Born in Bryn Mawr, raised in Mt. Airy and a 2014 graduate from the University of Pennsylvania (he majored in Cinema Studies), Nick Marini makes an auspicious film debut as Bobby, one of eight teenagers spending their last day together as a group before they head off to college in the winning comedy-drama, Summer of 8, now available on VOD.
Marini gives a perceptive, sensitive performance as Bobby, a young man who is upset that his best friend Jesse (Carter Jenkins), will be going to a different college. He spends the day (and night) drinking and smoking with his friends, sans cell phones. As the characters couple up and say goodbye, he fields the advances of Emily (Rachel DiPillo), who is looking to lose her virginity.
On the phone from Chicago, Marini spoke with Cinedelphia about Summer of 8.
Cinedelphia: Can you talk about how you got involved with Summer of 8?
Nick Marini: It was my fist audition in LA. I graduated U Penn, hopped in a car, and went to LA. It was funny; I just left my very best friend, Dave, on the East Coast. We went to lower, middle, and high school together. We were freshman year roommates at college. So my audition was [for a character who was] exactly where I was in my personal life.
C: Where did you shoot the movie, and how long did it take?
NM: We shot in 5 days in Corona del Mar, which is about an hour south of LA. The second half of the film was shot at the director’s dad’s house in Santa Monica in 5 days.
C: The guys in the film are looking to have a perfect day. How would you describe your perfect day?
NM: Ooh, my perfect day is definitely like in the film, spent hanging out with my best friends. It would be about as chill. I just want to spend time with the people l Iove. I like to revel with my buddies. And dance!
C: Bobby has a conversation with Emily about dating (although it is actually code for sex). What can you say about your experiences with dating in high school?
NM: I didn’t have my first girlfriend until college. I never dated in high school. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun in high school, but [in the film] Emily is a very smart character. I think maybe she doesn’t know who she is enough to find someone who could complete that. I felt similarly. There wasn’t anyone I felt interested in dating in high school. It wasn’t until college that that blossomed for me.
C: There’s a subtext, given Bobby’s responses to some of Oscar’s comments, as well as his exchanges with Emily that Bobby is gay. What are your thoughts on this?
NM: In my first meeting with the director, we discussed that and it was important to me that if that was the truth of the character that it didn’t change the way I played him. I think that it’s really left up to the viewer. Some people see that immediately, and others weren’t quite as sure. Whether Bobby is gay shouldn’t matter. I don’t think that needs to be a defining feature. You don’t need to know that to understand Bobby. If it’s true, so what?
C: How did you work on developing the friendship and backstory between Bobby and his best friend Jesse
NM: The amazing thing about the process of filming is that the relationship between Jesse and Bobby mimicked my relationship with Dave. We had that similar, inseparable dynamic. Carter [Jenkins] and I met up before filming to hang out and get to know one another before shooting. When we filmed the first week, everyone except for [two actresses] lived in a house together. So we shot during the day and hung out and ran lines that night. We became close friends. I had just moved to LA and didn’t know anyone, so it was great that I got to spend time with my peers. That opportunity to live with one another shows in the film.
C: The characters are about to embark on a life in college where there are new rules and no rules. Can you talk about your college experience?
NM: I liked high school. I had fun, but I knew everything would click in college. I loved college! It was a magical experience for me. It was a new start with people who didn’t know you, but I lived with my best friend, who kept me grounded. Growing up in Mt. Airy, I met many types of people, and they help me change my perspective, but college was a melting pot and my friends from Penn are still my friends today.
C: The film has the characters, Bobby especially, partaking in copious drinking and drug use. What are you observations about that?
NM: I think there is truth to it, but more importantly, as far as partying goes, [the film] is relatively responsible. They don’t drive anywhere. We’re excessively drinking, but there’s a ritual to doing the ecstasy. It’s approached with reverence, which is important. If you’re going to do something stupid, at least be smart about it. My telling kids not to drink underage would be hypocritical. But we don’t glorify it. We do it, and are having fun, but I don’t think the characters are drinking to get drunk. It feels to me that we’re responsible and irresponsible. There’s something about that rebellion. They are ready for the next thing and being able to go to a bar, they just aren’t allowed to yet.
C: Why aren’t the characters at home packing?
NM: The day they have is representative of the summer. The film takes place on one day, but it’s [a metaphor for] that last summer—transitioning from being a kid to being on your own for the first time—and celebrating that last bit of responsibility before the freedom you really want.
C: The characters also talk about regrets. Do you have any?
NM: Certainly, but my regrets are things I still have time to rectify, like learning an instrument, or more languages.
C: The film is about endings and beginnings. Can you talk about something that was especially sad to see end, or something you were excited to start?
NM: Summer of 8 was my first film, and I was so excited when I found out I got it. It was a magical two weeks and then it was over. But I ended up living with Matt Shively, who plays Oscar, for a year. He’s a great friend. This film brought me to LA. I’m in Chicago now, and I’m doing some upcoming seasons of Chicago Med, and Rachel DiPillo is a regular. I just wrapped my first episode last night. What’s amazing for me is Summer of 8 began 2 years ago. Those two weeks ended but I’m still feeling the reverberations, and I’m excited to share it with everyone.
Author: Gary M. Kramer
Gary M. Kramer is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer. He is the co-editor of Directory of World Cinema: Argentina. Volumes 1 and 2, and teaches seminars at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer.