Looking for a movie to watch this weekend? Team Marco should be number one on your list. The heartwarming, coming-of-age comedy tells the story of Marco, a typical teenager who’s obsessed with tech and video games. Marco’s life turns upside down when his grandfather moves in and introduces him to the oldest game in the world, bocce, and teaches him about the beauty of being outside and connecting with others in real life.
We were so excited to chat with writer and director, Julio Vincent Gambuto, and the film’s star, Owen Vaccaro, who plays Marco. Check out our exclusive interview below!
Q: For our readers who are unfamiliar with Team Marco, can you share a few sentences about the movie and what it’s about?
JVG: Team Marco is a new family movie for everyone from 9-99. We made it so that teens could have a movie that they could enjoy with the whole family. It’s about a boy named Marco who is obsessed with his tech. When his grandmother dies and his grandfather moves in, “Nonno” (Italian for “Grandpa”) thinks it’s crazy that Marco is always on his iPad and video games, so he drags him to the park (on a Vespa!) to teach him how to play bocce. Bocce is an old Italian game that has been played for thousands of years. And what develops is a very unexpected friendship.
Q: Owen, how did you get started as an actor and what advice do you have for other aspiring performers?
OV: After I had tried nearly every sport and didn’t like it, my first-grade teacher suggested I try theater and I just fell in love with it. I joined a theater company and did 9 plays with them and then started doing film pretty soon after. I got the audition for Team Marco like any other: My agent or manager sent it to me, and I went in and read for the part. The casting director liked it and I got a call back and after that I met with the director. Advice I would give to aspiring actors is just to give it your all and don’t let doing the auditions scare you and don’t get intimidated.
Q: Julio, as the writer and director, what inspired you to create Team Marco?
JVG: Well, to be honest, I always thought I was the young person in the room. But I have seven nieces and nephews now, and one day I realized that I am becoming the “older” generation. I walked into my nephew’s house and he didn’t look up from his iPad to say hello. And suddenly, the movie was born.
Q: What’s the biggest revelation or lesson you want audiences to take away from the film?
JVG: I hope that audiences take away how important our family and friendships really are. I think during the pandemic that has become so clear to everyone.
OV: Take a look at where you are once in a while and take a break from the screen. What I want people to see from the film is that life is happening all around you and you have to look up from your screen to see it.
Q: Owen, have you ever experienced social media pressures? For instance, feeling like you don’t have enough followers or likes on a post? And what advice do you have for anyone going through it?
OV: Of course I deal with the pressures of social media, I think anyone with social media presence has felt that way. My advice would be to really understand that you don’t need to impress anyone but yourself. Do what’s right for you don’t let the number of followers and how many likes you get change what you want to do on social media. And don’t let it define your Instagram platform as a whole – do it for yourself.
JVG: I really think one thing that can help is to use your social media to celebrate someone ELSE. Find someone whose life is interesting or who you find beautiful and tell the world about them. Storytelling can be such a powerful tool. And it moves the focus from you to someone else, which such an important part of spreading love.
Q: What’s your advice for teens who feel like they’re addicted to their smartphones? How can they discover a passion like Marco did and realize the power and beauty of connecting with people in the real world?
JVG: That’s such a great question. I think the best way to do that is to give yourself some tech-free hours to explore. Explore everything! Talk to your parents and grandparents about things they love to do, learn from friends, go outside when the weather is good, try art projects and cooking and baking and origami and card games and putting on plays. There are so many fun things to do with your time that help you connect with people IRL.
Q: Tell us about #NoTechTuesday.
JVG: No Tech Tuesdays is just once-a-week. We challenge all our friends — and ourselves! — to be as tech-free as you can be on Tuesday. Find out more at www.teammarco.movie/notechtuesdays. Yes, you have to use your computer to find out. We know. LOL
Q: Finally, Julio, we love that you wrote and directed this film. Can you share any advice or words of wisdom that perhaps you wish you had known during your teen years?
JVG: I wish I knew when I was teen just how important it was to be myself. I was always good at dreaming big, but I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I always felt too different and too strange to other people. But when you grow up and you start to talk to other people about their experiences, you realize that EVERYONE feels that way. It’s part of life. So, my words of wisdom are one word: talk. Talk to your friends about your feelings. Talk to your parents, your teachers, your siblings, your grandparents. You are never alone, even if you feel like you are. And if there is no one around you that you feel comfortable talking to, use technology to reach out. We are all so connected now, and it gives everyone the opportunity to connect to a community. Funny enough, that’s the point of Team Marco: community is an important part of life. Relationships and friendships make life richer and more meaningful.
Team Marco is streaming now on all major on-demand cable providers and Amazon, Apple, iTunes, and more. Watch the trailer below!