TREASURE ISLAND — When Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh needed to find a town where a soon-to-be male stripper could come of age, the choice was clear: Sunset Beach.
"They're trying to portray a summer of partying and women and dancing," Treasure Island spokesman Jeff Jensen said. "When you think of that, you think of Sunset Beach, right?"
Trailers and movie crews descended on Sunset Beach on Sunday to shoot segments of Soderbergh's upcoming film Magic Mike, which draws on the true story of actor Channing Tatum's teen years as an exotic dancer. He went by the stage name "Chan Crawford" in Tampa before he made it in Hollywood.
The movie stars Tatum (Dear John) as Mike, the title character and an experienced stripper who mentors an aspiring young dancer played by Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four). Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer) will co-star as Dallas, a dancer-turned-strip-club owner, who owns the club where Tatum's character works.
It was rumored that Tatum, 31, was in the area for filming, but St. Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner Jennifer Parramore could not confirm whether any of the stars were here, though Soderbergh is here to direct.
Filming along Sunset Beach largely consisted of scenes at Caddy's on the Beach and aerial shots taken from balconies and roofs of million-dollar mansions along the water's edge, Jensen said.
The filming will continue on both sides of Tampa Bay, with shots today and Wednesday on a sandbar near Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs for a beach party sequence.
Parramore said shooting will move on Friday to the Pinellas Bayway Bridge in St. Petersburg. That day will involve a scene of someone jumping off the bridge, and scenes of actors driving along the thoroughfare, so traffic may be temporarily diverted at times.
Soderbergh cranks up his cameras Saturday at an undisclosed Pinellas County construction site, before moving to Tampa on Sunday and Monday.
Magic Mike is the second production Soderbergh has brought to Tampa Bay, after spending several days in 2001 at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg filming portions of Oceans Eleven.
Magic Mike is set to be released sometime in 2012.
Times movie critic Steve Persall contributed to this report.