Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

‘Pet Shop Days’ cast, crew on importance of community

Charlotte Keene
From left to right, Executive Producer Jeremy O. Harris, Director Olmo Schnabel and Lead Darío Yazeb Bernal pose for a portrait on 2nd Street in downtown Austin on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. “Pet Shop Days” is Schnabel’s directorial debut and Yazeb Bernal’s first American movie.

Olmo Schnabel’s directorial feature “Pet Shop Days,” a film recently obtained by Utopia for distribution, had its Texas premiere at SXSW this week. What started as an idea penned during an School of Visual Arts writing course eventually found its way to Schnabel, who became interested in working on the project. The film follows Alejandro and Jack, a LGBTQ+ couple that bond over their shared parental conflicts and eventually develop a relationship that leads them into drugs in Manhattan. 

The film premiered at Venice Film Festival in September 2023 and features producer credits from Martin Scorsese and Jeremy O. Harris. Additionally, Jack Irv and Darío Yazbek Bernal star in the film with support from Willem Dafoe and Peter Sarsgaard, among others. 

“(Jack Irv) had created this scenario that I thought was very original,” Schnabel said. “That’s when I was attracted to it, and I basically had to convince him to let me be involved in the project — let me be a creator of it.” 

With “Pet Shop Days” being Schnabel’s directorial debut, he recognized the challenges that come with leading a project like this. He also said that continuing to believe in the film was important for him. 

“You’re constantly dealing with different kinds of challenges that you have to overcome,” Schnabel said. “How do you stay enthusiastic and how do you believe in something that you feel like sometimes you’re the only person who believes in it?”

Producer Jeremy O. Harris, known for his Broadway show “Slave Play” which received a record breaking 12 Tony nominations, said that this film came out of an era where the world stopped for two years due to the pandemic and into an industry halted by coinciding labor union strikes. 

“That was a big challenge for any first time filmmaker to have to deal with, but any filmmaker to have to deal with it,” Harris said. “So navigating all that is really interesting because he’s done it with aplomb … and sort of a hunger to have people meet this film.” 

Harris also said that, although he feels he has the easiest job of the bunch, he felt excited to act as an enthusiastic collaborator for the film and have the chance to advocate for the film to the industry. 

“This movie reminded me of finding a movie on a shelf at Blockbuster when I was 12 that I would want to hide from my mom and cherish in my room, because it took me to a side of New York City I would never see otherwise,” Harris said.

Harris said that he hoped this film would inspire new generations of filmmakers to create new stories and see this as potential for them to reach farther. 

“That’s a rare thing in this moment, to have movies that are … queer and still questioning and still dangerous,” Harris said. “I feel like a lot of things have become so safe that we haven’t had a movie like this.” 

Darío Yazbek Bernal, who leads the film as Alejandro, said that he found community to be an incredibly important aspect of the filmmaking process. 

“Work with people that have similar goals … and you will help each other grow, because at the end of the day, filmmaking and theater are communal.” Yazbek said. “You need people with you that believe in you and support you because if not, it’s very difficult to go anywhere.”

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Keene, Senior Photographer
Charlotte Keene is a junior Journalism major from San Antonio, Texas. She enjoys making playlists and watching movies in her free time.