Mitchell Hope in 'Love You Like That'.

Like many who live in Melbourne, Mitchell Hope is using the lockdown to broaden his skill set.

The young actor, known for his roles in Disney’s Descendents franchise and Let it Snow, has felt the full force of the city’s battle with the virus, having returned to his hometown in February of last year following seven years of dividing his time between Australia and the US.

However, instead of baking banana bread or cultivating a green thumb, he told IF he had spent the time indoors furthering his knowledge of filmmaking.

“The pandemic has been terrible, but I’ve started doing something I’ve always wanted to do, which is to write my own work and produce my own films.”

Prior to COVID-19, Hope was in southern Sydney to shoot Eric C. Nash’s Love You Like That, which will become the first new local release since theatres reopened in NSW when it premieres this week.

Distributed by Pivot Pictures, the story is about the mysterious appearance of a young woman (Allira Jaques) in an otherwise sleepy coastal town.

Hope plays Harrison, a young man who operates a dating agency with his assistant Emily (Steph Tisdell) and becomes one of the many residents to be impacted by the new arrival.

The romantic comedy was written, directed, and produced by Nash, with Sean Gannon producing and Patrick Kriz executive producing. Cinematographer Robert Draper also co-directs with Nash.

Mitchell Hope and Steph Tisdell in ‘Love You Like That’.

Hope said he had been looking for a way to re-enter the Australian industry when Nash reached out to gauge his interest in the role in 2019.

“When I spoke to Eric, I told him how much I wanted to get back into Australian film because there was a moment in my career when I realised that’s why I got into this and that’s what I was looking for,” he said.

“I was very lucky to get into the American market the way I did, but that experience of working with the Love You Like That crew was exactly what I wanted.

“When I had a problem, people wouldn’t jump around about it, they’d sit down with me and figure it out in the most Australian way possible.”

While he has since been in the grips of multiple Melbourne lockdowns, Hope had a small reprieve earlier this year when travelled to New Zealand to film Hannah Marks’ Don’t Make Me Go.

Set to be distributed via Amazon Studios, the dramedy follows a single father (John Cho) who, after learning that he has a fatal brain tumor, takes his daughter on a road trip to find the mother who abandoned her years before and to try to teach her everything she might need over the rest of her life.

Hope, who first met Marks at an acting audition seven years ago, said the film offered a similarly collaborative environment to Love You Like That, albeit with a different context.

“That was another one where the directors and the actors really worked with me,” he said.

“The only difference is that with a big studio project, whether it be Amazon, Disney or Netflix – my experiences with all those companies have been very lovely – is that there tends to be an executive there and the roles on set are a bit more defined.

Don’t Make Me Go was a little challenge for me and I’m actually really excited to see it come out.”

Going forward, Hope said he does not have any immediate plans to leave Melbourne , choosing instead to enjoy a less transient lifestyle.

“I do have to get [to LA] and I want to get there, but for now, and for the first time in a while, I don’t have any plans just yet,” he said.

“I had my own place over there for three years or so, but from 2017 to 2019 I was just kind of floating around between LA and Melbourne.

“I’m now very happy that I made the decision to move back because I wanted to be where I grew up with my family and I didn’t want to wait until late at night to be able to call my mum.”

Love You Like That will screen in theatres from October 21.

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