CATCHING UP MIDSEASON: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES: Paul Stupin (Executive Producer) of Make It Or Break It
December 30th, 2009 by thetvchick
When Make It Or Break It premiered last summer, the first thought that popped into my mind was…how did they know that has been my idea for a show for years? But in all honesty, one of my other loves in life is gymnastics. I follow the sport closely, and I used to be a gymnast. So when I found out about a show that combines two of my greatest interests, I could hardly contain myself. I recently had the chance to visit the amazing set of the show (I even got to step foot in The Rock), and speak with the creator, executive producer and the cast members. It was an amazing visit and I’m so excited to finally be able to share with you all of the interviews. The mid-season premiere is less than a week away, and when I caught up with Paul Stupin (Executive Producer), we chatted about the upcoming season, how they built The Rock, and his gymnastics research and education.
So I’ve always said there should be a show about gymnastics…
I am a huge gymnastics fan, and I was a gymnast a while ago. What was the motivation behind writing a show about gymnastics?
Well, initially I was not aboard when Holly did the pilot. But when the opportunity came up to potentially come on board, the first thought was…wow how freaking cool is that? Because I had watched the Summer Olympics, that’s the one element of the Summer Olympics which I absolutely did not miss. And the thing that I found so appealing about it was that not only does it give us an opportunity to sort of create these great characters and their interactions and follow their lives and their romances and all the fun personal stuff. But it’s got this totally cool overlay with the gymnastics to which we can filter all of that. And so I just thought it was a great new spin on an ensemble drama show that gave us a chance to visually do something really fun and interesting.
Holly was saying that there was a ton of research done about the gymnastics world. Is that an ongoing process?
Well there are whole elements in terms of what we do to keep the verisimilitude alive and what’s so interesting about it is initially we’ll be sitting at the writers room and someone will come up with well something happens and they’ll be an injury. Well then the question is — what the hell happens and what’s the move and what’s the injury so I think we want to be as true to that world as we absolutely can be. And I think we’re doing a — one of our characters in the season finale had an accident, so especially in terms of how we follow that arc and that storyline. We want to be true to what an actual gymnast might experience. The other thing that’s funny –I don’t know if Holly mentioned it — when we’re sitting in the writers room and we come up with some interesting gymnastics thing — someone will go “well then she’ll do the flippity flip, and then after a really cool flippity flip,” so we have a gymnastics coordinator who comes in and [we] say “we need a great flippity flip for this, what do we do?” And I’ve learned all sorts of cool [terms] — the shushunova, things that I never knew about and it’s a gymnastics education for me, too.
I spoke with all the girls over the summer, and they all said they watched a lot of gymnastics on Youtube. Did you do the same thing?
Well, I just have loved gymnastics, so it’s so much fun. And I’ll tell you, when we’re shooting gymnastics, it’s so much fun. It really does feel like the Cirque De Soleil is happening because not only will we have on days we are shooting at The Rock our girls, but we’ll also have these incredible gymnasts in some cases the national champions, here doubling them. And then in the background we have other gymnasts playing background gymnasts, so it’s just this sort of visual treat. And all this fun action and eye candy to look at…it’s just really nice.
You have the four girls, but you also have Carter, who is a male gymnast. What was behind the decision to have a male gymnast? He perhaps distracts the girls, but his gymnastics is also showcased.
Right, well I think the fun of having both the guys and the girls forced to interact at The Rock is really cool, and a key element of the story is the strict no dating [policy]. So that adds a whole sense of potentially sneaking around and figuring out ways to transcend that regulation. I think that it’s fun to have the guys there. And I think that one of the things we’ll see this year is a little more of the guys in the gym. We focus so much on the girls, and certainly the girls are our core ensemble, but it will be great to see a little more guy gymnastics, too.
And when the whole set for The Rock was built, did you mirror any specific gym or was it just done with the help of the coordinators?
Good question. There was a production designer, who I know went to look at all of the gyms around Los Angeles, and out of that created I think — this slightly larger than life and beautiful and idealized place but when we went from the pilot to the series, we also did a few architectural tweaks to make it more visually interesting and to add some more light sources — we added some windows. But I just walk on board and sometimes I feel like it’s a combination between the Starship Enterprise and an actual gymnastics facility. I just love it.
Can you give us a little teaser about the upcoming season — without spoiling too much?
I have many spoilers. But I’ll just spit them all out — I’ll say that there’s going to be some great character interactions, and there are going to be some unexpected twists, and some fun romances. I think part of the fun is keeping the surprise. I’m conflicted too — I’ll go on to [sites] and there’s some movie, and someone will have a scoop on it, and I’m thinking do I really want to know or not?
Yeah, you have to decide, do I click this? I’m going to regret it?
I know, I’m going to regret it!
Sometimes you do it anyway!
Sometimes I can’t help myself! When I do it, I feel like I’ve just eaten a bag of potato chips…
Be sure to tune in on Monday, January 4th at 9 pm on ABC Family for the mid-season premiere of Make It Or Break It!Tweet