Kaori Oinuma and JC Alcantara starring in a short film based off a New Hope Club song was the crossover we never knew we needed.
Music was, is, and will continue to be a universal language enjoyed by cultures the world over. A song written in one part of the world could impact a listener on the other side of the globe. That’s an impact New Hope Club is all too familiar with. Even if the British boy band, which consists of Reece Bibby, Blake Richardson, and George Smith, hails from Northern England, their music has been consumed by all four corners of the world since they started as a band in 2015.
It’s in this global appeal that New Hope Club’s latest project came about as they tapped creatives across three Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines) to turn three of their songs into a short film. And for the Philippines, that meant turning the group’s lovestruck ballad, Just Don’t Know It Yet, into a nostalgic tale of young school love in 2007.
A LOVE STORY IN HIGH SCHOOL
The relationship New Hope Club has with the Philippines is a well-documented one. It was one of the first countries the group visited in Asia and has continuously returned to over the years. But their latest return to the country last April wasn’t for a concert, but to premiere the short film for Just Don’t Know It Yet (Blake didn’t attend as he was filming a movie). This collaboration across borders saw the song, which tenderly speaks of love at first sight and knowing that the person is the one even if they don’t know it yet, be translated through a uniquely Pinoy context. The result was the short film School Year 2007 by director Geo Lomuntad.
Starring JC Alcantara and Kaori Oinuma, the short film plays on the track’s message by focusing instead on what it’s like meeting your love for the first time in years. “It was my first time working with [New Hope Club], so it’s such an honor collaborating with them,” expressed JC during the film’s premiere, who noted that it was a grateful experience. In School Year 2007, when JC and Kaori’s characters reunite, the viewer gets transported to their high school days in 2007 as we see how their love story unfolded.
The film is laced with nostalgic feels of young love and what it was like to be a Filipino student during the Y2K era, something JC related to a lot. “Bumalik ako sa 20s na estudyante.” But even if the British song was visualized through a love story about two high school students from the Philippines in the 2000s, the message still resonates. As JC shared, “Sana suportahan din ang Filipino fans kasi sobrang makakarelate nila sa kanta, sobrang ganda, and alam ko na isa ko sa nakarelate sa song nila.”
A New Hope Club song being told through the lens of a nostalgic Filipino high school romance starring Kaori Oinuma and JC Alcantara was not on our 2023 bingo card. But it goes to show the power of musical collaboration has no bounds. Following the premiere of School Year 2007, we got to catch up with New Hope Club’s Reece and George as they opened up about their thoughts on the short film, seeing their music be told through different cultures and more. Read on below for what they had to say.
You just came from the premiere of School Year 2007. How are you guys processing the moment?
REECE: We’re very happy to be [in the Philippines]. We’ve come a long way for this premiere, so we’re very excited about it. A lot of people have worked very hard and it’s just cool to see an adaptation of something that we wrote in the studio. It’s cool to see the director’s vision and what he’s taken from the song that we wrote. It’s a very emotional song and it’s very emotional on screen.
What’s the inspiration behind Just Don’t Know It Yet?
GEORGE: Well, the song is all about falling in love at first sight. It’s all about that experience. We’ve all kind of had that before where you kind of see someone and you just kind of imagine what your life would be like with them, even if you haven’t said hello. So it kind of delves into those sort of feelings and experiences. We wrote the song years ago, in 2017, but we couldn’t find the right place for it. And now feels like the right time.
You wrote the song when you were teenagers. But now that you released the song as young adults, has the meaning of the track changed for you?
REECE: We just wrote that song about that experience of imagining what your life would be like with a complete stranger. And I think that’s something that we write a lot of songs on the goal. You’re just always imagining what you can write about. It makes you think about completely crazy scenarios and kind of like a Walter Mitty style film, like, just go off in your mind and just be like, what if we did this, and you do this. We have to think about everything in that way because we write songs about our experiences all the time.
Just Don’t Know It Yet is an emotional song. How was it like getting to dig deep into those emotions when you made the song?
GEORGE: I mean, it’s definitely an emotional one. It’s always fun for us to write emotional songs. It kind of pulls you in a different way. And you get to almost put it all out on the song, bring out all those feelings into it. But we do enjoy writing those more emotional ballads. It’s always a fun one. And it gives a moment for you to just to kind of experience it. Everyone can kind of sing out the song at the same time and everyone feels like they’re in the room together with a big, harmonious feeling between everyone. So it’s definitely a special moment. And going back to when we wrote the song to playing it live, it’s crazy seeing everyone knowing the lyrics and singing the back to us. It’s a very surreal moment.
School Year 2007 is part of a trilogy of films with Indonesia and Thailand to reimagine your songs. How did this project come about?
REECE: With this new phase of songs that we’ve been releasing, we’ve been a huge part of the creative process, we’ve written every song by ourselves or with other talented writers in the room. And we’ve tried to be very hands on with the whole project, which also means that there’s a meaning behind every song and there’s an idea behind everything that we do. So, it feels cool to be able to have something that’s on screen, something that the fans can enjoy. It’s very fulfilling for us to have something that we’ve worked so hard on in the studio, for it to be on a screen and have a movie adaptation.
And how does it feel to see your songs interpreted in other cultures?
REECE: Honestly, it’s amazing. And especially Southeast Asia, we love it here. We love to visit and it’s really cool. It’s something that we can give back to the fans and something that they can come out to these premieres and see us, they can hear us perform, but also see what these amazing directors and actors have put together. It’s just a great collaboration, very happy that we could make it happen.
After getting to work with Filipino actors and creatives for the short film, is this something you see yourselves doing more of in the future. Would you be open to working with a Filipino musician?
GEORGE: Oh, yeah, definitely. We’d love to do collaborations. The main thing for us is getting in the studio, writing songs, and we feel most comfortable just being in the studio with ourselves. And the person that we’re collaborating with, it’s nice to see how different people work. Having a different person in the room is great because they just pull the song in a different way that you’d never have even thought about taking a song. So, we’re always down to collaborate, whether a song comes up or not. It’s just nice to be in the studio with someone different and just see how they work.
What message do you have for your Filipino fans?
REECE: Thank you so much. You guys have been so loyal. This was one of the first places we ever came to in Asia. And you have been so supportive ever since we arrived, in person and online every day. The amount of support that they’ve given, we really appreciate it. We can’t wait to come back and put on a show. But for now, enjoy this venture. Enjoy the short film over and over again.
Creative Direction KENNETH DIMAANO
Photography MJ SUAYAN
Styling QUAYN PEDROSO
Brand Associate ELYSE ILAGAN
Shoot Coordination MIKA TAFALLA
Shot on Location at ASCOTT BGC
Special thanks to UMG Philippines and Hollywood Records
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