Gophers cheerleaders get a taste of the movie business

Rachel Faynik was watching television at 3 a.m. when a familiar-looking trailer came on the screen. She quickly realized it was for a movie in which she and several fellow Gophers hockey cheerleaders had made their movie debut, and that was now ready for viewing.

The film, “Killer Movie,” was shot last summer, and will be shown at the Solstice Film Festival this week in St. Paul before opening in theaters closer to Halloween.

“Killer Movie,” described as a “live-action Scooby Doo” episode, is about a camera crew following a fictional Minnesota high school hockey team on its way to the state tournament. It isn’t long before the crew members are being murdered, one by one.

The Gophers cheerleaders play members of the White Plains High School cheerleading team, and the now-recent grads learned some lessons about the process of filmmaking.

“It’s not something everyone gets to do,” said Faynik, who was always interested in theater but never got a chance to act before.

Faynik said she also has a small part playing a student reacting to a catfight.

The cheerleaders also learned firsthand the not-so-glamorous side of making a movie.

“It’s not exciting 100 percent of the time,” Faynik said. “It’s a slow process.”

Monica Weir echoed her fellow cheerleader’s sentiments.

“They spent days and days and days on one scene,” she said.

Excited, the girls would rush to the set, only to sit around for hours and hours of waiting, Faynik said.

Jeff Fisher, writer and director of the film, said the cheerleaders were very patient with all the waiting around they had to endure.

The cheerleaders said their days on the set were a great bonding experience. They weren’t the only ones playing cheerleaders in the film, current Gophers cheerleading coach Kristina Hefty said, so they spent some time showing the other actors how to cheer.

Faynik said the Gophers hockey cheerleaders perform on ice, combining the grace of figure skating with the sharpness of cheering. However, that unique style of cheering will not be seen in “Killer Movie.”

Also, unlike their real cheering lives, the Gophers were asked to make posters and to do other things more on par with a high school cheer team, Weir said.

Nonetheless, the film was a great way to market the Gophers hockey cheerleaders, the one-time actors said.

All of the cheerleaders have yet to see the film on the big screen.

Fisher, who has mainly directed reality television shows like The Simple Life, said he tried to shine a light on what really goes on with reality television in “Killer Movie.”

Fisher began his career as a production assistant on the Martin Scorsese film “Cape Fear.” He said that, while he has worked with many great film crews, Minnesota had an especially terrific one.

“I’m really anxious for the crew to see (the movie),” he said.

While the cheerleaders said the overall experience was interesting, none of them plan on pursuing acting careers in the future.