A Blair Witch–Style Dance Movie?

April 17, 2014

Here’s some unexpected news: Screenwriter John Swetnam—the writer behind the fifth Step Up installment, Step Up: All In—is joining forces with none other than singer John Legend to create a new dance movie, Breaking Through. As unusual as that pairing seems, there’s an even more unusual twist: Breaking Through is being called the world’s first “found footage” dance film.

Right: John Swetnam. Photo via Mad Horse Films.


The faux-documentary found footage style is more commonly used in horror films—The Blair Witch Project pioneered the genre back in 1999—because the shaky, bleary quality of its supposedly amateur cinematography doubles the shock value of terrifying discoveries. But in a way it makes good sense to use it to capture dance. The majority of the dance films swirling around on YouTube are shot on phones and tablets; it’s the way many dancers are used to watching dance. And there’s an intimacy to the format that might bring dance and dancers to life in a way that high-gloss Hollywood dance films don’t.


In addition to his Step Up experience, Swetnam has also worked on a couple of found-footage-driven films (Evidence and the upcoming Into the Storm). So if there’s any man for this job, he’s it. No word yet on Breaking Through‘s release date, but stay tuned!