John Swetnam

Step Up All In

“Your flash mob ain’t nothin’ but a joke!” And thus the gauntlet is thrown down in Step Up All In, the fifth (fifth!) entry into a dance-centric franchise that first got its legs with a relatively low-key romance about a dude from the wrong side of the tracks who woos a pretty gal with the power of his hips, abs, and ability to make baggy sweatpants look sexy. (The first Step Up film, in case you’ve forgotten, showcased the charms of Channing Tatum early in his career – his on-screen paramour, actress Jenna Dewan-Tatum, is now his wife, so yeah, that film worked out pretty well for both of them.) The unlikely series-starter has now spawned four follow-up films, and while each has steadily ratcheted up the intensity, they’ve also upped the entertainment factor to match. This is a series that genuinely keeps getting better and better. (And dancier and dancier.) For all the spectacle of the Step Up films – and there is a lot of spectacle, thanks to continually show-stopping dance sequences and the kind of bad fashion that would only appear in a screen-set musical – the franchise remains weirdly rooted in the real world. Although each Step Up film has always led up to a big, final, major dance battle, the series has never ventured into international waters. There is no fake “world competition” in these films. No one is going to the Olympics. There is no expectation that the entire world is watching. The competitions […]


Into the Storm 06

Into the Storm is uneventfully being dumped into theaters this weekend with a logline I won’t dare try to stretch into a lengthy synopsis. It reads as follows: “Storm trackers, thrill-seekers, and everyday townspeople document an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes touching down in the town of Silverton.” At this point you may be finding yourself a bit perplexed, maybe even infuriated by the idea that out of the 10,000 scripts Warner Bros. likely receives every year, they chose this one to greenlight. But fear not readers, Into the Storm isn’t the unmitigated disaster it appears to be. It’s much worse.


Found footage dance films

In news that sounds as if it was ripped straight out of some kind of Movie Mad Libs, Deadline is reporting that R&B singer John Legend has teamed up with rising screenwriter star John Swetnam to make the world’s first found footage dance film. The film will be titled Breaking Through and is described as “a documentary-style dance drama for the YouTube generation.” In addition to producing the film alongside Legend, Swetnam will also pen the feature and helm it, making it his feature directorial debut. As random as the news may sound, Swetnam’s still-growing resume is actually evidence of his interest in both subgenres – he’s got a pair of found-footage-heavy features in the can (Evidence, which was based on his short of the same name, along with the natural disaster found footage feature Into the Storm, which arrives in August) and a dance film with a beloved pedigree on the way (he wrote the fifth Step Up film, Step Up: All In, which will hit theaters in July). If anyone can make a found footage dance film, Swetnam sure sounds like the right guy, and he’s certainly got the heat on his name to make it happen. Also? It’s high time that found footage expanded out into other subgenres, and this new one (call it found FOOTage and then pretend I never said that) is just the next step in popcorn cinema progression.



Not content with just one wildly entertaining and highly improbable dance-based franchise, Lionsgate/Summit has picked up a spec script by their Step Up 5 scribe, John Swetnam, that centers on “the world of electronic dance music.” Deadline also reports that Step Up 5 (and, lest we forget, the glorious Step Up Revolution) director Scott Speer will helm the film, titled Spinback. An already-set Speer/Swetnam reunion is surprising, but seems to point to the studio potentially being pleased with SU5, which is wonderful news for anyone into popping, locking, and total insanity. Spinback is touted as a murder mystery that also includes a “returning soldier” storyline. Drama! Deadline reports that the film’s basic idea, which was cooked up by producer Todd Garner, is as such: a “soldier returns from Afghanistan. When his brother, a prominent DJ on the EDM circuit, is murdered, he must infiltrate that world in order to figure out the killer. The project aspires to have a fast-paced niche subculture vibe reminiscent of The Fast and the Furious and XXX.” Sold. Speer is also particuarly dedicated to the film, as he made “a mock trailer for the movie, featuring EDM footage and footage from other movies which cut together established the tone they are after” with Spinback. Anyone in possession of said trailer is encouraged to send it over our way. Everybody dance now.


Step Up

Because there is not an original idea left in Hollywood and also because Summit’s Step Up franchise has, over seven years and four films, morphed into one of the most dazzlingly insane and entertaining properties to pop and lock across our collective movie screens in decades, we’re getting a fifth Step Up film. I hesitate to use this word, but – duh. Deadline Hollywood reports that the studio has picked rising screenwriter star John Swetnam to write the fifth installment of the franchise, proving that Swetnam’s apparent niche of penning found-footage thrillers doesn’t preclude him from writing a film about teen dancing. O-kay. Swetnam has previously written 2012’s Evidence, a film that no one saw but that apparently centered on a detective using found footage to solve a grisly gas station-set massacre, and the upcoming Black Sky, that found-footage tornado film once known as Category 6. Yes, he should most definitely write a Step Up film now.

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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