'East Side Story' shoots all night in the streets at Pier Park

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 05:09 PM.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — The assistant director announced over loud speakers that dancers and extras should take positions, and people came pouring out of shops, trailers, a tent and bundles of blankets. They stripped off sweat pants and sweaters, long coats, wool caps and leg warmers, and gathered in a shivering mass at the end of the block dressed only in dancewear, skirts or shorts, and sleeveless tops.

 It was cold Sunday night as the clock reached midnight and ticked over into Monday morning, and about 175 people prepared to dance in the street at Pier Park — for the third time in a night-long shoot. The four-minute sequence was shot from multiple angles over multiple takes to ensure plenty of choices once the film enters the editing phase.

>>Link to video of a behind the scenes interview on location

The salsa number will be a highlight of “East Side Story,” the independent film being shot in Panama City Beach this month, according to director and writer David Winters. But it’s only one of the experiences he has had during his visit here that has him enamored with the area.

“It’s just been terrific,” he said as he hunkered down near a gas heater to view video monitors feeding the camera’s images to him. “All the merchants here kept their lights on for us. We’re just really excited about the place.”

Saturday, the crew shot scenes in the Pussycat Lounge at Club La Vela. And about a week before, some 800 extras turned out for a sequence filmed at Arnold High School. A number of locals have jobs on the set, from hair and makeup to production assistants to on-screen talent.

Many scenes have taken place at the Shores of Panama Resort, which also is where some of the crew is staying. Regarding the resort, Winters grinned when he related a story that illustrated how cooperative locals have been.

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