Drunken teenage nights in an isolated area of west Los Angeles are characterized by cheap beer and puff, puff, pass; couples getting off with each other and the odd vodka-soaked scuffle. The morning after the heavy night before is usually permeated by a grueling hangover and a spotted memory, but for Julien, fear and guilt hang in the air following his actions.
Julien, created by Eliel Ford and produced by Tracy Antonopoulos, follows its protagonist (Sean Pablo) into the grey hours after a fight with a friend, which led to him smashing a bottle over his head. Ford, in explaining the hazy aftermath, says: “Of course there’s the hint that fear, guilt, shame and remorse, would be emotions a normal person would feel in a situation such as this: the issue is Julien is 16. There’s an emotional secrecy and vacancy particular to his character that felt to me like an embodiment of teenagedom.”
Ford recruited Ben Morsberger for the sweet, haunting soundtrack after finding the video of Morsberger performing his track “Ghost” on Instagram. The theme is “something tender”, in complete contrast to the moody, outwardly indifferent but inwardly frightened Julien.
For what could be an incident that takes place among any teen subculture across the world, Ford is certain that Los Angeles was always the perfect setting for Julien. He observes: “The unknowability of Julien is accentuated by the fact that he exists in a landscape that’s made up of anonymous gates hiding anonymous houses. There are no parents, only employees. Being a teenager is an incredibly isolating experience. We only wanted the environment of the film to help that idea.”
Julien is cyclical: the protagonist makes the same mistake again, what Ford refers to as “youth incarnate”. “Teenages making bad decisions is a sentimental subject for us. No matter how terrible we made out Julien to be, we still saw him through a lens of nostalgia.”