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'The Breakfast Club' remade at Clackamas High School

UPDATE: Students release preview of their film -


With the movie’s enduring nostalgia, it’s surprising that a remake of “The Breakfast Club” hadn’t already been made.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: HOPE ALEXANDER - Despite the freezing temperatures, Katharine Yates (from left) Ryan Coyle and Hope Alexander filmed the ending scene of their version of 'The Breakfast Club' at Clackamas High School.Entertainment Weekly named John Hughes’ 1985 classic the best high school movie of all time, and its iconic portrayal of reconciliation among representatives of five different cliques pushed Simple Minds’ theme song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” to No. 1 on the charts. Originally starring Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald, it launched the careers of this entire “Brat Pack.”

by: PHOTO COURTESY: HOPE ALEXANDER - From left, Ryan Coyle, Sierra Amanda Bish, Heron Bratschi, Calen Coates and Katharine Yates star in a North Clackamas School District version of 'The Breakfast Club' coming Jan. 31.Rumors of a remake have circulated for years, naming various Hollywood stars as candidates. But, against all odds, it took a dedicated group of North Clackamas students to make it happen.

Clackamas High School junior Hope Alexander, the remake’s director and executive producer, put her team through a brutal filming schedule on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for two and a half months this school year.

“It was pretty crazy to take on a project with 10 people that would be done with hundreds of crew members in Hollywood,” Alexander said. “There were times when we were behind schedule and everyone was freaking out, but we had to keep our composure and get the filming done.”

Sabin-Shellenberg Professional Technical Center teacher Deborah Barnes surprised everyone by announcing in September that Alexander would lead the project normally reserved for seniors. Alexander and most of her classmates hadn’t even seen the film that had premiered more than a decade before their births. Usually students in Barnes’ broadcasting and social media class make a five-to-10-minute video, but this 90-minute shot-for-shot refilming of a Hollywood classic is unprecedented. Their end product, on a negligible budget, would exceed the expectations of Oregon’s largest high school technical center, let alone most Hollywood producers.

“Hope is one of the most talented, gifted, charming, bright young women I have interested in a career in film,” Barnes said. “She is the perfect person for this, and I am incredibly proud of her and the work ethic and professionalism of the cast and crew.”

Watch the preview:

Their own ‘Breakfast Club’

Once named director, Alexander immediately got her team watching the original regularly, writing a script, storyboarding and working out technical details. They had no time to go over lines during their tight filming schedule, so the cast would come over to Alexander’s house for extra rehearsals in the evening. Cast and crew members heavily used the Alexander family’s dining table for meals at all hours.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: HOPE ALEXANDER - Before filming their remake of 'The Breakfast Club,' this is usually how the cast and crew look at 7 a.m. Clockwise from right, Katie Yate Ryan Coyle, Heron Bratschi, Sierra Amanda Bish, Jacob Linn, Tony Calambrogio, Haley Bricker, Hope Alexander and Calen Coates. (Not pictured: tech crew members Travis Whittaker, Guyanna Sundeen.)“It was like our own Breakfast Club that we made within the filming, and we’re all going to remember our individual personalities and how we ended up meshing,” Alexander said.

All five of her remake’s main characters start out as stereotypes, as in the original. Co-director and senior Katie Yates plays Ringwald’s “princess” character Claire Standish, although Yates isn’t ditsy in real life. More obvious casting choices for Alexander were Rex Putnam High School senior Ryan Coyle as Nelson’s “criminal” character John Bender, CHS junior Sierra Amanda Bish as Sheedy’s “basket case” Allison Reynolds and CHS senior Heron Bratschi as Estevez’s “athlete” Andrew Clark.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: HOPE ALEXANDER - Sabin-Shellenberg Professional Technical Center teacher Deborah Barnes put the finishing touches on Ryan Coyle for his portrayal of 'The Breakfast Club' character John Bender.Her most difficult casting choice was trying to replicate Hall’s masterful portrayal of the film’s “brain” character, Brian Johnson. She ended up going with CHS junior Calen Coates, who had the slight stature for the part and who was able to make his normally deep voice crack frequently while performing his dialogue. Bender has to comment on the voice cracking, so Coates’ character is occasionally called “Pubert” in this remake.

Such dialogue adjustments are the most noticeable change from the original to the remake. During a scene when she had to freak out near the end of the film, Yates initially wanted to play an exact copy of Ringwald’s performance.

“You have to make it your own; otherwise it’s not going to be believable,” Alexander would tell her film’s actors. To explain introducing the word “weird” to the script, she said, “I don’t know any teenagers now who say the word ‘bizarre’ on a regular basis.”

‘Back to the roots’

Barnes, whose favorite movie of all time is “The Breakfast Club,” encouraged her class to see the film’s timelessness, and otherwise mostly stood back and “got goosebumps” watching them work.

“We can see ourselves in parts of every character while in high school. We find ourselves wondering if we are just a label when we are a teen,” Barnes said. “This movie gives hope to those who dream of being somebody special.”

by: PHOTO COURTESY: HOPE ALEXANDER - In this remake, Jim Dail, Clackamas High School junior Hope Alexander's mom's boyfriend, plays disciplinarian Mr. Richard Vernon, the main adult role in 'The Breakfast Club.'Hollywood has had a long dry spell of any teen movie that’s been a cultural touchstone on the level of “The Breakfast Club.” Memorable teen comedies in subsequent years such as “Bring It On” or “Clueless” have given way to special-effect-heavy fantasy series like “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” to attract young moviegoers.

“We don’t have any movie now that influences young people day-to-day and how we think about the world,” Alexander said. “Unless they’re entwined with some werewolves or some vampires, audiences has been sold on all the add-ons, so it’s great to get this experience that takes us back to the roots of what it means to be a filmmaker.”

Alexander has visited California State University, San Bernardino in Southern California, and is now looking at other film-school options in New York. Contrary to typical practice, Coyle and Coates helped Alexander edit the film, even though they were also acting in it. Alexander made the final decision on which takes to pick.

“I’ve got to make sure that they’re not picking shots just because they think they look better than everyone else,” she said.

Alexander credited the student crew’s parents with being more than just supportive of their efforts. Jim Dail, Alexander’s mom’s boyfriend, played disciplinarian Mr. Richard Vernon, the film’s main adult role. Paul Gleason’s original performance of Vernon earned the actor the honor of being typecast in nearly every one of his subsequent movies.

Both Barnes and Alexander were “eternally grateful” to CHS for going to great lengths to assist in providing most of the locations for shooting the film. Windows were a huge issue especially for the library scenes there because they had to make sure that the weather looked the same for all the shots.

Other technical notes: They thought about using a fake cigarette for the marijuana-smoking scene, but they ended up using a fog machine and some post-production trickery. For the scene where Bender has a knife, they used a fake knife that could be used in a school. For Bender’s explosion, they filmed a really dirty locker where it looks like a bomb might have gone off.

Classic reborn

What: Sabin-Shellenberg Professional Technical Center Broadcasting and Social Media present a free screening of their remake of “The Breakfast Club.”

When: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31

Where: Clackamas High School theater auditorium, 14486 S.E. 122nd Ave.




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