GROW UP, TONY PHILLIPS is a Halloween-set coming of age comedy written and directed by Emily Hagins, which is set for a March 12 premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. It is the fourth feature from Hagins, 20, who was the first girl in the U.S. to make a feature film at the age of 12 (Pathogen). She was the subject of the documentary Zombie Girl: The Movie, and her third feature, My Sucky Teen Romance, premiered at SXSW in 2011.
Who doesn’t love Halloween? All of Tony Phillips’ (Tony Vespe) high school friends, apparently. It’s senior year and they’ve now decided that they’re too cool for Halloween. When his older cousin (AJ Bowen) returns home right before the holiday, Tony starts to wonder if he really is the dork everyone thinks he is, or if he’s just ahead of the curve.
The film may take place on Halloween, but it has nothing to do with horror movies and everything to do with that crystalline moment in time everyone has when they realize life marches forward and they’re the youngest they’ll ever be. It’s a coming-of-age story, but this isn’t an indie drama about a boy becoming a man. It’s a comedy about Tony Phillips, a guy who doesn’t think childhood passions should have an expiration date.
“Grow Up, Tony Phillips is a story I felt passionate about telling because it reflects a genuine transition point in the teen experience I think is important and often overlooked,” said Hagins.