Where was Netflix’s Rustin filmed?

By Louie Fecou
Published: November 18, 2023 (Last updated: March 27, 2024)
Where was Rustin filmed
Colman Domingo as Rustin | Image via Netflix

The Netflix film Rustin is a critically acclaimed movie from director George C. Wolfe, based on a true story. It stars Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, the civil rights activist who was behind the 1963 March on Washington. Rustin opposed authority and was unapologetic about his drive and ambition and fought for what he believed in, but was sadly forgotten, often a footnote in history, despite making huge advances in the field of human rights. Rustin was filmed in the U.S. across a variety of recognizable locations in order to recreate the specific tone and feel of Rustin’s era.

The film spotlights the man who would work alongside Martin Luther King Jr and dared to imagine a different world and inspire a whole community, and has an ensemble cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Jeffrey Wright, and Audra McDonald.

Where was Rustin on Netflix filmed?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Film crews and the usual selection of trucks and vans were spotted in numerous locations around Greater Pittsburgh, and posts on X, formerly Twitter, would explain that bus routes through the area were detoured as the filming would take place.

Eagle-eyed residents would spot James Laughlin Music Hall at Chatham University at 5798 Woodland Road in the movie, and an article on TRIB Live would explain how filming would also take place on sets inside soundstages in Warrendale. Pittsburgh was used to portray 1960s New York, and surprisingly, the scenes of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were built in Warrendale due to restrictions in filming in Washington.

In an interview with TRIB Live’s Rob Owen, the film’s director George C Wolfe would say,

“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. And it’s good that we did because by the time we filmed [in D.C.] in August [2022], it was 120 degrees on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.”

Adams Morgan, Washington DC

Director George C Wolfe talked about filming in Washington and confirmed that the march itself was to be filmed there. Pictures on Instagram also showed some filming locations such as The Diner, a modern diner with old-school appeal that is located in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.


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Rumsey Aquatic Centre, Washington, DC

An article on Popville managed to get hold of a terrific photograph of a line of classic 1960s cars, lined up outside the Rumsey Aquatic Centre, which is located at 635 N Carolina Ave SE.

Rumsey Aquatic Centre

Classic 1960s cars, lined up outside the Rumsey Aquatic Centre, used for filming Rustin | Image via Popville

Who produced Rustin?

The film was produced by Higher Ground, and if the name sounds familiar, it may be because it is owned by ex-U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The powerful couple are also executive producers on the film, and the company was founded in 2018.

What else has Higher Ground produced?

The company has been involved in four feature films. In 2021, they presented Fatherhood and Worth, and along with Rustin in 2023, a future feature with a December 2023 release date is called Leave The World Behind.

TV series such as the educational Waffles and Mochi, We The People, Ada Twist, Scientist, and Our Great National Parks, narrated by Obama himself, were also part of the company’s output.

Five documentaries were also produced under the watch of Higher Ground, and they were 2019’s American Factory, 2020’s Crip Camp, and also Becoming. 2022 provided viewers with Descendant and in 2023 they released American Symphony.

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