Aca-Awesome Advice from ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ for Every Filmmaker

If you call yourself a filmmaker when you watch popular movies, independent features, or dramatic tv shows the one thing you should be doing is looking for what you can learn from every single one. The Pitch Perfect franchise is no exception.

I have to be honest, a friend of mine dragged me to go see the third installment. I had no desire to see it because I was disappointed with the second – they went overboard on the crass jokes to the point where I cringed in my seat the whole time and they weren’t even funny.

But from the opening scene of Pitch Perfect 3, which is full of aca-awesome song mashups, intriguing circumstances, and explosions I knew I had to give it a chance. And I’m glad I did.

When people ask me what I thought I tell them, “Go see it. They (the creatives behind it) learned their lesson. They took everything bad about the second one and got rid of it, and took all the good things from the original and made it better.”

And this is where I think there’s some aca-awesome advice for every filmmaker out there.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. I don’t know many people who actually liked Pitch Perfect 2. It made heaps of money, according to IMDb the cumulative gross worldwide is $287,506,194, with an estimated budget of $29,000,000. But still the story wasn’t great. Honestly, I think the filmmakers got a bit drunk on the success of the first and knew they had more money to play with, so they just went crazy. I call this the George Lucas Effect.

Especially with reviews on Rotten Tomatoes like this:

“It actually is difficult to write a review of Pitch Perfect 2. First you have to think up and reject a bunch of adjectives and nouns to pair with “a ca,” as in, “It’s a ca-lousy” …”
– David Edelstein New York Magazine/Vulture

They learned their lesson, and instead of trying to defend something sub-par, I get the sense they wanted to figure out what was wrong and fix it. I can almost see their minds at work to undo the wrong and make it right. Where Pitch Perfect 2 was “a ca-lousy”, Pitch Perfect 3 was aca-awesome with well-timed jokes and songs.

LEARN FROM WHAT YOU DO RIGHT. Unlike it’s sequel, Pitch Perfect was phenomenal. I don’t think a lot of people expected it to be such an incredible hit. The estimated budget was a minuscule $17,000,000, compared to other blockbusters of 2012. People fell in love with the Bellas and their underdog story.

The brilliance of what screenwriter Kay Cannon began with Pitch Perfect was perfectly book-ended with Pitch Perfect 3. The original story was brought back in, but on a new playing field. The Bellas are out of their league and have forgotten how to function as individuals. It’s the opposite of the first, where the Bellas are out of their league and don’t know how to function together.

They took what they did right – what the audience connected with – and made it better by flipping it on it’s head.

I enjoyed Pitch Perfect 3. Enough, that I’d go see it again while it’s still playing in cinema. With almost triple the budget of the first, at an estimated $45,000,000, they used their funding wisely this time.
It was full of the funny-quirky we’ve become used to from the Bellas, placed in a cool story full of drama, explosions, and individual conclusions which make the viewer feel like the story of the Barden Bellas is complete.

The opening scene takes place on a yacht where the Bellas are singing for three men, but it’s clear no one is enjoying themselves. Besides the fact Fat Amy isn’t there, something’s fishy (pun not intended). There’s a crash and like some spy movie Fat Amy drops through a glass ceiling, spraying a fire extinguisher at the men and screaming at the top of her lungs. The Bellas scatter, until Becca realises Amy’s still spraying. She runs back for her and the two jump overboard just in time as the boat behind them explodes.

This isn’t what you expect of an acapella movie. Which is why the filmmaking community, especially all the writers out there, should go and see it; learn from the good and the bad of what the creatives behind the film franchise did and make your own movies better because of it.


  • Charis Joy Jackson

    Producer, Director, Writer, Actress

    Charis Joy Jackson is a writer, director, producer and teacher working with The Initiative Production Company. During the day she makes movies and in her spare time writes short stories and novel. She's a self-proclaimed nerd who wishes she could live in Hobbiton. You can follow her on Instagram @charisjoyjackson


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