Student debuts feature-length documentary on cheerleaders
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — After over a year’s worth of work, a local high school student debuted a feature-length documentary late December about her school’s cheerleaders.
Kayla Streepy’s “Ring Redemption” premiered late December at the Lakeside High School auditorium, The Sentinel-Record reported .
The 68-minute long movie follows the high school’s cheerleaders after the team suffered a loss at the state championships. The team had won the state championship 17 times in the previous 18 years -- having lost only once, in 2009. Following the upset in 2016, Streepy started following the team as they prepared for the 2017 season.
Streepy said following the historic loss, her broadcasting teacher Chris Slaton suggested that a student should follow the team. Streepy had previously been a member of the cheer team until she left earlier that season. Due to her experience with the team, and the fact she had free time after leaving it, Streepy decided she should be the one to document the team.
Slaton said he has no memory of suggesting the project. Not wanting to take any credit for the film away from his student, Slaton said, “I truly don’t remember that.”
When the team started back up in 2017, Streepy started attending practice again, but this time she was there with a camera. Almost every Wednesday, Streepy was at the meetings filming and interviewing members of the team.
Streepy said she felt like she had to tread lightly at first with the topic of the team losing. She said the team also initially seemed awkward in front of the camera. Eventually, both issues disappeared as the team got used to the constant filming and the cheerleaders started comparing their performances against the previous year.
Streepy also attended multiple competitions, including the 2017 state championships. Slaton said attending state was a good experience for Streepy and several other broadcasting students. The film students received press credentials, had four cameras rolling and put a microphone on the coach Judy Morton.
While the team did win the 18th championship at that competition, Streepy had no way of knowing that would happen. The whole time she was filming the project, she said she had no idea how the movie would end. “You can’t set up an end goal. You can’t write a climax or ending,” Streepy said. “You’re just documenting what happens.”
When filming was done, Streepy had around 35 hours of footage to sift through. Helping her along the way were around 30 of her classmates who helped her find good footage and helped film the project.
Slaton said he was very impressed with Streepy for managing to create the movie. He said it took him over a month before he really got behind the project, but once he realized how serious Streepy was taking the film, he really started pushing to see where it would go.
“I’m super proud; I think she did a fantastic job,” Slaton said.
In addition to filming practices and competitions, Streepy also filmed 52 interviews. Slaton said the project was “just enormous,” noting, “Ninety-nine percent of students would have thrown in the towel,” when they saw how much effort was required. “They know how hard it is to film a 60-second silent film, much less a documentary,” Slaton said.
When the film was finally finished, Streepy said she felt relieved, “but I really just wanted to take a nap.”
At the premiere, Slaton said he was happy with the turnout of the movie. One moment from the screening that stood out for Slaton was after it ended. An attendee of the movie “who didn’t care a thing about cheerleading” told Slaton that the movie was actually interesting.
Streepy has already won a couple of awards for the project. At the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association, she used the project for a demo reel and received an honorable mention. She also placed third in the film producer of the year award.
Work is not finished on the project, Slaton said, noting they plan to edit the movie into five episodes in the near future.
Both Streepy and Slaton said they wanted to thank the cheerleading team, Morton, the other people who helped make the movie and the Lakeside School District for supporting the project.
Information from: The Sentinel-Record, http://www.hotsr.com