This post was written by Traci Hays.

As someone who hates the color pink and never understood the point of cheerleaders, Blood, Sweat and Cheerwould not seem like the obvious project for me to take on.

But I love a good challenge and after reading the script for the first time, I was blown away by the clever, witty writing by Barbara Zagrodnik full of twists and turns. My entire opinion of cheerleaders changed after watching the first episode of Netflix's Cheer.  I had no idea how dangerous, competitive, and technical cheerleading is.

They are true athletes!

While they had months to practice their routines, the film’s cheer teams had two weeks to learn their routines… and with the help of the very talented choreographer, Tessa Garcia, delivered dynamic performances. 

As a product of the late '80s /early '90s, I’m a huge Jawbreakers, Clueless, Pretty In Pink, and Heathers fan. This film offered the perfect opportunity to set the visual style dripping in bubblegum pink because our heroine, Renee (played by Tammin Sursok) is stuck in her past.

Tammin is a powerhouse and an underrated actor.

We cast her less than a week out from the start of principal photography, and she showed up prepared for anything (including bleaching her hair blonde!). Despite the short shooting schedule, we were able to cover a lot of ground each day with the support of a very talented cast and crew.

My producers, James Suttle and Jason Winn were fantastic collaborators who supported my vision and most importantly, set a positive mood on set that made showing up to work every day a true joy.

When it came to the music for the film, I wanted to find the balance between the dark and funny tone through gritty punk rock, and composer, Neil Lee Griffin, found the sweet spot! He found shades of edginess with an electric base and raw sounds that emulated Renee’s downward spiral.

I’ve gotta give a shoutout to the editor, Aaron Putnam, whose impeccable sense of rhythm and timing of cutting a scene elevated the dark comedy, especially during the highly stylized sequences throughout the film.  

Every step of making this film has been such a good experience. I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity to bring this crampy insanely over-the-top story to life.

I will admit that the color of pink has grown on me! 

You can listen to Tracy Hays on the No Film School Podcast. 

This post was written by Traci Hays, a DGA Award-nominated director, a production designer, and art director who has received numerous awards for the various shorts she has directed. Her feature directorial debut, Tangled, was named a “must-see movie” by The Hollywood Reporter. She recently directed Blood, Sweat and Cheer, her second feature, which is a dark love letter to Heathers, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, and Clueless.