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From Rumor To Reality
Principal photography on Easy A began on June 9, 2009 in the town of Ojai, California. Located to the north of Los Angeles in a small valley, Ojai's most prominent appearance in motion pictures was as the mythical ‘Shangri-La' in Frank Capra's production of Lost Horizon. Many years later, the city's picturesque intimacy proved an important visual element to the overall feeling director Gluck sought to convey.

"What I wanted to do with this movie was put everything in perspective from a small town,” says Gluck. "This is a movie how hard it is to be a girl in high school. When you're a girl having trouble in high school, you can't escape it. The only thing smaller is if you also can't escape a small town. If you're walking down the street, all the problems you have in school are outside of the school as well. The teacher you had trouble with, the kid who's making fun of you…they're all right in your face. I wanted to find a small town that Olive could not lose herself in. We were lucky enough to be able to shoot in Ojai, which has exactly the feel I was looking for, and it also happens to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

As well as being able to offer the small town feel that the filmmakers were looking for, Ojai also boasted the perfect primary location: Nordhoff High School. The longstanding high school – with an open-air campus that takes advantage of the region's warm weather -- changed to Ojai North High School for the purposes of filming.

"It was very interesting,” offers Gluck, "because I'm originally from New York, and I initially thought high school scenes had to have hallways, because that's where everyone meets, but in most California schools there are no hallways. All doors open to the outside. The congregational areas are all outside. At one point it was tough to get my bearings on it, but once you kind of embrace that that's the way they live out here, it all became a character. The kids would come out from one class and see each other as they walk across the campus to their next classroom. We shot there for two and a half weeks, and it becomes a big part of the movie because that's their whole world during the day, and the town is their world at night.”

In addition to lending the physical facilities, which were available because of summer vacation, the school was beneficial in providing immeasurable resources that helped with the film's authenticity. Plus, many of Nordhoff High's students chose to spend their vacation back at the school, serving as extras. For a key scene in the film, the school gymnasium was filled with not only students as attendees, but also the school band, cheerleaders and basketball players all played a part.

In the course of one shooting day, three separate scenes were filmed in the gymnasium to show the different incarnations of the school mascot over the course of time. In the first scene, Penn Badgley was covered in blue face and body paint for his appearance as the "Blue Devil.” Badgley was then cleaned up for the next scene where, due to pressure from the school's religious youth group, the mascot has been changed from the devil into a more conservative, less-threatening woodchuck. The actor was put into the bulky character costume, where he proceeded to run through the gym revving up the crowd. The third, and certainly most ambitious scene of the shooting day serves as one of the key moments in the film, as Olive makes a very dramatic and unexpected announcement to the gathered crowd.

Badgley found himself back in blue paint, and in the woodchuck costume at the same time, as Emma Stone performed a song and dance number before addressing the student body. "It's already sort of a miserable feeling having the body paint on that's clogging your pores and feels claustrophobic, and then to have the woodchuck costume on top of that,” says the actor. "I was shirtless in the scene, so the seams were rubbing against the skin. It was really hot in the costume, and production had to turn the air conditioning off for the scene. There was a lot of sweating, and in each take I'd have to run around, throw things into the crowd, yell and scream, have the costume ripped off, and then pick Emma up and join in the dance. It was a long, arduous process.”

Although no one doubted her talents prior to the filming of the gym number, Emma Stone surpassed everyone's already high expectations. "It's very clear that Emma is an amazing actress,” says Will Gluck, "but she's very modest and humble, so you don't know just how talented she is. Before we filmed the scene in the gym, she had to work with a choreographer and record the track. I didn't know how good she was going to do it. I went to her first choreography rehearsal and she was stunning, after which she tells me, ‘I took twelve years of dance.' And then she went into a room and recorded the song, and I was amazed. ‘Oh yeah, I took voice for ten years too.'”

Choreographer Jennifer Hamilton says the key to a scene like the gym number is "bringing comedy to it, bringing fun to it and letting the actors bring a little bit of what they do to it as well.” As for what audiences can expect, she says, "Hopefully, they'll be surprised and blown away at Emma's talent, first of all. Because, she's a great, great dancer, and she can move so well.”

For the actress, the physical demands of the scene were no problem, but she was acutely aware of having to do it for a live, on-set audience. "It was a little embarrassing because I felt like I was back in high school, dancing in a burlesque costume and fishnets in front of five hundred of my peers,” says Stone. Even though she had pre-recorded the song she would be performing to, Stone requested that the playback audio not be in her own voice. "I'm not one of those people who can't watch the playback of the scenes and see my own performance,” she explains, "but in this instance, with everything I had to do, and as embarrassing as I felt it was, I needed one thing I could feel more comfortable with, and that was if the song was not my own voice. It would have been just too overwhelming with my voice pouring out of the speakers.”

Another voice notwithstanding, those in attendance could not have been more impressed with Stone's show stopping performance that day. "She is incredible,” remarks veteran actor Malcolm McDowell, who portrays the no-nonsense high school principal. "I'm supposed to be frowning and really pissed off about what's happening in the scene, but when I was off-camera, I actually found myself in the crowd, whistling, standing up and cheering because she did such a great job.”

Despite the intricacies and physicality of the dance number in the gymnasium, Stone points to another, more intimate scene as her most demanding. Agreeing to help her popularity-challenged friend Brandon, the two youths attend a party where they pretend to have sex as a group of teens listen outside the bedroom door. In the privacy of the room – but well aware of their unseen eavesdroppers -- the two jump up and down on the bed, making noises, saying outrageous things, and pounding haphazardly on the walls.

"It felt like we did a million takes of that scene,” recalls Stone. "After a while I felt like I was hyperventilating, and my lungs were closing up. I had an asthma attack for the first time since I was six. It's the second day of shooting, and at one point they had to bring me an oxygen tank, and I felt like an idiot. It just pointed out what terrible shape I'm in. With all the jumping up and down and yelling and screaming and banging, I was bruised. My hands were swollen at the end of the night.”

Happily for all, t


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