“Pitch Perfect” explores a dream that many college students subscribe to.
“The idea that this nerd could become a rock star just by opening his mouth is pretty powerful,” said Elizabeth Banks, who produced and acted in the film. Where can a nerd become a rock star by singing? Only in the world of college a cappella – the backdrop for the film directed by Jason Moore and starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Hollywood’s most recently favored plus-sized starlet, Rebel Wilson (“Bridesmaids,” “Bachelorette”).
“Technically it’s just a movie where we sing; it’s not a musical,” said Kendrick.
Even if it isn’t a musical, much of the talent behind the film has theater experience. Kendrick won a Tony Award at the age of 12, while romantic lead Skylar Astin starred in the acclaimed Broadway hit “Spring Awakening.”
“When you do a Broadway show, it really teaches you so much about yourself, not just as an actor but as a person, because you have to churn this product out eight times a week and you have to really connect,” said Astin. “It gave me this work ethic that I apply to everything. But this movie in particular, I really got to dig into that because this combines all the elements of genres that I have done before.”
For Moore, the director of Broadway hit “Avenue Q,” the most difficult part of his film directorial debut was synthesizing the a cappella component into the movie.
“I was not prepared for how intricate and talented you have to be to sing all these different parts all together and dance at the same time, so I have an extra kind of respect for a cappella groups now that I’ve been through this process. So do our actors, now that we kind of busted their asses to get them there.”
Ester Dean, the Grammy-nominated songwriter behind top hits by Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyoncé and 50 Cent, also co-starred in the film. Before she was cast, “Pitch Perfect” was already set to include an a cappella rendition of Rihanna’s hit “S&M,” which Dean wrote with three other songwriters. “You want your songs to be able to keep on going and growing,” said Dean, explaining how honored she was to have the song included in the film. Careful not to be too self-congratulatory, Dean said that her favorite song to perform was a mashup between Bruno Mars and Nelly.
“One of the challenges of picking a movie with music is that you have such a long time until it comes out, a year or even more. How do you make it relevant?” Moore said. He chose to use “Titanium” before it became the oft-played hit it is today. The strategy that he employed in selecting songs was to pick songs of all genres so that the film would appeal to a broad audience.
“Pitch Perfect” is a comedy, a movie where the characters sing, a fictional a cappella exposé and, ultimately, a college film. Moore explained the appeal of setting a film in college: “Everybody who has been to college has had a similar experience: meeting your roommate for the first time and figuring out who your friends are going to be, where your place is in the world. That’s a very relatable thing for any age.”
The experience of making “Pitch Perfect” was kind of like college, claimed co-stars Astin and Anna Camp. It was the first time since Camp’s college experience that she bonded so well with a group of people. “We ate together, we rehearsed together, we lived in this hotel. It was really, really exactly like college,” she said. Except, maybe, for the hotel part.
Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow made up for not attending college during the filming process in Louisiana, when members of the cast were dragged to an LSU football game. “It was the first time I’d ever tailgated before, and I definitely made up for all my years of not tailgating,” said Snow.
“In one weekend!” laughed Kendrick.
Savannah Kopp has never attended a tailgate but would like to note that Raagapella’s newest posters also explore a college dream through their play on “Inception.”