Denise and Gino Vaccaro join their students Tiley Strozewski, John Bard, Xavier Drayton and Zac Weaver at the premiere of “The Way, Way Back.”
When a movie producer called Denise and Gino Vaccaro, directors of Future Dance Center in Hamburg, they jumped at the chance of filming audition videos of several of their teenage students free styling, hoping one of them would make their silver screen debut. Little did they know that not one but four of their students would receive an offer.
“We were recommended to choreograph the movie by our friend Carrie Ann Inaba from ‘Dancing with Stars,’” Gino Vaccaro said. “Due to time constraints on the film and scene changes they ended up not needing choreographers, but the boys were able to free style in the scene as needed.”
“We filmed at a water park in Boston for a day in June 2012,” said Tiley Strozewski, a 15-year-old dancer from West Seneca. “It was cool to see how everything was done and to see what it takes to make a movie.”
Strozewski was joined by his friends Xavier Drayton, 15 of Buffalo; John Bard, 18 of Hamburg; and Zac Weaver, 16 of Blasdell.
The movie they appear in is “The Way, Way Back,” which opened in theaters on July 5 and includes big-name stars including Steve Carell, Maya Rudolph and AnnaSophia Robb. The movie is about a 14-year-old boy named Duncan – played by Liam James – who finds himself while on a summer vacation with his mom, her boyfriend and his daughter.
The four boys can be seen for about five minutes while watching the movie. Although the scene they’re in is short, they filmed from about 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and got a sunburn along the way.
“It was a long day but we met a lot of people and talked with them while on set,” Strozewski said. Besides dancing in the movie, they also had the chance to read lines and go over them with James. “It was one line but they cut it out of the movie because it was too much.”
On June 26, Strozewski, Drayton, Bard and Weaver, along with their families and the Vaccaro’s, traveled to New York City to attend the red-carpet premiere for the movie at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13. While at the premiere, they had the chance to meet Rudolph and Sam Rockwell and reconnect with James.
“We got to walk the red carpet, take pictures and see all of the stars,” Strozewski said. “It was really exciting to see us on the screen and to see how much I have improved. We also saw our names in the credits, which we weren’t sure if they would be in to begin with. It was crazy.”
Also mentioned in the credits were the Vaccaro’s.
“The producer Tom Rice actually thanked us in the film credits as well,” Gino Vaccaro said. “He’s a very nice guy and was amazing to work with.”
Besides the red carpet, the film had a special premiere in Buffalo on July 1 at the Regal Cinemas on Transit Road.
Within one year, four local teenagers went from dancing in a studio to dancing in a feature-length film.
“For these boys it’s just the beginning of what they hope to be a long career,” Gino Vaccaro said. “Watching all of them is really fun.”
“I’m really happy I got to experience this with those three guys,” Strozewski said. “They’re like my brothers. It was a fun experience and we had a good time.”