My friends made a movie! Irving Franco, a childhood friend of mine, released his first film Cheerleader last year and is quickly being recognized in film festivals around the world. He’s being called “one of the most unique and intriguing new voices in indie film.” and the film has been called “a brilliantly insane style piece, but with a surprising amount of heart. It feels like a collision of The Virgin Suicides and Election, but, at the same time, is wholly its own film. ”
The movie’s title lends to a simple notion of a young, doe-eyed cheerleader and when we meet Mickey, she is just that. Boy- crazy, self-conscious, and insecure.
Aesthetically, the movie is brilliant. It is colorful, dramatic, invokes teenage awkwardness, and high school vibes all at once. It seems as though the film is about a petty, shallow cheerleader that just wants to be liked but as the movie develops, she develops into an emotional, thought- provoking young adult. But what’s interesting about this character is, although she is constantly evolving, it doesn’t seem dishonest. She is true to herself and her character the entire time. Her dialogue, disposition, and temperament stays constant throughout. You watch her begin to think for herself and find her own voice. The way she voices and articulates her thoughts, fears, and insecurities is breathtaking. Her bright blue eyes are earnest and sensitive the entire time.
The movie includes actors CATHERINE BLADES best known for work in Jessica Jones, LORI HAMMEL who was in Burn After Reading and CATHERINE MARY STEWART: Weekend at Bernies.
Here are some factoids about the film that we gathered through an interview with one of the costume designers, Alyse Franco.
Irving wrote the first screenplay for cheerleader when he was in high school. The original script called for an ensemble cast with ten leads. He evolved the movie and changed it through out the years. For a writing class in college, Franco wrote a short story about the cheerleader character, fleshing out her emotional life and backstory, he then decided to make the whole movie about just her. The visual direction for the movie was something he conceptualized back when he was in high school based on the classic coming of age high school films of the 80’s.
- Irving had the idea for the entire visual approach. He knew exactly what the school should like , the bedroom should like, the red BMW from that era was a must. All of the set design was conceived of and executed by Irving and his team.
- Mickey’s room evolved from a set of bedsheets he found in his mom’s basement. He wanted it to invoke the Full House bedroom. He used his own childhood bedroom as the set for these scenes, turning it into this 80s wonderland. He and his wife, Alyse Franco, stylist, propped the entire room out from vintage stores, and painted the wallpaper with the team. (I want it!)
- The garage scene was filmed in his grandmother’s garage. He had always imagined an idea 80s style video chat wall and he literally assembled the wall of TV’s himself.
- A lot of the movie was filmed in Deal, NJ and Brooklyn, NY- where Franco and I both grew up. The magic of Deal and NJ is something that Franco totally captured.
- Costume design was by Alyse Franco and Sonia Beyda – with guidance by Irving. When planning the costumes each psyche was explored, and the costumes were articulated through the lens of Mickey’s perspective. As her character develops and we become more sympathetic toward Mickey, her hair and makeup change and become softer and kinder making her more likable to the audience.
- The clothing was sourced from their own closets, etsy and Brooklyn vintage shops.
- The actresses slated to play Barbara backed out last minute, and Rachel – Sonia and Alyse’s sister stepped in to play the role just three days before filming. She was the break out star of the film!
- Irving and his friend Michael Grazi recorded the entire score of the movie over the course of the year. You can find it on soundcloud HERE.
- Franco and his team are cooking up a couple of new feature films, so keep an eye out for this rising star!
Check out some off our favorite scenes from the movie… You can totally get the vibe of the film from these stills… some of which we would love to own as art! The film’s aesthetics are magical!
The first screening of the film in Bushwhick this weekend is sold out, so a second screening was added:
DATE AND TIMESun, October 2, 2016
3:00 PM – 4:10 PM
BUFFALO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL:
Monday October 10, 2:45PM Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center
NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL:
Saturday Oct 15 8:30 pm | Theatres at Canal Place #1
Thursday Oct 20 9:00 pm | Theatres at Canal Place #2