Pitch Perfect: Is the 2012 Movie Based on Real Life?

‘Pitch Perfect’ is a 2012 musical comedy film that centers around the Barden Bellas, an all-girl a cappella group at Barden University. They dream of winning the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) against their rivals, the Trebelmakers, an all-boys group on the same campus. However, with a significant loss from the last competition already hanging heavy over their heads and all the senior, more experienced members graduating from the group, it is up to a new batch of Bellas to take on this daunting task and ensure the legacy of the Barden Bellas.

But winning a group competition requires group effort, and with the rebellious newcomer and aspiring DJ Becca Mitchell challenging the playlist, things might be more volatile for the Bellas than ever. Directed by Jason Moore, the film features the ensemble cast of Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, and Adam DeVine. A musical extravaganza, ‘Pitch Perfect’ introduces the audience to the world of competitive a cappella. But what are the origins of such an interesting story — does it depict true events, or is it the product of a wonderfully imaginative mind? Worry not, for we have the answers for you!

Pitch Perfect: Inspired by Real A Cappella

No, ‘Pitch Perfect’ is not based on a true story. However, it is loosely based on the book ‘Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Capella Glory’ by journalist Mickey Rapkin. It also draws inspiration from director Jason Moore’s own experiences at his alma mater, Northwestern University, Illinois, which is famous for its a cappella groups. The university boasts a total of 14 groups which vary in both style, intensity, and intent — some engage in the performing art for fun, and others for a chance to compete in the ICCA.

Rapkin’s book, which is a non-fiction title, gives a behind-the-scenes look to the readers and follows the lifestyles and rivalries between three a cappella groups that only tend to hit the wrong note when they meet — the Beelzebubs of Tufts University that were founded more than five decades ago in 1962; Divisi of the University of Oregon, an all-female group attempting to overcome a loss; and the Hullabahoos of the University of Virginia, who act as the so-called bad boys of collegiate a cappella.

A musical through and through, all the songs have been performed by the cast themselves, many of whom have a background in music. Skylar Astin, for example, who portrays Jesse Swanson in ‘Pitch Perfect,’ was also a part of Fox’s ‘Glee,’ the hit musical television series. A musical “boot camp” was also set up to get the cast’s vocal cords and dance steps into shape for the film.

“When we were casting the movie, I knew that I wanted the actors to all do their own singing,” director Jason Moore explained in an interview with Cinema Review. “The story is about everyone bringing their own special voice, the way that they sound and the way they perform into the movie, so I needed genuine performances. What’s interesting about this genre is that there are no drums and there’s no piano to cover up the mistakes, so everybody has to be able to carry the musical tune and do what it takes to make the overall sound work.”

Music arranger and music director Ed Boyer and music director Deke Sharon, who is also one of the founders of the ICCA, were brought in to help create the musical performances for ‘Pitch Perfect,’ as well as run the boot camp. In an interview with PopSugar, actress Brittany Snow (Chloe Beale in the film) revealed that the boot camp lasted about a month. It saw the entire cast going through singing and dance rehearsals for ten hours each day to prepare them for their roles and to get them used to performing as a group.

But while the music is terrific, one shouldn’t forget that the movie is also a well-written comedy. And what makes it a success is the wide variety of characters that occupy the screen almost all simultaneously and the actors portraying them. Speaking about the different characters in an interview with Screen Team Media, Anna Kendrick said, “…Kay Cannon, our writer, does this beautiful thing of kind of setting up the stereotypes like the weird girl and the popular girl, and the uptight girl, and you know, um, the various social outcasts…but then she kind of turns them on their heads, you know.”

“…I remember reading it and thinking like, ‘Okay, I understand how this is going to work, I understand who this person’s going to be,’ and, um, she [Kay Cannon] always kind of found a way to really surprise me…,” continued the actress. With such attention to detail, it is no wonder that the music in ‘Pitch Perfect’ stays with the viewers long after the film ends. Though not a true story, it does not fail to capture the audience’s hearts. Much like an underdog team in a sports biography, the film makes you root for the Barden Bellas as they strive to become champions on a unique and fun battlefield!

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