Chatty Gymnast caught up with former UCLA team member and recently turned stunt double, Ariana Berlin, as she prepares for the release of her biopic film, Full Out: The Ariana Berlin Movie. If you’re not aware with Ariana’s story, here it is; Berlin was an elite-level gymnast until 2001, when she and her mother, Susan, were involved in a car accident. Berlin was severly injured and was told that she would never do gymnastics again. After dabbling in street dance, becoming a member of Culture Shock, she then started to perform at SeaWorld San Diego where she met resident summer choreographer and UCLA Head coach, Valorie Kondos Field. Kondos Field admired her determination and philosophy on life and soon offered Berlin a walk-on spot for the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team. After a standout freshman year, in 2006, she was offered a full-ride scholarship and soon became one of the most successful UCLA Bruins gymnasts in history!
She answers some questions we had for her on the release of her film and how her accident has changed her perspective on life, in general.
CG: How do you feel doing gymnastics as a UCLA Bruin helped shape you as a person?
AB: Being a gymnast at UCLA has molded me into the person I am today in many ways. It taught me that if you really want something, it will require blood, sweat and tears, but it is always worth it. I’ve learned so much about myself, what makes me tick, how to overcome adversity, how to deal with others in a variety of situations, and how to be a part of something greater than myself. Being a student-athlete is not easy, but it provides tools that you will use for the rest of your life.
CG: How has your outlook on life differed since your accident?
AB: I live each day to the absolute fullest; there are no promises for tomorrow. It helps me put things into perspective when I’m having a bad day and things just aren’t going my way. I refer back to the accident and know, if I got through that, I can get through anything.
CG: Talking about the film, what can we expect from it?
AB: You can expect an extremely fun, energetic and uplifting inspirational comeback story that is relatable to anyone who has gone through adversity.
CG: Was it emotional for you to watch the filming and to see it all come together?
AB: It was extremely emotional. I was onset during the entire month of filming and watching the story come to life was surreal. The most emotional part was when my family visited set. They were the ones that lived through the accident with my Mom and I and now, almost 14 years later we were reliving that moment in time through the filming process. Also, at the screening in San Diego, all of my closest friends and family who supported me throughout the accident and recovery were there supporting the film. That was very emotional.
CG: You did all your own stunts, right. How hard was it to get back into shape and get your skills back?
AB: It was very difficult getting back into shape. Thankfully I had our assistant UCLA Gymnastics coach, Randy Lane help me with the process. I trained with him about 3 days a week for a little over month before we began filming. I was sore for weeks!!! After the soreness dissipated, the skills came back fairly easily. It’s all muscle memory.
CG: Was it hard to find the cast? How did you go about the process?
AB: Our Executive Producer, Jeff Deverett worked with a casting director in Toronto to find all of the talent. I wasn’t able to attend the auditions, but Jeff sent me videos of the acting and dance auditions. I wasn’t involved too much in the process, but I think they did an excellent job at casting each role.
CG: The majority of filming was shot in Canada, if I am correct. How come you didn’t stay local and film in LA?
AB: The main reason we shot in Canada was because our Executive Producer and Director are Canadian and we received great tax benefits.
CG: Will the film ever be theatrically released? Have you been to any film festivals?
AB: We are in the distribution process right now. We do have hopes for a theatrical release, but I do not know the specifics just yet.
CG: Describe, in three words, Full Out: The Ariana Berlin Movie!
AB: Never Give Up (that sounds so corny, but it is the essence of Full Out)
CG: What would your message be to anyone in a similar position to what you were in?
AB: My message is; ‘Life is not always a fairytale story with a fairytale ending. There are bound to be challenges, but it’s how you choose to handle life’s challenges that defines who you are’.
Ariana’s story is the epitome of determination and hardwork and the film is going to be beautiful! It will capture the essence of what it means to be a gymnast and what it means to overcome anything and follow your dreams. And as is depicted in the movie, ‘sometimes you have to fall before you can fly’.
You can watch the trailer below;
An article by James Greaves, editor-in-chief