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BRING IT ON

Preparing The Cheerleaders

It was important to Reed and to the actors that they were able to perform the difficult, demanding routines required by the script, so the cast went through several weeks of cheerleading camp where they worked with cheer and dance choreographers as well as veteran cheerleaders. For a month the actors trained with veteran cheer coach Ray Jasper, as well as with choreographer Ann Fletcher and hip- hop choreographer High Hat.

"It was like boot camp," recalls Reed. "Ray Jasper also served as our technical advisor for cheer rules, regulations and moves — and he worked closely with us in casting the additional cheerleaders from the ranks of actual cheer squads around the country."

Reed explains that each cheerleading squad in the film is composed of 20 individuals, eight actors and 12 actual cheerleaders.

"It was really important to me that the entire squad be in sync and their moves seamless," says Reed. "We were fortunate to have some of the top cheerleaders in the country on these squads, and they helped to motivate Kirsten, Eliza, Gabrielle and the rest of the actors during cheer camp," he says. "There was a real exhilaration for me in seeing an actor doing the difficult moves successfully — they were truly dedicated in their preparation and it shows. Even I am hard-pressed, watching the final film, to tell the actors from the real cheerleaders."

For Reed, a self-described "band geek" in high school who only gazed at cheerleaders from afar, this total immersion in the cheer subculture was quite an education.

"Cheerleaders always seem to be performing, whether on the field, in line for lunch or walking down the halls with their friends, they're always practicing their arm movements," recalls Reed. "We noticed that there is this beat and a pulse that they not only cheer to, but that they live to, and we tried to capture that constant rhythm in the film."

Not only do they have their own rhythm but their own language, a vocabulary of words and phrases which are indigenous to the cheerleading population, but quite foreign to the uninitiated.

"One of the more intimidating things about this film for me was learning all of this lingo," explains Reed. "Because by the time I came on board, Jessica (Bendinger) had lived with this script for a couple of years, and all of this was second nature to her. I had a lot of catching up to do, so I had to consult my handy National Federation Cheerleading guidelines."

In the official National Federation Cheerleading guidelines, one can find the precise definitions for such elusive terms as stunting (any kind of flip or specialized move), liberty heel stretch (involves the guy holding the girl by one foot) and pinch a penny (don't ask).

In Bring It On the filmmakers had fun adding comic touches to create the setting for this unique subculture.

"We created Rancho Came High School, this sort of aberrant high school where the football team sucked... and the cheerleaders were the national champions!" recalls Reed. "There was a lot of fun to be had with that, in terms of comedy."

Ritter, who plays Les, notes, "Everyone supports the cheerleaders at Rancho Came, but they're down on the other sports. Those of us guys on the cheerleading squad probably would have gone out for sports, but all the teams are horrible, so the cheer squad is pretty much the bomb at Rancho Came."

The filmmakers were challenged to find just the right location for the Toros' beautiful gym.

"We were searching for a really pristine, beautiful and well-moneyed space," recalls Ree

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