June 5, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. - The UCF cheerleading squad recently found out why there is no business like show business when the production company behind the latest movie in the Bring It On franchise announced an open casting call for cheerleaders.
Sophomore Dinah Schierer, who was recently featured on the cover of American Cheerleader magazine, was one of the first to learn about the opportunity from a former alumnus of the UCF program, but the news spread quickly. Before auditions were completed, six Knights - Schierer, sophomores Cory Brown and Brian White, seniors Jake Waldrup and Tim Johnson and freshman Lauren Whitt - signed up to play various roles in the film, which was shot at Universal Orlando during April and May.
Bring It On: In It to Win It follows two rival teams - called the Jets and the Sharks - and loosely follows the storyline of the popular musical Westside Story, culminating with a "cheer rumble."
"Being a part of the Bring It On film series was one of the highlights," said Waldrup. "I'm proud of this movie. It has an interesting plot. The cast is really talented. I think the stunts outshine the ones done in the past."
It was because of their skills that the cheerleaders were hired as they lent the film credibility and were often used as stand-ins for the actors. Others were members of the various teams portrayed in the movie.
Schierer learned two routines and spent 10 days on set as captain of the Prairie Dogs, a less than impressive squad whose members fall numerous times during their performance. Her Knights' teammates Waldrup and Whitt were among those who began rehearsals two weeks prior to filming. They had to learn up to 10 different routines for their roles and logged 30 days on set.
"The stunts were collegiate level stunts," said Whitt. "Of course, there were a lot more people involved, so learning the cheer was easy. It was more fun than work."
"We were stunting, tumbling and dancing non-stop," added Waldrup. "It was tiring but not as mentally taxing as the national championship routine. For the movie, it wasn't as much about technique. They weren't worried about perfection because they can edit bits and pieces of the best performances together seamlessly."
For the student-athletes, being a part of Bring It On was also a lesson in time management. The first part of production took place as classes at UCF were winding down and finals loomed on the horizon. Waldrup and his teammates were forced to balance class reviews and exams with the filming schedule. The underclassman - Schierer, Whitt, Brown and White - also had to prepare for UCF's cheerleading tryouts in early May.
"The professors and production team were all understanding and accommodating," said Waldrup, who received his degree in psychology this spring. "Sometimes I can't believe we made it work."
The Knights were able to utilize some of the downtime between takes to study, but they also took the opportunity to bond with the other cheerleaders who came from a variety of backgrounds and traveled to Orlando from throughout the country.
"One of my favorite things about the experience was all the people I met. We compared UCF and the Universal Cheerleaders Association to some of the other schools and the National Cheerleading Association," said Whitt, whose character becomes injured after falling off the top of a pyramid.
Schierer, meanwhile, took the time to soak up the atmosphere. "I learned so much about the process of movie making," said the marketing major. "It isn't as glamorous as many people think because it's a lot of long days in the hot sun. I'd love the opportunity to do it again."
"It definitely opened my eyes to a whole new possibility," said Waldrup. "I am grateful that I got the chance to have this experience. If the opportunity ever arose again, I know I would be more savvy, but I'm not going to move to Hollywood or anything. I still want to return to school and get my PhD in psychology, but if I want to earn some extra money, I now have the contacts in the industry.'
Bring It On: In It to Win It is slated for straight-to-video release in 2008. The Knights who participated are anxious to see the finished product. "I can't wait until the movie comes out," said Waldrup. "I'll be watching and playing my own game of `Where's Waldo?'"