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Bring It On Orlando: In It To Win It
By Douglas Lorah
Earlier this year, Sydney White was shooting in the area on locations ranging from UCF to Rollins to downtown Orlando. The same crew is now working on the next installment of the Bring It On franchise In It To Win It. They began shooting at the Universal Orlando Resort on April 27th utilizing the parks, City Walk, and Hard Rock venues as backdrops for the story. The sets at Universal are an integral part, almost like another character, since the fictional cheerleading competition takes place there. This is not far from reality in that many national cheerleading competitions have taken place at Central Florida theme parks.
In Bring It On: In It To Win It, Southern California high school senior Carson arrives at the all-important "Cheer Camp Nationals" determined to lead her squad, the West High Sharks, to victory. But chic New Yorker Brooke and her team, the East High Jets, are equally steadfast in their pursuit of the competition's coveted "Spirit Stick." As tension mounts between the two rival squads, Carson falls for fellow cheerleader Penn, not realizing he's a Jet. When Brooke discovers the budding romance, she raises the stakes by challenging Carson to a one-on-one cheer-off. A spectacular "cheer fighting" sequence erupts into a no-holds-barred brawl and cheerleaders on both sides are suspended from the competition. With their dreams of taking home the top prize all but shattered, the leaders of both squads realize they'll have to take drastic measures to stay in the game.
Some of the young actors in Bring It On: In It To Win It are Ashley Benson (Days of Our Lives), Cassie Scerbo (Slumber Party Girls), Michael Copon (One Tree Hill), Jennifer Tisdale (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody), Kierstin Koppel (Sydney White) of Miami and making their feature film debuts are Anniese Taylor Dendy and Noel Areizaga. Both were brought in for their dance abilities. Noel is a dance instructor at SADA in the Tampa Bay area. All of the leads had to go to a 3 week cheer camp under the instruction of Tony Gonzalez (Bring It On: All or Nothing), who is handling the cheer choreography for the film.
The film is written by Alyson Fouse (Scary Movie 2), directed by Steve Rash (Bring It On: All or Nothing, Can't Buy Me Love), and executive produced by Armyan Bernstein (Firewall) and Charlie Lyons (The Guardian).
Bring It On is being produced by local Wayne Morris (Miami Vice, Rush Hour) whom we had the pleasure of sitting with and having an interview while visiting on location at Universal City Walk on Wednesday, May 23rd. Below is our interview with Wayne Morris.
Photos from our set visit are available in the Photo Seen.
This movie will go straight to DVD. The release is slated for December just in time for holiday season.
GRO: Were you approached by Universal to do this project or did you go to them?
WM: I was approached by this division of Universal based on my having been the associate producer and UPM on a movie they did called Miami Vice, which was another picture that we were able to utilize a lot of Florida crew and a lot of Central Florida crew because of my relationship with them from past projects. Miami Vice, from a production standpoint, went very well and they were very excited about our local crew. They came to me with this asking if I was interested in doing a project like this. I had built a business model which has gotten a lot of attention in terms of doing multiple projects amortizing them together for the benefit of all of the companies that are doing it. For instance, Sydney White which we produced in the last few months and Bring It On are two examples of that and they actually have a couple right behind this that wanna go. The crew's very excited. The unions are very excited. The facilities. It's something that really makes sense for everyone. The history of how I got involved with this was basically out of my experience with Universal LA on Miami Vice and we catapulted that into this opportunity into this here.
GRO: You have been a leading employer of cast and crew members in Florida for the past couple of years obviously from Miami Vice and from Sydney White. How would you compare the local cast and crews to other markets that you've worked in?
WM: Well, the technical crew in Orlando is very unique. A lot of people moved here when the infrastructure was built twenty years ago in the hopes and belief that this would become one of the major production centers. There are a lot of people who actually are major players in the film industry and most people think they live and work in LA when in fact, they actually have their house and families here and they just go there to do projects. I'm actually in part one of those people. So the community here as opposed to going somewhere say like Louisiana which became a very popular production center for the tax incentives alone... most of the crew has to be brought in to them. Orlando and Central Florida has a very unique indigenous film base that is an A crew. That is right off the bat a very important thing. Miami has a very different indigenous film crew and the uniqueness of 477 being one local the entire state of Florida, people can work locally all over, so that happens, too. For the most part, the crew in Miami is more of a commercial oriented market and people go there for a location destination. The Orlando crew is more of a feature film crew for hire and it's very attracting and to that end, I have taken many of the crew here around the world with me which a lot of people may not realize. In fact, when we did American Outlaws in LA, most of the second unit, which on a huge Western like that is bigger than the first unit a lot of times, the whole film crew was from Orlando, the script supervisor, a lot of the staff that worked with me. When I travel... when I was in Africa, when I was in Europe, when I was in Rome, my office staff was people that I had met from Orlando that still lived here, so those people actually have major feature film credits from the relationship that we set up. I would say very strongly one of the most important things I would point out to people, I never consider these people work for me. They work with me and there's a huge difference. And in that, we're all freelancers and I'm not the kind of person that thinks well, if somebody doesn't want to stay with me and wait for my shows to happen they won't work with me again. In fact, I respect very much what it takes to be a freelancer. I have a wife of 25 years and 4 kids and it's hard swinging that. You have to work with people who are of the same mindset, so I'm extremely loyal and hope that that pays off in loyalty back with me. But that's on one level. The show's are not getting out of me, because this is my crew. It's not my crew. This is the people that I work with in this environment and I choose to base myself out of here. At the moment, it has worked very well.
GRO: I already have a synopsis of the film here. Can you setup what's going on today... what we're doing here?
WM: I don't have a clue. In fact, I'm not even sure who these people are. [Both Kim and I got a good laugh] What we are doing today is the dialogue that happens in the third act of the movie. In the third act, the finality of our movie, our cheerleaders, which were the Sharks and the Jets from the East Coast and the West Coast... sounds a lot like another story I heard before, but it's not the same. In effect, it's such a wonderful thing as a dad to be able to tell a story like this because schools will be able to use this in a contemporary theme that will get the kids interested not only like West Side Story but certainly in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but how these parallels are really good storytelling to show morals and so forth. The arc in this is so good that the kids are only selfish in thinking about themselves and when they finally realize that in joining together and thinking about the better of the group, they all benefit from it. And that's really what this is about. Today, we've actually shot the finals competition, which would be happening right behind this. This is them waiting to go onstage and it's where they've decided to become a group. That's why the uniforms are actually the blue and the red, but they all have the S on them. It's the new group that's been formed called the Shets. This is the dialogue scenes that take place while their pensively waiting to go on to perform the finals to see if they can go on to the worlds.
GRO: I noticed that you're doing 35. Was that a decision based on you? The director?
WM: Ultimately these days, that decision really comes down to what's in the best interest of the movie financially. It's creatively there are a lot of different directions to go. Uniquely, I've had the opportunity to really be in the forefront of the platforms of where we are right now. I've worked really closely with Kodak, and with a lot of the labs and certainly the vendors. Miami Vice we shot almost exclusively in Hi Def and even on Miami Vice we tested every major Hi Def platform and vendor. Even when I did Mortal Kombat ten years ago here, we were actually offered to be the first show to shoot entirely in Hi Def and at that time, I was going to do it, but it didn't make sense for a couple of reasons. So for this show, we considered Hi Def. We considered Super 16 with a direct Hi Def transfer, because the 16 film for that purpose is very, very close. What we ended up with, which is the same way we did Sydney White, is we're actually shooting 3 Perf 35. So 3 Perf is exactly 25 percent more efficient than 4 Perf, which is standard 35 shooting. Most television that shoots on 35 is 3 Perf. If you're not going to project the negative, there's very little reason to shoot 4 Perf these days. 3 Perf gets you the exact image that you need. You're still shooting on the same emulsion of 35 that you would be. We're shooting low contrast stock on this, because we're not needing to take this negative and directly project it. What will happen to this is we'll actually transfer directly off this negative to the final HD element and edit that, but for instance like Sydney White which is a theatrical release, they can now do an intermediate video process which allows a digital intermediate system that allows you not to have to go back to the original negative for the projection prints. Most major features now all do DIs and it's totally changed the way the whole industry works. Even when I was doing Exorcist with Vittorio Storaro, a famous Cinematographer - 3 Academy Awards, he had never done it before and convinced him he really needed to look at this new process which he didn't want to go to and he was amazed at the choices that you have with DI. You have to know going in to it these days exactly how you're going to finish to really pick the best platform to start with. In this case given everything that we're doing and the motion and so forth, we felt this was the best for the movie and it allowed us the most efficiency to get the most days of shooting in.
GRO: That wraps that up.
WM: You got more information than you wanted there.
GRO: Yeah. That's great for the locals to understand it a little better, too. You started shooting the last week of April. When do you see yourself wrapping here as long as there aren't any weather delays or anything like that?
WM: Well, first of all, we're always prepared for weather. As soon as you're prepared, you won't have to use it. If you're not prepared, you will always fall victim to it. We will finish shooting this picture sometime in first week of June and we're already in prep for two other movies.
GRO: OK. That's leading me to my last question. Is it OK for you to announce at this time what you're going to be doing next?
WM: I hate to jinx it. It's pretty common knowledge around town, so if you hear it from somebody other than me, I probably won't deny it. There are two pictures that are very interested in shooting with us. I can tell you one of them is Ace Ventura, the next in the franchise, which is Ace Ventura as a child. It's a very cute script. It's by the same company that did the original Ace Ventura's. And the other movie is a movie for Universal Family, which is the same division that's doing Bring It On and it's Beethoven.
GRO: The Sixth?
WM: No, not six. It's kind of an in betweener. It's like Beethoven One and a Half.
GRO: OK. So we heard that one, but I didn't hear anything about the Ace Ventura.
WM: Ace Ventura is something that is a strong possibility. Start scouting locations for it. We're interviewing directors this week. As to whether it's absolutely coming here, anybody that's worked this business for more than three weeks knows there's no such thing. If I walk in the lunch tent and the whole crew sees me coming in, some of the older ones always wonder... is he coming to pull the plug just because they've been on shows that that's happened. Not that I'd do it that way. Fortunately at this point in my career, I don't really get involved with too many things that aren't 100 percent of the finance in place and so forth and a plan that's always better than the worst case possibility. I've been doing this for 33 years and in the early days, at the beginning of our careers, we were all involved with things which were kind of a risky endeavor. I think that's one of the attractive things for some the local crew to get involved with projects that I'm involved with. They know that I've vetted them out and that I'm involved with a full knowledge of the financing and who the principals are and so forth and there's a bit of insurance with me being involved in that I don't have an interest in taking risks on projects that aren't really ready to go. One of the problems with this area, this part of the world, is that there are a lot of promoters who put movie projects together as investments and if one domino falls, many fall behind it. We all know about projects that started and never finished here. The ones that I'm trying to be involved with are a different type. That's not saying those shouldn't be done or that people shouldn't work on them. They absolutely should if it's in their interest. What I'm saying is that the ones that I'm with are more established and studio based projects that would be more likely to have the plug pulled before we ever started.