Where should I start? In March 2010, my wife Stacey came to me and said “I want to make a workout DVD for cheerleaders and dancers”. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to say “Let’s do it”. It was only a matter of a day after she told me about this until we started preparing to make this DVD. We were about to embark on an adventure that we will never forget. Stacey, being an expert fitness instructor and successful ex-cheerleader and cheerleading coach, and me a project manager for 11 years, we combined our skills to make this dream a reality. We started out with a business plan that outlined the necessary tasks to get us off the ground. Next we had a few brainstorm sessions and wrote down everything we could think of related to the project (songs, exercises, cheer events, websites, advertising, everything!). After a few Sunday morning meetings (Stacey loved the Sunday morning meetings, her so-called sleep-in day), we realized how much work this was going to be.
Scene 2- Looking For The Music
One of the first things we had to accomplish was finding the songs that would fit our workout. We tirelessly searched the web (youtube) looking for songs that would fit each track. Little did we know that it was going to take 8 months to get full approvals for the songs we selected. Naive about the entire approval process, we pressed on and slowly found songs that would fit this workout. As soon as we had enough songs that we thought would work, it was time to submit them to the record labels, artists and writers. The process was long and each week during this 8 month process, we were anxious to see which songs would be approved or denied. In most cases we would receive partial approval on the song. When we did, we had to make a decision if we were going to take a chance and choreograph the track or be smart and wait for full approval. Read the next scene to see what we did.
Scene 3- Developing The Moves
As soon as we received partial approvals on some of the songs, Stacey started to develop the exercises and choreography. We would spend our weekends and nights after work practicing these moves and trying to make them work with the songs. I will never forget the first time we started making up moves was next to the pool area at the Contemporary in Disney while on vacation. I had my IPod out and captured Stacey’s ideas on tape. I always tried to carry my IPod with me in case Stacey had an inspirational moment. Stacey would occasionally get annoyed at me because I would egg her on to make up some exercises, even on line at Splash Mountain.
Disney was not the only place we developed the exercises. Now, we live in the bottom apartment of our 3 family house and have neighbors and tenants that can see our back patio. Now picture Stacey and I in our pajamas and sneakers with our dog Duke in the backyard practicing these moves with the music blasting.
It was a sight to see. As we mentioned in the previous scene we had to obtain full master and publisher use rights for each song. We were so excited to get this thing moving we decided to start the choreography for partially approved songs. Bad idea. Lets just say more than one song was partially approved, then denied for the other use, and we had it completely choreographed!!! Our neighbors and tenants saw some more practice sessions in the backyard then they bargained for.
Scene 4- Mixing The Music
During the backyard sessions, I would have the computer in hand along with IPod (for the camera) and act as the makeshift “audio and visual engineer”. We knew we had to choose certain songs with the right tempo and length for each track. The notes that I took were endless. Songs were shuffled around, songs were removed, songs were denied for use after they were choreographed. The process brought us to our knees sometimes, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. In a few months time we started to get full approvals and the choreography was substantially complete. It was time to hang out in Intermediapost’s music studio to record the music. Now things were starting to take shape.
Scene 5- Finding A Practice Facility
Our first meeting with Ryan and Allison was once again, on the back patio. Now the neighbors became really interested. This time I had to clear the entire patio which was only about 18’ x 12’ and set up my makeshift engineers table in Stacey’s parking space. We only realized the practice space was too small when Ryan kept hitting his left arm on the foundation of the house during the grapevine. We knew we had to find a place to rehearse, and quick.
A few weeks after our patio rehearsal, we began to call local dance and martial arts studios to reserve a space with mirrors, sound system and a wood floor. It was important we did this rehearsal because our film deadline was rapidly approaching. It was the Thursday before our Saturday rehearsal, and I called about 30 places. Everyone I spoke to told me they are booked. A few I left messages for. I started to realize you have to book these places weeks in advance. It was Friday night, the night before the scheduled rehearsal, and we thought we were going to have another backyard patio rehearsal. But then I got a return call from Faustini’s Institute of Martial Arts at the last minute on Friday night. Mr. Faustini told me he was about to leave for the night so I jumped in my car and drove down to meet him. The place suited our needs and we were in business. Mr. Faustini even gave me the keys to his place for future rehearsals. It’s amazing the people you meet in this world that are gracious enough to help you in a time of need. And trust you with the keys to their business!!! which I still have to give back.
Scene 6- The Production
Rehearsing the production, as mentioned in the previous scene, started on the back patio and migrated into an indoor facility. We spent 8 Saturdays and Sundays rehearsing before the film date, which was originally scheduled for November 20, 2010. Due to music approval issues, we were forced to postpone the filming to December 19, 2010, but once again, forced to push it back to January 22, 2011. At the time we were eager to film, but the delays gave us some more time to finalize the music and practice with the instructors. With limited funds, Stacey and I had to act as the writers and producers for the production. Our ideas were literally written on the backs of napkins during vacations, on road trips or whenever we found time. We wrote the introduction, the stage lines, and the technique portion. We also had to pick out the workout outfits and shoes, design the logos for the workout outfits and figure out the layout and stage size for the production.
Stacey also had to find cheerleaders to be in the production and find time to practice with them before the film date. With the help of Intermediapost and Rollercoaster Studios, the film day was a success. The only thing left to do was edit and get the DVD ready to market.