Miami makes appearances on the big (and little) screen all the time: Real Housewives, Miami Monkey and Bad Girls Club ring a bell? Sadly, most of the above serve to perpetuate tired South Beach stereotypes. This, in turn, leads to more tourists expecting nothing but Brazilian bikinis, daiquiris and house music when they come calling.
But if the REEL Miami Project has anything to say about it, potential tourists will start seeing the city in a whole new light. Their six-series set of videos will showcase Miami Beach, Wynwood, Downtown, South Beach, Coral Gables and the Everglades for global travelers. But these aren't your average promotional videos.
The six films are the real deal. Directed by and starring local Miami talent, each film will show its audience a unique take on each neighborhood through a weekend adventure. There will be plots, action, and actual acting.
Frank Kelly is the man behind the project, and he hand-picked the participants, including
Carlos Gutierrez, a Miami native and award-winning commercial and film director. He's the dude directing the Miami Beach flick. In addition to earning nods at film festivals, his stuff has graced HBO and Showtime, and he's a grad of the NYU Master's Film Program.
"What drew me to the project is that really intense feeling that you want to show people a different side of Miami that other people don't see -- i.e. tourists or just people that visit you," Gutierrez says. "When I have friends visit from New York the first question is always, 'Hey so are we gonna go to South Beach? The Clevelander?' and I'm like, 'No man.'"
The Miami Beach flick is 14 minutes long and revolves around a couple. It's got a sexy thriller feel about it, a la Thomas Crowne Affair, says Gutierrez. There's romance, tension and risk-taking.
Here's a sneak peek:
The film stars Eric Aragon as Mason and Elisabetta Fantone as Kassandra. The couple checks into the SLS Hotel, only to discover that Mason has the wrong suitcase. Then the action ensues.
"In the end it's all about fun. It has that fun quality like the Oceans 11 films have -- a little bit of tension and suspense but it's all done almost with a wink."
The first flick premieres in early November, and the others will soon follow. Fro Rojas, another award-winning director, will be helming the Wynwood film, starring Liz Twining and Melvin Lima.
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The interactive, travel-focused website will be launching in the near future, but in the meantime they've got a teaser up.
"There's a really intense film community here that's a living breathing thing," Gutierrez adds. "There's a lot of really talented cast and crew, and this project is a micro-cosmic way to demonstrate that to people everywhere."
Bring on the storytelling, 'cuz Miami could sure as hell use a few more tourists who know we've got more going for us than babes in bikinis.