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Filmed entirely in the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, ‘Step Up Revolution’ takes full advantage of South Florida’s unique and visually arresting locations, from the ultra‐modern skyline and iconic palm trees to the gritty, colorful ethnic neighborhoods and serene beaches.
“Setting the movie in Miami was one of the first choices we made,” says Matt Smith. “It’s an American city, but a really sexy city with a long‐established dance culture. It was the perfect locale.” The area’s instantly recognizable backdrops telegraph glamour, youth and the contrasts at the heart of the film’s story.
“’Step Up Revolution’ is a love story set among the haves and have‐nots of Miami,” producer Jennifer Gibgot says. “Miami has an extremely wealthy population, as well as some of the most fabulous luxury hotels in the world. It’s an aspirational American city, a place where people experience wealth and glamour and excitement. In the movie, we see the contrast in the lives of the people who stay in those hotels and the people who actually live in Miami and serve them.”
Miami’s balmy climate and outdoor culture lend themselves to the wide‐open vistas that the producers envisioned for their flash‐mob settings. “We tried to incorporate as much of Miami as we could,” says Smith. “We built big, big sets and put lots of people on them. Whether it’s in the business plaza or on top of the containers or on Ocean Drive, we expanded the world of this movie in ways we never have before.”
Production Designer Carlos A. Menéndez is a Miami native who knows and loves his hometown, and enjoyed showing it off in ‘Step Up Revolution’. “Miami is a magical city,” he says. “Geographically it’s stunning. It’s surrounded by water. There’s an interesting mass‐transit system and bridges. The Port of Miami hosts containers from all over the world as well as the cruise liners that come and go. And you’ll never see skies like this anywhere else. The cloud formations are spectacular.”
It also has a uniquely Latin flavor, according to Menéndez. “There’s a tremendous Cuban influence in Miami, obviously. But there is also influence from the rest of the Caribbean and South America. It’s a huge melting pot for all these cultures with a tremendous local music scene. There’s great music and great dancing on any given night.” In no place is that more apparent than on the set for Ricky’s Club Habanero, the old school Miami club that Sean and Eddy have been going to since they were children.
“This is not the kind of place you’d find out on Ocean Drive,” says Smith. “It has a sense of culture, and history. This is where these kids grew up and developed their eclectic musical taste. It’s the kind of place filled with families, old men playing dominos, guys playing various instruments there at night. It’s not South Beach, it’s Old Miami.”
Menéndez infused the set with some of the city’s signature color and variety. “The walls are lined with photos and we’ve layered textures and color throughout. There is even a fivelayer diorama of Havana on the back bar.” The fictional Miami Museum of International Art and Culture was created on a soundstage for the ambitious, multi‐layered dance piece that first sparks Emily’s interest in The Mob.
“The stage was pretty amazing,” says Smith. “We had a giant glowing jellyfish that descends into the middle of the museum. As it lifts its tail, you see the tutus of our electric ballerinas rising up. We have living sculptures, people who emerge from paintings, and all kinds of surprising artistic set pieces.”
And in anticipation of shooting the finale, Menéndez fabricated a scale model of the shipping yard so that he, director Scott Speer, choreographer Jamal Sims and cinematographer Karsten “Crash” Gopinath could coordinate the scene before ever setting foot on set. “It was difficult pulling together all the different disciplines—choreography, cinematography, direction, stunts, parkour,” says Menéndez. “I gave Jamal Sims tape dots so he could show us on the model where the dancers were going to be. He put them pretty much everyplace!”