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 PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE  OCT 14, 2022 8:02 AM

Forged in steel, the Mon Valley may soon become a hub for the big screen.

A film studio housing sound stages is one of two flex buildings being developed at the historic Carrie Furnaces property as part of its long-awaited revival.

Officials gathered Thursday at the sprawling site bordering Swissvale, Braddock and Rankin for a groundbreaking in advance of construction, which could start on both buildings sometime next spring.

Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, said her goal is to turn the former brawny industrial site into a campus for the production of TV shows and movies. It has been dubbed the Film Furnace.

“We’re going to make this the center for the film industry,” she said.

The Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania is overseeing the transformation of the site, which features 55 acres of developable land.

It plans to start with the construction of a 60,000-square-foot tech flex building next year, to be followed shortly thereafter by the work of the film studio.

The projects represent the first tangible pieces of development on the property, with the imposing Carrie Furnaces serving as a dramatic backdrop of its past — and perhaps as a prop for its future.

“This truly is a phoenix rising from the ashes,” said state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Monongahela, who is co-chair of the Senate’s Film Industry Caucus and a film office board member.

Ms. Keezer said the type of film village envisioned at Carrie Furnaces will help the region to compete more effectively with states like New Jersey, Georgia and New York, which are building their own facilities.

“Today’s really an amazing day. It’s been years in the making. And we’re thrilled to be able to tie the history of our past with where we’re going in the future,” she said.

The region, Ms. Keezer noted, is on a roll in terms of film production.

Last year brought 11 projects, with another 10 scheduled for this year. They represent about $300 million in investment and 10,000 jobs, she said.

The Pittsburgh Film Office has received $2.85 million in state redevelopment assistance capital grants and a $3 million federal grant to help with the construction.

Coupled with private investment, Ms. Keezer is confident the funding will be available by next spring to start work on the 60,000-square-foot film studio.

“We want it to be the go-to place for the film industry in southwestern Pennsylvania,” she said.

She ultimately hopes to create up to six sound stages on the property and attract other film-related offshoots like props, costumes, casting and special effects as well as restaurants, coffee shops and the like to serve the people working there.

“We see it as a real catalyst for the building and all the positive changes happening down here in this area,” she said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald envisions the Carrie Furnaces complementing Hazelwood Green and other former mill sites in McKeesport and Duquesne that are being redeveloped.

Those facilities that “used to be such a production haven for steels and metals way back when are now going to be a haven for technology and film and IT and life sciences and all of the things Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh region is becoming,” he said.

Before work can begin on either of the first two buildings, the RIDC will be installing roads, utilities and other infrastructure, President Don Smith said.

Including those costs, the first flex building development is expected to total about $20 million, he said. The film studio will cost “in the teens of millions.”

Mr. Smith doesn’t anticipate a problem attracting interest in the first building, which is being started without a signed tenant.

“I think there’s a lot of possibilities. We’re actually seeing probably some of the strongest industrial demand that we’ve seen certainly in my 14 years in the business. It ranges everywhere from R&D to light assembly to manufacturing.” he said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said the redevelopment of the site has been “a long time coming.” He said his grandfather worked at the Carrie Furnaces for 40 years.

In addition to helping with the $3 million in funding for the film studio, Mr. Doyle was instrumental in securing a federal grant to build a flyover ramp into the site that was crucial for its redevelopment.

“Like many of us here in the region, it’s made a lot of us sad to see this site sitting empty and being an economic burden on the surrounding communities when its redevelopment could bring new businesses and jobs to the area,” he said.

“So I’m very pleased that today we’re breaking ground on the first phase of this very important project.”

The RIDC believes the 55 acres of developable land could accommodate as much as 600,000 square feet of new construction. Another 11 acres are available west of the site for a potential future phase.

RIDC officials have an option to purchase land from the county’s redevelopment authority, which is the owner of the property.

The Carrie Furnaces tower 92 feet over the Monongahela River and were once part of the U.S. Steel Homestead Works. The site, which dates back to 1884, has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

First Published October 13, 2022, 5:17pm

90.5 WESA | By Margaret J. Krauss Published October 14, 2022 at 5:35 AM EDT

221013_CarrieFurnace_groundbreaking_shovels_MJK.jpg
The development adjoins the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces, formerly part of the U.S. Steel Homestead Works.

A slate of federal, state, and local officials gathered Thursday to break ground for a 60,000-square-foot tech space near the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces in Rankin. All said they expect development on the site, which once churned out iron to feed the region’s storied steelmaking industry, to forge new possibilities for the Mon Valley.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Congressman Mike Doyle, whose grandfather, Mike Doyle, worked at the Carrie Furnaces after emigrating from Ireland. Doyle, the U.S. representative, helped to secure funding for the site over many years.

“There’s been a steady stream of investment and focus on bringing this site back to life,” said Donald Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, or RIDC. The site, he predicted, will soon host “great jobs that will sustain families across our region, and contribute to the economic prosperity of these three important towns that this site touches: Swissvale, Rankin, and Braddock.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said that what was once a haven for metals production is now going to be “a haven for technology, and film, and IT, and life sciences and all the things that Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh region is becoming.”

RIDC aims to attract new companies with a pair of 60,000-square-foot buildings that can be converted to a variety of uses, as well as by further building out the infrastructure on the 55-acre site with new roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks. RIDC is also working with the Pittsburgh Film Office to create “The Film Furnace,” a film studio with a sound stage and other facilities to attract television and movie productions.

A purpose-built soundstage is “really needed by our clients,” said Dawn Keezer, who directs the Pittsburgh Film Office. In 2021 and 2022, more than 20 projects were shot in Pittsburgh, bringing more than $300 million and 10,000 jobs to the area, she said. The sound stage is expected to only increase the region’s draw.

While RIDC is acting as the developer on the site, the land is owned by Allegheny County. In September, county officials announced a multimillion dollar effort to build a non-motorized connection between the Carrie Furnaces and the Great Allegheny Passage. On Thursday, officials said that investment allows the site to piggyback on the investment all along the GAP, from Downtown through Hazelwood and Hazelwood Green.

The Carrie Blast Furnaces were part of U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works, and employed thousands of people before they closed in 1982. Nonprofit Rivers of Steel has worked to preserve the furnaces as well as open them to the public.

Smith thanked Rivers of Steel for their work in preserving and sharing the story of the furnaces, “so that our kids can understand what this region was all about back in the day, while we’re busy creating what this region’s going to be about in the future.”

RYAN DETO | Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022 1:50 p.m.5523898_web1_GTR-CarrieFurnace05-072119

The Carrie Blast Furnaces, a National Historic Landmark, on July 10, 2019.5523898_web1_ptr-CarrieFurnaceGroundbreaking-101422

RYAN DETO | TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Local Pittsburgh officials at a ceremonial ground breaking for the Carrie Blast Furnace site on Oct. 13, 2022.

Officials on Thursday announced that two, 60,000-square-foot buildings will be built on the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces site in Rankin.

The first is being marketed as a tech flex space and the other will be a film sound stage and production facility.

Roads and other infrastructure for the 55-acre site are starting construction this year. Carrie Blast Furnaces is a preserved brownfield site that was part of the Homestead Steel Works.

The site is being developed by the Regional Industrial Development Corp. Its president, Don Smith, said at a news conference the film building will be the first purpose-built soundstage in the Pittsburgh area. He said the two buildings are part of eight total plots that RIDC expects will eventually bring hundreds of jobs to Carrie Furnaces.

“This site represents economic progress for our region,” Smith said. “A site for jobs that will sustain families.”

Smith recognized U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, for helping to secure millions of dollars in funding for the site, including the initial federal dollars for a flyover bridge that made the site accessible.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Doyle, who added that his grandfather worked at Carrie Blast Furnace after immigrating from Ireland. “We have been working hard to put abandoned properties like this back into use again.”

The initial tech-flex building and its infrastructure will cost nearly $20 million, which includes a combination of federal budget appropriations and private grants and loans and equity provided by RIDC.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald called the site “hallowed ground” because of the steel industry’s’ role in building the country and winning wars.

“As the Mon Valley used to be used for the production of steel, now it will be for the growth of tech, life sciences and other industries,” Fitzgerald said.

He said the site is situated well for access, as it is located near the East Busway and will soon be getting a bike-and-pedestrian trail extension thanks to a $9.2 million allocation from Allegheny County.

Pittsburgh Film Office Director Dawn Keezer said the development would be a boon for the local film industry. She said film clients really needed a new space.

Smith also expects the buildings will help boost the film industry, as two repurposed sound stages in the area have recently been taken offline.

“This will tie the history of our past with where we are going into the future,” Keezer said.

Ryan Deto is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Ryan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Photo courtesy of Ron Baraff / Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

Carrie Furnace breaks ground on tech/flex space with a film studio in the works

Michael Machosky  October 13, 2022  Arts & EntertainmentBraddockBusiness & Tech NewsCity Design

The monolithic steel-era ruins of the Carrie Furnace have long been a popular backdrop for film and video — from the Christian Bale crime thriller “Out of the Furnace” to “American Ninja Warrior” to Wiz Khalifa’s music videos. Now, the massive site along the Monongahela River is getting its own movie studio.

“This will be the first purpose-built sound stage facility in the region,” says Dawn Keezer, director the Pittsburgh Film Office. “It’s really needed by our clients. We had 11 projects shoot in 2021. We’ll have 10 projects shoot this year. They’ll be bringing with it about $200 million in new money to the economy, and we’re talking about 10,000 jobs.”

While funding and the final design for the studio are pending, Carrie Furnace is getting its first new building, a 60,000-square-foot tech/flex space designed to attract the kinds of companies that are fueling Pittsburgh’s economy. Officials from the city, state and neighborhoods helped break ground for the project on Thursday morning.

Carrie Furnace. Photo courtesy of the RIDC.

“This Carrie Furnace site was the economic epicenter of this region and created family-sustaining jobs for so many,” says Don Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) which is developing the site.

“And we all know about the difficulties that happened with the deindustrialization of the United States; it certainly hit Pittsburgh harder than most. But thanks to the efforts of so many folks, there’s been a steady stream of focus and investment in bringing this site back to life.”

The building and infrastructure will cost $20 million coming from a combination of public and private grants and loans and equity provided by RIDC.

The Carrie Furnace property has 55 acres of developable land, with 11 more acres available west of the site for future development.

Rivers of Steel will continue to preserve the remaining Carrie Furnace steel mill as a national historic site, showcasing the region’s industrial heritage.

Groundbreaking event at the Carrie Furnace. Photo by Mike Machosky.

“When my grandfather immigrated from Ireland and landed in Swissvale, he got a job at Carrie Furnace,” says Congressman Mike Doyle. “And he worked there for 40 years. And his son, Mike Doyle, worked a few miles down at the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock for 30 years. And his son worked two summers at J&L (Steel) and said, ‘I don’t want to be a steelworker.’”

Doyle notes that he helped secure $3 million in the House’s 2023 spending bill for the film production facility.

“All of us who grew up here are proud of the legacy our fathers and grandfathers left us,” says Doyle. “They did hard, dangerous work here at Carrie Furnace, and they did it to support their families … that’s why it’s been a labor of love for me to work to preserve Carrie Furnace.”

Dear Zoe is a powerful coming-of-age story of resilience in which teenage Tess enlists the support of her biological father – a lovable slacker – and the charming juvenile delinquent next door in the aftermath of the death of her little sister, Zoe.

The movie is based on the novel by Pittsburgh author, Philip Beard, and the screenplay adaptation was written by Pittsburgher Melissa Martin, and Pittsburgh native, Marc Lhormer. Marc and his wife, Brenda, produced the film under their shingle Zin Haze Productions. The movie was shot entirely in Pittsburgh, PA in the fall of 2019. Key locations included Braddock, Kennywood, Squirrel Hill, downtown Pittsburgh. This movie is truly a love letter to our beautiful city!

Directed by Gren Wells (The Road Within), Dear Zoe stars Sadie Sink (Stranger Things), Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy), Jessica Capshaw (Grey’s Anatomy), Vivien Lyra Blair (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Justin Bartha (National Treasure) and newcomer Kweku Collins.

Dear Zoe can be seen in select Pittsburgh theaters and will be available to rent or buy on multiple video on demand platforms as of Friday, November 4!. 

Don’t Miss A Chance to Attend the Red Carpet Premiere of Dear Zoe on Wednesday, November 2!

Event Schedule:

5:00PM    Red Carpet Arrivals and Hosted Reception, August Wilson African American Cultural Center, 980 Liberty Avenue

6:15PM    Opening Remarks

6:30PM    Dear Zoe Screening

8:00PM    Q&A with Cast

$95 tickets go on sale September 24th at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. A share of net proceeds will go to Pittsburgh’s The Caring Place, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports grieving children and their families. 

Purchase tickets for the premiere at the August Wilson Center on Wednesday, November 2nd:
https://awc.culturaldistrict.org/production/83772/dear-zoe-premiere

The Pittsburgh Film Office and Pittsburgh Film and Media Educators Alliance are excited to present the virtual event,  PITCH-BURGH – THE SCREENING, Friday September 18th at 5pm via Zoom Meeting!

Please join us to view a selection of student works created this year! As a follow-up to the successful Pitch-Burgh event at the beginning of the year, Pitch-Burgh The Screening gives students from different universities in the Pittsburgh area the opportunity to come together and showcase their completed projects. Come join in and hear their experiences and stories from creating their films! Kevin Smith of the University of Pittsburgh will be hosting the event and leading the discussion. The Zoom call will begin at 5:00pm on Friday, September 18th.

Pitch-Burgh – The Screening 

Friday, September 18th, 2020

5:00pm

Hosted by Kevin Smith, Screenwriter and Director of Undergraduate Studies – Broadcasting and Senior Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh

 

Join the Screening on Zoom

https://pitt.zoom.us/j/96617911621

Meeting ID: 966 1791 1621

 

Please RSVP to [email protected] for the passcode to join in! The meeting is passcode protected and you will need it to join the call.

 

Films:

“Perception” – Kayla Lukitsch

“A Role to Play” – Matthew Knight

“Cheers COVID-19: Boxing Rage” – Derrick Ostolaza

“House Fly” – Sarah Gabany

“Stand Above the Hate” – Timante’ Morris

“Shortest of Stories” – Jennifer Springel

“Fear the Outside” – CCAC Students

“The Social Distance Film” – CCAC Students

“A Gentleman” – Amina Hawes

Are you a filmmaker that loves fashion?

From Pittsburgh Fashion week: “We are planning to bring together fashion and film for the first annual Pittsburgh Fashion Week film festival. We know there are countless independent filmmakers in Pittsburgh and across the country capable of producing quality productions that are always looking for opportunities to showcase their ability.

According to John Valentine, Downtown CDC Executive Director, “We believe this project fits into one of our goals, which is, making Pittsburgh a national and then hopefully an international fashion city.” In line with that goal, this festival will also have a special award that will honor a film entered in the festival.

This all-inclusive event will be an entrance to a place that can offer perspectives communicated through a fashion film festival.”

More Info: https://www.pghfw.com/2020-lineup

Apply for PGHFW Film Festival 2020

ANATOMY OF A MOVIE
What was the screenwriter thinking? ~ a unique way to learn a unique craft

“Gags” & Aha! Moments
Most of the screenwriting process takes place away from a keyboard and desk. The story, the situations, character introductions, subplots, story points, setups & payoffs, “gags,” transitions, edits, “slug lines”, etc. are all thought about long before the writer downloads screenwriting software onto their computer. Many times—if not most—the ending is known before the beginning is.
There are numerous things a writer of a screenplay must think about when building their story. “Gags” and Aha! Moments are just two of them.
We will be using technology to show you a video with clips from well known—and some not-so-well known—movies to give examples of Gags and Aha! Moments. (A gag doesn’t need to be humorous—but adds greatly to our “friendship” with a character.)
This is the second Anatomy of a Movie presentation using Zoom. It’s not the future—it’s the “now.”
There is nothing harder to write than a motion picture screenplay. The writer can’t use the First Person or the Third Person to explain what is going on. There is a limited range for the length. It is a format unique to itself.
But if you can “train your brain” to think the way a screenwriter (actually any writer) must, there will be ancillary benefits to your professional and personal lives, and you may be able to write books, articles, business plans, love letters, etc.

No charge. Discounts given to “Fade In” screenwriting software and the “Write Your Script” class.

DATE: SUNDAY JUNE 7TH
TIME: 12 NOON UNTIL 1PM SHARP
VENUE: YOUR LIVING ROOM, DEN, BASEMENT, KITCHEN, PATIO…

(“Ctrl & Click the link below to register. Registration is required.)
REGISTER HERE!!

Submitted by: Ken Kaszak