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CHEERLEADERS AND AUTOPSIES: A conversation with Stu Dodge. PDF Print E-mail
Written by by Mike Watt   
Jan 15, 2005 at 02:00 AM
It's the fantasy of every unpopular kid in high school: a busload of cheerleaders wind up in a horrible accident, their bodies dismembered, maimed, mutilated. Then these parts are molested by disturbed coroners working on the secret of reanimation. Sitting on the bench in my band uniform, I must've had that one about a hundred times.

Writer/director Stu Dodge is the one deserving of the credit and blame for the new raunchy and subversive comedy, "Cheerleader Autopsy", in which the very things mentioned above take place in living color on the new Indie Force DVD.

What was the inspiration for "Cheerleader Autopsy"?

There's been a rumor that "Cheerleader Autopsy" was based on a true story...the story of a corrupt mortician mistreating corpses in the backwoods of Georgia. Well, as many of your readers may remember, there was a naughty Georgia mortician arrested for crimes against the dead, but that news broke in early 2002...many months after we'd finished shooting. I'm afraid the real inspiration for the movie is much more benign...

I was sipping coffee one morning, trying to come up with a concept for a new screenplay (actually, I think it was a beer I was sipping). Anyway...after scribbling a bunch of random titles on a yellow pad, "Cheerleader Autopsy" popped into my head. I thought it had a nice ring to it, and since I was hell bent on writing a play that featured hot chicks and gore (with a comedic slant), the title fit perfectly!

How was the actual production? Tell us about the wacky insanity, etc.

Prepping and shooting "Cheerleader Autopsy" was a BLAST! We shot the movie over a three-week period in June, 2001; the majority of the work taking place on our stage. When I say stage, I'm talking about a former auto body shop we rented. The old building was wedged between a tire wholesaler and a meat processing plant, providing us with many interesting neighbors...and smells. The tire guys turned out to be a great asset, loaning us a compressor for our nail guns when we were building the sets. The stream of bloody water that flowed past our stage door each time the meat plant was hosed down, however, we could have done without...Ah, the joy of low-budget filmmaking!

I was fortunate to have a hard working, experienced crew and a solid A.D. to keep me on track, both on stage and out on location. They were always willing to jump in and help when a problem arose...like the time we had to find a way to get a dog to lick a "dead" cheerleader's crotch. One crewmember hid some cheese under the "corpse's" skirt...no go...another tried bologna...same story (and yes, we did try dog food, but that didn't work either). It was our boom guy that came up with the solution...French onion dip from the craft service table...If you ever need a dog to lick a crotch, give it a try!

Another example of the crew's willingness to help out was the topless scenes. Funny how when a girl's gonna show her tits, all the guys on the crew (plus the Fed Ex guy, the location's HVAC guy, the pizza delivery guy, etc.) eagerly show up to lend a helping hand! Of course, to maintain a professional working environment, we'd insist that all the guys leave the set before the tops came off...all the guys except for me, that is!

Jokes aside...it was the tireless efforts of my awesome crew and an equally professional cast that allowed us to roll camera nearly 800 times over 14 days of shooting (staying on schedule and budget). If it sounds like I'm boasting, I am, as I'm very proud of what we accomplished! To see more of the crew in action, check out the "behind the scenes" extra on the DVD!

What's the reaction been to the final product? Are you happy with the way it came out?

Overwhelmingly positive! The reviews on the web and in publications have been very complimentary, reinforcing my feeling that there IS an audience out there that understands and appreciates this kind of movie. I salute those of you who'd rather take a chance on a bizarre independent, than sit around and be spoon fed another steamy bowl of Hollywood poop!

As far as being happy with the way "Cheerleader Autopsy" turned out...I'd have to say I'm extremely pleased with the finished product. I'll even go out on a limb and say it's the best damn cheerleader movie I've ever made! Okay...it's the only cheerleader movie I've ever made, but you get the point...

What's your own background ? how did you get into filmmaking?

I'll try to keep this brief...loved movies as a kid (mainly horror & sci-fi)...shot a bunch of shorts on Super 8 with my friends as actors...put the camera away and chased girls during my high school years...eventually went to college to study film (ZZZZzzzz!), then...

Quit college when I landed my first film job...spent the next decade working on features, TV movies and the like (mainly office and set production). A few years ago I realized that being a "cog in the machine" of big budget film making was sucking the love of movies right out of me, so I started weaning myself off the Hollywood "teat" and concentrating on my own projects.

Any projects coming up you'd care to plug?

I'm currently working on the third incarnation of a script entitled "Rednecks Taste Like Chicken". If this version works out, I plan to start shooting in early 2004. If it doesn't and I'm forced to start over again, there's a good chance I'll just throw my laptop out the damned window and take up landscaping! Wish me luck...

"Cheerleader Autopsy" is available for purchase through www.b-movie.com.

Visit Stu Dodge on the web at www.stinkypictures.com

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