

Eight years on and Mitchell is to star in a soon-to-be-released Australian feature film Love You Like That, earning top billing over the seasoned local actors John Jarratt and Chris Haywood.

What a journey it’s been for Mitchell, the North Watsonia boy whose list of acting credits includes the three Disney Descendants movies and, last year, Netflix’s Let It Snow.

Filmed on location in the idyllic New South Wales locales of Bundeena, Cronulla and Gunnamatta Bay, and currently in postproduction, Love You Like That examines how life in a small rural town is forever changed when a stranger appears.

According to the film’s synopsis, Love You Like That is a modern day romantic comedy “with a touch of something special”.

“Cupid’s arrow has just hit the town of Seafront Sands. A hard as nails town planner suddenly finds love, a Naval Captain’s broken hear reveals a unique reunion, a grieving Army wife finds peace, a hidden romance is finally brought to the surface and one lonely soul discovers a love that we will all share for the first time. A mysterious woman found washed up onto the beach changes this one town and in one day. What she does can only be described as magic.”

“In the style of ‘Love Actually’, Love You Like That will have the audience laughing, smiling, and crying right to the end.”

Mitchell plays Harrison, the son of Haywood’s character Gerard in the film, written and directed by Eric C. Nash and produced by Glasshouse Productions and SJG Films.

As fate would have it, Mitchell’s offer to play Harrison came totally out of left field.

“I was in living in LA in 2018, then in January of last year spent time in Toronto and Canada for the Netflix show. I didn’t know anything about Love You Like That until September when I got a straight offer,” Mitchell said.

“I was then able to sit down for a video chat with the director Eric and he came in with a real passion. In the end I accepted the chance to be part of an Australian ‘indy’ and what a great experience it proved to be.”

From mid-October last year, and for the better part of four weeks on location, Mitchell furthered his craft in the company of those two Australian cinematic luminaries Jarratt and Haywood – both of them extremely generous in their dealings as Mitchell explained.

“It was great to work with those two guys. They were always prepared to offer suggestions and they were just as willing to take suggestions from me . . . and I’m only a kid, Mitchell said.

“Through the course of the filming I stayed with fellow castmates Allira Jaques and Steph Tisdell in a nearby house, so that when work finished we all hung out together – and that’s the thing with Australian film-making. In my experience everyone on set is your mate and we’re all there to reach the common goal, which is really why I got into this business.”

To further the point, Mitchell, now 25, recalled an experience of more than ten years past.

“When I was 13 I was involved in the Heidelberg Theatre Company production of Alice in Wonderland, and when you do community theatre it’s not just about the acting - you’re also expected to help out with the lighting, costumes building the set and putting on the show,” Michell said.

“At Parade after Alice in Wonderland I did crew work, just to help out and it took me a few years to do the school musicals because I didn’t have the courage to get up in front of my classmates. But the older kids encouraged me to sign up – guys like Joe Spanti who was a real talent, Joe Lo Testo whose voice could make a mountain shake and Nicholas Kyriacou who set the bar.

“Stuart Brownley was also very good to me in music, as was Mr. Valentine in media. He was a big influence on my approach to film and kick-started my career. A lot of the teachers knew this was what I wanted to do and they all gave me encouragement.”

With the United States firmly in the grip of the invisible enemy right now, Mitchell fears that work-related opportunities will be few and far between in the short to medium-term.

Accordingly, Mitchell expects to remain in Australia at least until July, during which time he expects to hang out with one of his old schoolmates at the Bundoora campus, Josh Mattielli, “who used to do the sound and be part of the crew for the musicals” as he recalled.

“The next few months will be really quiet,” Mitchell conceded. “But I was lucky in doing a couple of big films to set me up a bit . . . and part of why I came back to Melbourne was to keep in touch with reality.”

images from Let It Snow (Netflix) and Love You Like That with Elyssa Murray (imdb.com)