Crime Fighting Cheerleaders Now what would you love to see on the silver screen again? Another comic book movie? Pretty girls with pom-poms? Or maybe even a Grindhouse slanted flick? Hey! I know! Why not a combination of all three of these things! A comic book Grindhouse movie played by pretty girls with pom-poms in it! Sounds good to me. And it sound pretty good to the director of this film, Thom, too. Here, check out a conversation we had the other day whilst dancing with Tina Turner and Meryl Streep.

Naked Filmmaking

1) To me, Thom, your movie, ‘Crime Fighting Cheerleaders', looks like a cross between the eighties television show, ‘the A-Team’, and ‘Glee’? In your own words how would you describe your movie?   The stylistic allusions to the A-Team were intentional, right down the cool GMC van. The movie is meant to be a tribute to the grindhouse and exploitation movies of the 70s, as well as cop tv shows of the 70s and 80s. But unlike other retro-grindhouse movies (like 'Machete', 'Planet Terror', 'Black Dynamite' and 'I’m gonna get you Sucka'), Spirit Squad is not meant to be campy, goofy or a parody of the genre. But rather a genuine super-hero made within the grindhouse genre.

Crime Fighting Cheerleaders
We are setting out to make a movie that the grindhouse generation would have loved to have been able to make, but couldn’t because of budget and technological restrictions. The complete movie will have cutting edge special effects, CGI graphics and the like. These things weren’t possible back in the 70s and 80s. So the spirit and style of the movie are very much rooted in 70s and 80s TV and grindhouse cinema, but it is a contemporary super-hero movie from start to finish.

2) Where did the idea behind this film come from? And was any of it based on your own personal experiences?   People always ask me “where do you get your ideas from?”, and I can never give an adequate answer. I've always been a highly creative person and ideas come to me constantly. The real question to me, is with so many different ideas for movies, how does one decide which one to work on? Which one will stick?

In this case, I just loved the idea from the beginning. It’s a cool concept, it’s original and it really hasn't been done before. There have been two attempts at a movie in this genre, but they really weren’t done in the style or scope that we are attempting. There really hasn’t been a great crime-fighting cheerleaders movie done yet, and we would like to be the first. Hopefully, the trailer gets enough people excited about this show that we will make our funding goal and get this movie made.

3) What film, or amalgamation of films, could you compare your piece to?   Too many to name, really. The original 'Charlie’s Angels' TV show certainly qualifies, as well as the 'A-Team', 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Alias'. But since our movie is a super-hero movie with female characters in the lead roles, there really aren’t too many comparisons. In creating the piece I tried to draw from many different stylistic influences and yet create a wholly new and original kind of entertainment at the same time.

I won’t deny the greatest amount of influence, at least stylistically and how we shot the trailer were from two of my favorite directors, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Quentin and I grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same high school, and certainly enjoy a lot of the same kinds of movies. Robert has had huge impact on me as a filmmaker for wealth of helpful information that he always shares about the process. We applied a great many of the filmmaking principles taught by Robert Rodriguez when making the trailer. Most notably being “fast, cheap and under control”. The two movies that they did together for their 'Grindhouse' double feature were a big influence for sure.

4) If you film was a song, what song would it be and why?   'Hella Good' by No Doubt and 'Fighter' by Christina Aguilera. This film is very much a female empowerment / girl power movie, and those two songs capture the spirit of the message behind the movie very much. It’s about women standing up for themselves, being strong and fighting for what they believe is right.

When I was writing the screenplay for Spirit Squad, I created a playlist for the film. I continued listening to these songs through pre-production, and I listened to it obsessively during the editing of the trailer. Some of the other songs on the playlist include 'Sisters are doing it for themselves' by The Eurythmics, 'Army of Me' by Bjork, 'Be true to your school' by The Beach Boys. And if there is one song that represents The Vicious Vixens (the evil cheerleader enemies of the Spirit Squad) it would definitely be 'Fight Song' by Marilyn Manson.

Crime Fighting Cheerleaders
5) If you could assign an smell to your film, what odor would it be and why?   Funny question, and I actually have an answer for it. It would be the smell of being inside a van in the 70s with shag carpet. When we were shooting the pitch trailer, I was riding in the Spirit Squad van with the girls, and I actually said “this is what this movie should smell like”. The van was a real old school GMC van from the early 80s, and it had just the right smell.

6) What are your aspirations for this project?    I would love nothing more than for Spirit Squad to be a big hit with the public. But I realistically know that super-hero movies and grindhouse movies of this type are a more restricted segment of the audience at large. I do believe that if I get to make the movie the way I see it in my head, it could have a huge following. We showed very little in the pitch trailer, the real action happens in the movie itself.

Most independent films don’t see the light of day in theatrical domestic distribution and I’m realistic about that too. I’d be happy with theatrical distribution of Spirit Squad outside the U.S. and cable, DVD, Redbox, Netflix, etc. distribution in the states.

Spirit Squad is a trilogy and much of the second and third films have already been planned out as well. The second movie gets bigger with the girls saving the city from an army of zombies. And the third movie is too big to talk about right now. I’m focused on getting the first film made and then we’ll take it from there.

7) What are your own origins Thom? Plus what path did you take to get into this movie making business?   I grew up in the South Bay area of Southern California in the town of Lomita. I started making plays and comic books as a kid. That was really when I first started making movies. I made them in my head. My brothers were always pointing how bloopers in movies and how special effects and stunts were done. That started me off at a very early age thinking about movies analytically. As I grew older, I would get books from the library and study to teach myself how movies were made.

Eventually when DVDs came into being, I became a kid in the candy store, studying as many behind the scenes features as I could get my hands on. Books and TVs have taught me more about film-making than any other source, and the books and DVDs by Robert Rodriguez have always been the most helpful to me overall.

I came to be a filmmaker after many years of wanting to be a filmmaker, but being afraid and intimidated that I wouldn’t be good enough. As I got older, I finally stopped caring and just started doing it. If you want to be something you just need to decide to become it and start doing it. That’s exactly what I did. I decided one day that I was a director, started making movies and never looked back. Since then, I’ve been very lucky and fortunate to have a lot talented people agree to work on my projects.

Crime Fighting Cheerleaders

Wonder Woman
8) If your movie was a 'singleton' going on a date, who would it be attracted to and why?   Probably geeks and comic book fanboys mostly. This movie is a female empowerment piece, so I think a lot of women and girls will dig it. But there is something undeniable cool and attractive to the fanboys of this world about beautiful women kicking butt like amazon super-heros.

9) If there was a message behind this movie, what would it be, and why would you want to convey it?   The message from the beginning has always been “Believe in Yourself”. I know it’s been done a million times before, but it’s probably the most important message you can send to young people.

The Spirit Squad girls are heros who eventually become who they are because they believe in themselves, and they believe that anything is possible. Their polar opposite enemies, The Vicious Vixens, become who they are because they gave up on themselves and quit believing that they could be anything they want.

This movie will appeal to both male and female audiences, but it definitely has a strong female empowerment theme. Most super-heros made by Hollywood feature male characters. There have been a ton of male centric super-hero movies made by the studios, but still no Wonder Woman movie. I believe the public wants a movie with strong female characters.

So there you have it dear reader, my made Thom and his wonderful film. Please, when you have the time, check out his website, Crime Fighting Cheerleaders, plus don't forget to click on the respective facebook, twitter, and kickstart fundraising pages. You could be an investor on this enterprise don't you know.

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