Seven years after Life with Derek ended, Derek (Michael Seater) and Casey (Ashley Leggat) reunited to make a film about growing up and accepting that the people you used to be aren't necessarily who you are now.
People Hold On, Seater's feature-film directorial debut, stars his former TV stepsister and a gaggle of former child actors from his past. "Half the cast was on Radio Free Roscoe [when they were kids]," Seater told MTV News. There are also several actors from Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, Degrassi, and The Zack Files who've all worked together over the years — which explains why filming this movie was such a personal experience for everyone involved.
Unlike a traditional film, the cast and director worked together to create the story from script to screen. Seater and his business partner Paula Brancati (who also stars in the movie) developed the plot about a group of longtime friends spending a weekend together at a cottage, loosely crafting each character around each actor, then presenting the ideas to their friends.
After everyone jumped on board — Leggat told MTV News that she was totally down from the moment Seater spoke to her about it — they spent time tossing around ideas and improvising scenes, working as one cohesive unit. Afterward, Seater and Brancati did write a full script, but overall, it was a collaborative effort.
It's a good thing they're all such close friends, since filming involved two straight weeks of everyone cooped up in two small cabins, away from civilization, to work at all hours. Seater described it as "a very rustic affair and #indie," and while it was a wonderful experience, no one had much privacy during production.
When asked if it felt odd being directed by someone she'd acted with for so long, Leggat said that it was one of her favorite experiences. "I think we grew so close on Life with Derek that he just knows what to say to get me in the place I need to be," she said. Leggat went into detail about how easily Seater communicated with the actors and how open he was to their ideas, further establishing a synergistic environment.
Seater said he thought he'd seen everything Leggat could do as an actress, but she kept surprising and impressing him with her performance. "I don't think [she] had ever done something that was raw and indie like this, and her gutsiness in going forward was incredibly impressive and shows on camera," he said. "I was so lucky to have her there."
Despite working on this project, Seater and Leggat don't get to see one another as often as they'd like. But when they are able to get together, it feels as if nothing changed. "We could not see each other for years, and it's like no time has passed at all when we do see each other," Leggat shared. "[We] just instantly want to get into antics," Seater added.
Watch People Hold On here.