The "Step Up" franchise has been very good to producers Erik Feig and Patrick Wachsberger. The first three films have earned over $160 million domestically and $410 million on the global market.


It has also launched the successful directing careers of Anne Fletcher ("Step Up", "The Proposal" and "27 Dresses) and Jon Chu ("Step Up 2: The Streets", "Step Up 3-D", "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation"). Channing Tatum's career got a super-sized boost from his starring role as Tyler in the original "Step Up").


Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman chat about "Step Up Revolution"


The first three films progressed from a "Fame" like first film, to the "Stomp the Yard" like street dance-offs of "Step Up 2 The Streets" and "Step Up 3-D".


With a need to freshen the series Feig and Wachsberger pulled in Scott Speer for his first big screen feature film - his previous experience was with the television series The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers".


The next move was to change venue from dark streets of Baltimore and New York to the sunny, electric Miami scene. Of course, when you change to the Sun and Fun Capital of the World you need talent to reflect the new mood. So Feig and Wachsberger cast Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman in the lead roles of Emily and Sean.


If you are into dance, you will remember McCormick from her stint on the popular Fox show So You Think You Can Dance in 2009 where she won the Top Girl Dancer Award. She is also currently working on a web series called Chasing 8s.


Her leading man, Ryan Guzman, couldn't have come from a more different background. He grew up learning martial arts ultimately landing in the Mixed Martial Arts arena fighting using his experience in tae kwon do. On the side, he earned extra money as a model for the Wilhelmina Agency where he modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch, Affliction and Reebok among others.


A career dancer and a MMA fighter - two people from two totally different backgrounds starring in a film about two people from totally different backgrounds; some how that makes since to me.


"Step Up: Revolution" features flash mob dancing. In case you aren't familiar with it, that's when a group of people assemble suddenly in a place, perform some sort of entertainment, then disperse into the crowd. If you saw the film "Friends With Benefits" Jamie (Mila Kunis) took Dylan (Justin Timberlake) to see a flash mob in New York's Times Square.


To illustrate how a dance flash mob comes off, Kathryn visited Navy Pier on July 15 to promote the film... and show off her nifty dance moves with a Chicago's Boom dance company. Later I sat down with Kathryn and Ryan to chat.


CINEMATREK: I noticed that one of the choreographers from the show [So You Think You Can Dance], Chris Scott, was also one of the choreographers for the film. Had you worked with Scott on the show?


KATHRYN: I never got to work with him,for season seven finale; that was his first time ever being on the show...and he choreographed that. So I got to work with him. After that he started doing duets...


CINEMATREK: So it was mainly Jamal Sims?


RYAN: Yeah, it was him and Draco his assistance - they've done all the "Step Up" movies. What's awesome about them though is the progression in each dancing movie. It's like that last one you thought they done everything, and then this one you can't believe they've topped themselves. "Step Up 5", who knows what they'll do!



CINEMATREK: The main difference in this "Step Up" didn't have the big dance show down, it's more free flowing. So Ryan how much of a change was it for you from your days in MMA?


RYAN: With MMA you train 8 hours a day and you know what your body is capable of doing. With dancing, it's the same aspect - you're just matching it to a beat. The biggest difference is that dancing you have to have a feeling behind it. If you don't have the feeling the dancing suffers and you just look like a dude that's just moving; and anybody could do that. So what I learned from Kathryn, the other dancers and Jamal... they taught me how to speak with my movement. Actually, one of the dancers taught me that when I do a certain move to say a word. Even if it's a curse word or some-

thing like that... anger, sadness... let it out! And as you do that, the dancing takes you to another level.


CINEMATREK: Kathryn, what about you going from the show to the movie?


KATHRYN:The thing about the show was they were always putting you in a situation where you telling a different story. Every single week you were paired person, with different chemistry... and on top of that you have to dig back into your history and your past and try to relate to the story that you are given. I learned a lot! I think it prepared me for acting. I just didn't have my confidence to speak out yet. So it gave me the experience I needed - along with the motivational speaking tour I did before that... gave me the experience to speak out [as an actress].


CINEMATREK: Who helped whom the most?


KATHRYN: Even par. He [Ryan] had never danced before... so I just kind of walked up to him and told him "you got this" - trying to calming the energy. So I guess I'm the one who started it out, but then we started to develop this trust and get to know each other. The were times when it came to acting and I was so intimidated by it and we would just practice together and he would make me feel comfortable.


RYAN: We are both perfectionists, so we wouldn't stop until we hit a certain part that we think we're okay with; and even then we would look for more. But he best part about it was we were so honest with each other. If I didn't do good dancing she would tell me. She knew exactly ... she would just grab me a tell me to calm down. It was awesome to have someone who believed.


CINEMATREK: In the opening number, when the cars were bouncing up and down, were you actually dancing on them?


RYAN: They weren't actually going up and down while we were on them; that would be kind of risky. They had the one part where we were holding onto the car with the front end going up... that was actually happening. But when we were running on top of the cars... they were still. Movie magic!


CINEMATREK: So will there be a Step Up 5?


RYAN: I've heard rumors, but you never know


CINEMATREK: Maybe in an MMA ring?


KATHRYN: Yeah, and it could be like "EMILY CONQUERS ALL!"

Ryan and Kathryn are focused on promoting "Step Up Revolution" filled with more touring. Afterwards, it's back to more auditions and try-outs as they try to meld their new found skills and crafts into careers. For both indeed, this experience was quite a step up!   -- GEOFF BURTON