Monday, July 7, 2008

HSM Info!

Wildcat Fans Everywhere,

School's out for summer. Out for good, actually. At least for Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Monique Coleman, Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel — the six principal players in Disney's High School Musical franchise.
Shooting just wrapped for their big-screen grand finale, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, due Oct. 24. While a fourth film is in the works, no one expects the primary players to return.
But for much of the spring and summer, the actors were together again at East High, where the original Disney Channel movie took off in 2006 and became a pop culture sensation, fueled by drama and dance numbers from Efron and Hudgens' sweethearts Troy and Gabriella; their pals Bleu and Coleman; and twin rivals played by Tisdale and Grabeel.
For the third time, set designers have transformed Salt Lake City's East High School into Disney's version of a freshly painted slice of academic Americana. Outside the main entrance, a red banner proclaiming "Congratulations Wildcats: Back to Back Champions!" has been hung. Broadway-grade red curtains hang in the auditorium for the musical numbers. And in the gym, Troy's basketball jersey has been retired, displayed up high next to those of his father and best pal, Chad.
The first HSM was shot for $4.2 million, the second, $7.8 million. Though there's more to work with for Senior Year (no one will say how much), the sets are still kept in the simple style of actual high school musical productions. Even a fantasy sequence features palm trees and flames made of paper.
"We always try to keep a naiveté," explains Kenny Ortega, who has directed all three films. "There is more scale and detail in High School Musical 3, but it's still our world — young people wishing and aspiring."
It has been a struggle to keep filming to its 45-day schedule, necessitating shoots that have lasted up to 18 hours. But the young actors aren't complaining. With summer temperatures on the rise, they have been hanging out in a inflatable kiddie pool outside Efron and Hudgens' trailer or in Tisdale's trailer, where the big draw is Guitar Hero on her Wii — a particular favorite of Efron's.
Efron, 20, was the last to sign on for film No. 3, but he says that had little to do with wanting a movie-star paycheck, which many believed he deserved after his lead role in Hairspray.
"High School Musical has always been a blast to work on since Day 1," he says. "I just didn't know if a third one would work. When the script came in, I thought it was very well done, and it was an easy yes."
Despite the cast's maturation, all the action on the screen remains strictly G-rated, which Ortega says has been a "great challenge."
Zac and Vanessa believes their chemistry shows on screen. "I'm such a hopeless romantic," she says. "You can feel the emotions Gabriella has for Troy. Zac and I have done three movies together now, and we can basically do anything in front of each other. We're so comfortable, we're not afraid to take chances."
Jared Murillo, who played a dancer in the first two films and took time off from his boy band, The Factory, to do a cameo in Senior Year. On set in the cafeteria, Murillo holds Tisdale's dog, Maui, and often hurries to her side during breaks for a kiss. "Thanks, baby," Tisdale tells him.
Another relationship that appears genuine: Ortega's with his "kids."
With the end of production drawing near, he is presented by the cast and crew with a bottle-cap necklace with three gems representing the HSM trilogy. A diamond represents Senior Year, which he views as his opus — though, he hopes, not his finale.

The finale of the film is, of course, a graduation scene. It's a big song-and-dance number shot on the football field, inspired by Ortega's work on Super Bowl halftime shows and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Atlanta and Salt Lake City.

The film also includes sequences with a bit less flash but plenty of humor. Sharpay (Tisdale) gets an over-the-top I Want It All dream sequence, in which she envisions herself and twin brother Ryan (Grabeel) as superstars. Though only four minutes of screen time, the sequence takes three days to shoot.
Through Sharpay's eyes, her friends are seen in various subservient roles, including Efron, who plays a crazed fan at a movie premiere.
"It's pretty fun," Efron says between takes. He's dressed in a T-shirt with Sharpay's image silk-screened on the front and has a big red heart tattoo on his bicep with an "SE" (for Sharpay Evans) in its center. "It's my chance to switch roles."
Though Tisdale gets dolled up in a platinum wig for her fantasy scene, the cast seems to rebel against high fashion off-camera. Tisdale shuffles around in ratty old slippers, Hudgens has on short denim cut-offs, and Grabeel is wearing something his character never would — brown sandals and black socks.

Just over a week ago, Corbin Bleu wrapped his final scene for October's High School Musical 3: Senior Year. It was a duet with his buddy Zac Efron for the big musical number "The Boys Are Back". "We finally get to do a duet together," says Bleu, 19. "It's in this junkyard where our characters spent so much of our childhood pretending to be pirates and ninjas. It's a whole fantasy of us being kids again."For the flashback scenes, child actors were cast to play young Chad and Troy — with the junior Chad donning a wig resembling Bleu's trademark locks. Bleu realizes how strongly identified he is with that killer 'do and says he would consider cutting it off only for a strong movie role. "I don't want to cut it just to create shock," he says. The junkyard shoot left Bleu with a few unintentional souvenirs. "I was a mess afterward," he says, lifting his sleeve to show his scars. "Plenty of little bumps and bruises. But, hey, now I have my war marks." Bleu's father makes his HSM debut in Senior Year as Chad's dad. He has played his son's on-screen father twice before, including in a film they produced called Free Style. Set in the motocross world, it's due to hit theaters in January.


nda said...

i love this movie..=)

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