Based on a true story, Netflix’s ‘Rustin’ is a biographical historical drama movie that chronicles the life of a civil rights activist named Bayard Rustin, who is determined to bring some necessary and positive changes to the system. Whilst on the mission for change, he faces various bouts of racism and homophobia from people around him. Despite being on the receiving end of such challenges, he played a significant role in orchestrating the revolutionary 1963 March on Washington., alongside Martin Luther King Jr.
Putting a spotlight on the extraordinary man and his life, the George C. Wolfe directorial showcases how he challenged authority and was unapologetic for who he was, his beliefs, and his desires. Since much of the story unfolds in Washington, DC, the viewers are likely to be curious to know if ‘Rustin’ was filmed on location or not.
Rustin Filming Locations
‘Rustin’ was filmed in Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and seemingly in Ohio, especially in Greater Pittsburgh. Principal photography for the biopic seemingly got underway in late October 2021 and after an intense shooting schedule of about 10 months, it got wrapped up in August 2022.
Greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A majority of the important scenes for ‘Rustin’ were lensed in Greater Pittsburgh, a metropolitan area centered around the eponymous city located in the western area of Pennsylvania. Throughout the production process, the filming unit traveled around the area and set up camp in different streets and neighborhoods, including Craig Street at Fifth Avenue in Oakland and Ross and Smithfield Streets in downtown Pittsburgh.
— Pittsburgh Regional Transit (@PGHtransit) October 25, 2021
Several key scenes for the Colman Domingo starrer were taped in numerous sites across Pittsburgh, including on Sixth Avenue in the downtown area near the Duquesne Club with Trinity Cathedral in the backdrop, the North Side neighborhood of Manchester, James Laughlin Music Hall at Chatham University at 5798 Woodland Road, Lower Panther Hollow Trail at Schenley Park, and the streets of South Side. A phone booth scene in the movie also features the Frick Building in Downtown Pittsburgh in the backdrop.
Many portions of ‘Rustin’ were shot on sets inside soundstages in the northern suburb of Warrendale, where they even constructed the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for some important sequences. In a phone interview in October 2023 with TV Talk, the filmmaker, George C. Wolfe, said, “We recreated the steps because there were very, very specific rules and lengths of time that we could shoot there (in D.C.). So the speeches and the confrontations that (Rustin) had with the protectors of D.C. were filmed in Pittsburgh.” In addition, the cast and crew members also took the production to the borough of Wilkinsburg in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County.
Washington, District of Columbia
A significant portion of ‘Rustin’ was also recorded on location in Washington, DC, the capital city and federal district of the nation. The March scenes were largely shot in Washington, around the Lincoln Memorial at 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir Northwest. In a late September 2023 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wolfe talked about his favorite moments while shooting the March on Washington. He said, “When the trucks finally show up and they’re unloading, there’s this moment where Bayard is descending the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And the music that is playing, which has been crafted by Branford (Marsalis), it has this symphonic sound.”
Wolfe elaborated further, “And then as he’s descending the steps, you hear the little piano, and it’s as if the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are the white keys of the piano and Bayard was playing them, and it’s just a fulfillment of his arrival there.” In August 2022, the cast and crew were also spotted lensing some scenes on North Carolina Avenue between 6th Street and 8th Street Southeast, and around the DINER at 2453 18th Street Northwest.
Reports suggest that the shooting of ‘Rustin’ was seemingly carried out in Ohio as well. Located in the Midwest, it is also known as the Buckeye State due to the presence of Ohio buckeye trees within the state, which is something you might be able to spot in the backdrop of a few scenes. Besides ‘Rustin,’ its locales have been featured in many movies over the years, including ‘Judas and the Black Messiah,’ ‘Antwone Fisher,’ ‘My Friend Dahmer,’ and ‘Cleveland Abduction.’
Read More: Is Rustin Based on a True Story?