The mood was electric as stars and crew packed the lobby of the Burbank AMC 8 Wednesday night for the premiere of “School Dance”, directed by actor/producer Nick Cannon.
Erik C. Andersen, of Burbank, was film editor on the project and coordinated a screening for friends and family, but when the actors found out about it, they were down for the party too.
A teenage comedy written by Cannon and Nile Evans, the story is about Jason, a high school youth with a major crush on classmate Anastacia who doesn’t know he’s alive. He thinks she might notice him if he can land a spot on the school’s hottest dance crew. All that’s standing in his way are his dominating mother, Anastacia’s gangsta brother and the crew’s initiation.
The film is based on Cannon’s personal experiences, Andersen said. He pulled together some of the best comedians — like George Lopez — for the film, but he also discovered a lot of young, up-and-coming talent –like the Rangers, an L.A.-based hip hop group. They play themselves in the film.
“To be able to play in that world with [Cannon] in the cutting room and help him shape the film is such an honor and it was really great working with him,” Andersen said.
A 1985 Burroughs grad, Andersen has been editing films since 1987 and credits include “Bring It On”, “Killer Pad” and “House Broken” with Danny DeVito.
Andersen has always known since college that film editing is just as important as directing, he said.
“Editing is called the third step or the final writing of the film, so it’s been something that I have always enjoyed for all these years,” he said.
When choosing a script to work on, it has to speak to him, he added. When he read Cannon’s script, it was one of the best he read that year, and he was motivated to do the cutting.
“I was just lucky Nick picked me to be his editor and funny is funny, you watch the film and if you laugh at the dailies, you put it in the movie. And there were times that I relied on him to tell me because there was some slang and younger generation stuff being talked about and I would ask Nick ‘what does this mean?'”
He works with a lot of people during the editing process — producers, the studio– a lot of people influencing the final cut, but at least Andersen gets the first crack at it, he said.
“There are sequences in this movie that haven’t changed, so I’m very proud of that, that Nick liked the movie the way it was and he never changed it.”
Bobb’e J. Thompson, who stars in the film, came out to the Burbank premiere.
“I’m excited!” he said. “It was a great project and I’m glad everybody else will get a chance to see it. We all put a lot into it.”
Actress and writer Luenell play Jason’s mother in the film. She was layering her popcorn with butter and garlic salt from a shaker she brought from home.
“Working with all the comedic talent,” made it fun for her, said the stand-up comedian, who added that working with Andersen was “loose, fun, loving, great and happy.”
It was nothing but good vibes and positive energy on set during filming, said Langston Higgins of The Rangers.
Julian Alexander, another member of The Rangers, has wanted to be in the movies since he was a child, he said.
“It was like a dream come true to be on set with everybody — crazy — all these people I have watched on TV and movies, it was great!” he said.
“It was a good learning experience, a good opportunity and I enjoyed it,” said Dashawn “Day Day” Omarr, also of The Rangers.
Nile Evans, who co-wrote the project with Cannon, called the film a fun ride.
“It’s a coming-of-age story and I just hope that everybody has a good time with it,” he said. “We have a lot of cameo appearances — Nick called in every favor he could. It’s a fun movie. I think people will enjoy the fun of it all.”