Entertainment Movies David Henrie's Directorial Debut Gets Release Date — and an Assist from Producer Selena Gomez! The former Wizards of Waverly Place costars and longtime friends collaborated on Henrie's directorial debut This is the Year By Kara Warner Published on August 13, 2021 12:00 PM Share Tweet Pin Email David Henrie's' directorial debut has a release date! PEOPLE can exclusively reveal the actor-turned-director's first feature This is the Year will open in theaters next month on Sept. 24 The film, which is executive produced by Henrie's longtime friend and former Wizards of Waverly Place costar Selena Gomez, is a coming-of-age teen drama that follows a nerdy high school senior trying to win over his crush. He enlists his best friends to help him on his quest and the group embarks on a road trip to see their favorite band at the biggest music festival of the year. Charming high school movie hijinks ensue, of course. "From the time I was eight years old I would make home movies making fun of my big Italian family, who were easy targets haha," Henrie, 32, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "Using satire to bring joy to my family is the feeling that launched me into the entertainment business and it's a feeling I am still chasing to this day. Although now at 32 that childlike feeling has evolved into a distinct mission to use storytelling to entertain and elevate audiences through my company Novo Media Group. " Courtesy Vertical Entertainment Courtesy Vertical Entertainment This is the Year stars Henrie's brother Lorenzo (Fear the Walking Dead), Vanessa Marano (Switched at Birth), Bug Hall (Little Rascals), Alyssa Jirrels (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Jake Short (A.N.T. Farm), Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Gregg Sulkin (Runaways). Henrie says choosing brother Lorenzo for his lead was a no-brainer — and a lot of fun."Whenever you make an indie film, time is your greatest enemy. So I needed a lead actor who I could trust to achieve what I needed and quickly," says Henrie. "Thankfully my brother and I are best friends, so we had a shorthand that enabled us to get everything we needed to get done quickly." Wizards of Waverly Place Reunion! Selena Gomez and David Henrie Film New Project Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Henrie jokes that he's most proud of the fact that they finished the film. "I think anyone knows that making an independent film is an absolute miracle," he says. "So just the fact that we got it done was a huge victory! But as the director, the main challenge was to try and maintain a spirit of creativity and optimism on set that allowed every single person to feel empowered to be the best they could be and to serve the overall story." He adds, "I believe if you asked anyone working on set they would say we achieved that goal. Myself and my amazing team at BOLD Entertainment and Novo were able to do that by leading with a spirit of humility." This is the Year will open in theaters on Sept. 24.