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STICK IT

Shooting STICK IT
Principal photography of STICK IT began June 13, 2005, and ended August 22, 2005, and was filmed entirely on location in Southern California. The film is set in Texas, in the Plano and Houston areas, both of which, notably, are home to several Olympic and world champions and the training center for the USA Gymnastics National Team.

For the Finals, filmed at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (the former home to the NBA's LA Clippers in downtown Los Angeles), the filmmakers, with the invaluable assistance of International Gymnast's Paul Ziert, recruited over a dozen elite international gymnasts for the competition scenes, as well as gymnastics celebrities, who make cameo appearances. Some of the better known gymnastics notables whom Ziert helped procure include Carly Patterson (2004 Olympic Games all-around Gold Medal winner), Isabelle Severino (France), Nastia Liukin (current World Champion and US National Champion), Mohini Bhardwaj (2004 US Olympic Team) and Allana Slater (Australia), as well as former greats Bart Conner, Elfi Schlegel and Tim Daggett. The gymnasts were flown in from around the globe—Spain, Australia, France and Japan—for a week of filming.

Ziert was duly impressed with Bendinger, who insisted on maintaining the integrity of gymnastics, while imbuing it with characters and situations audiences would embrace. "She really demanded high-quality gymnastics,” Ziert says. "Jessica is really able to capture the life of a gymnast. She was a gymnast herself when she was young, so she understands the difficulties. What the audience will see is real gymnastics…and they're also going to love the more avant-garde and hip-hop elements she incorporates into the film.”

Ziert is manager and business partner to Bart Conner, the two-time Olympic Champion who also runs the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Oklahoma, with his wife, fellow gymnastics legend, Nadia Comaneci. In addition to working as a consultant to the filmmakers, Conner makes a cameo appearance as an interviewer at the Finals.

For Conner, America's most decorated male gymnast, the film's portrayal of the sport made him the most proud. "There are world-class athletes in the picture, and the whole story is powerful,” he says. "It's about young ladies empowering themselves, and although some license was taken with lifestyle of the gymnasts, I think the film is really going to resonate. They're sticking to the hardcore aspects of gymnastics and showing where the sport could be a little better. And I'm excited to see that there will be some memorable moments outside of what you typically see in competitions. Normally you see world-class gymnasts in a very routine, uniform, structured kind of lifestyle, and this just turns that on it's ear a little bit—I think that's where the movie gets added power.”

According to Jeff Bridges, "We were all so fortunate to have with us two world-class gymnasts, Isabelle Severino and Nastia Liukin. Both of them helped the actresses immensely, but I would also go to them all the time and ask, ‘What would your coach say to you? How would your coach behave at this particular time?' They would always have a very quick answer for me. I think they inspired our actresses, and in turn our actresses inspired them. I think both of those ladies are now thinking of becoming actresses, so it's kind of a two-way street.”

At the Los Angeles Sports Arena set, director of photography Daryn Okada utilized a complex camera called a Spydercam, a motion-control, suspended camera system that allowed the gymnastics to be filmed in a way never before seen on film. Rigged with cables on the upper corners of the arena, the camera followed a programmed flight pattern around the interior of the arena, allowing Okada three-dimensional ability to glide in, out and around the gym from unique perspectives. "There were

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