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Keepin' It Real
"Texture was the first thing that popped out in my mind,” says production designer Jasna Stefanovich. "Each movie I do requires research. I know a little bit about hip-hop, but I didn't know enough. I bought all the hip-hop magazines. Then we went to New York and cruised hiphop music stores. I grabbed a lot of hip-hop tapes that were produced independently and then researched the hell out of it.” 

While the film was shot in Toronto, Stefanovich used the streets of New York's Lower East Side and the Bronx as references. She wanted the urban scenes of Honey's day-to-day life (the club where she works, on the street and the youth center where she teaches) to be in sharp contrast to the music video world in which she now finds herself. 

Stefanovich observes, "Honey's world is a world where dancers sweat and you see the sweat. They're not like video dancers, where everybody looks fresh and made-up. There's garbage on the street. It's a place where some windows are washed and some unwashed. That's the real-life texture I wanted.” 

Filmmakers and the designer were emphatic about visually representing the passion of the dance, specifically the teenage passion of hip-hop, and differentiating that from the dancefor- hire world of video production. Honey's world is shown full of color and texture, and the video world is represented with a crisper, cleaner palette. 

Six music videos were shot for the film, two of them on very large sets. "When you're drawing a concept for a music video set, you need feedback, otherwise you're working in a vacuum,” says Stefanovich. "The great thing with Honey is that Bille comes from a music video background, so he's very comfortable in that environment. Because he wasn't intimidated, his encouragement made it seem effortless.” 

In the first music video in the film, Stefanovich created a large geometric plexiglas shape in white with lights on all sides. "I wanted the set to be really minimalist so that it showed off the dancers,” explains Stefanovich. "I didn't want to use much color because I wanted the skin to look great, and one of the most flattering ways to do that is to use white and light.” 

One of the more challenging sets was the one for the music video shoot for the performer Tweet. "Several dancers were attached to wire cables that allow them to fly in and out of the set. You couldn't have walls, so I put all the focus on the floor,” says Stefanovich. "When you're looking at it from above, the entire floor lights up and the lights go in every direction as the dancers fly through the air—and then Tweet is lowered from the ceiling. It's all about the floor.”

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