By LINDSEY BAHR July 21, 2022

Billy Porter, right, director of the new film “Anything’s Possible,” poses with the film’s lead actor Eva Reign at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on Thursday, July 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Eva Reign stepped onto the set of “ Anything’s Possible ” for the first time almost exactly a year ago. She was, to put it mildly, nervous.

It was a big moment for Reign, who had dreamed of acting in films for most of her life but hadn’t managed to break through. She didn’t even have an agent or a manager when she responded to the open casting call. Suddenly there she was, starring in a film directed by Billy Porter about a transgender high school senior’s first big romance and all she could think about was how she was going to have to prove herself. But Porter put her at ease.

“You’re safe now. You’re doing the thing,” Porter told her. “Have fun doing the thing. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t earn it.”

“Anything’s Possible,” which debuts on Amazon Prime Video Friday, is a milestone for transgender representation in film — a studio-produced celebration of an empowered Black trans girl.

Porter likes to say that the script found him. The rom-com, written by Ximena García Lecuona, checked off a lot of boxes for the Tony- and Emmy-winning actor, who makes his directorial debut with the film. He loved that it wasn’t a coming out story. He loved that Kelsa (Reign) was already accepted by her peers and being pursued by a cute guy (Abubakr Ali). He loved that it could help dispel a pernicious fallacy that trans and queer people have “miserable lives.” And he loved that it just happened to be set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Porter was born, raised and found his voice as an artist.ENTERTAINMENTWill Smith posts an apology video for slapping Chris Rock‘Amber Brown’ springs to TV under Bonnie Hunt’s sure handJoe Manganiello gets family mysteries solved on PBS showQ&A: Melissa Barrera survives, on screen and in Hollywood

“I wanted to come back and just create a love letter to Pittsburgh, that honored all of the energies, the mentors, the teachers, the chosen families and all of the people who raised me and made me the human being that I am today,” Porter said. “That happened in Pittsburgh.”(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Alexa Fogel, who also cast “Pose,” was the one who put Reign in front of Porter. Reign was working as a freelance journalist when a friend told her about an open casting call for the film.

“She stuck out to me because there is a grounded and mature energy to her that is beyond Kelsa’s years,” Porter said. “I really felt like for the first time seeing this archetype in the mainstream marketplace, we needed a leader to guide us through this tale who was grounded and mature — probably more mature than what you would think a traditional 17-year-old would be.”

Porter was a grounding force for Reign throughout the process, encouraging her to embrace the full range of her voice which she’d been made to feel self-conscious about in the theater.Reign and Porter on the set of “Anything’s Possible.” (Tony Rivetti/Prime Video via AP)

“There are plenty of cis women out there with much, much deeper voices than mine. But when you’re a trans women, they try to put you in strange boxes that don’t make any sense, that are totally made up,” Reign said. “Billy said that before we even started shooting. And I just burst into tears. I had never had that said to me. It made me think this is the start of something totally new.”

For his part, Porter didn’t want Reign to go through what he did. When he was studying theater at Carnegie Mellon, he remembered being told that his own voice was too high for the American stage and that he’d never make it as an actor. His experience in the industry would prove otherwise.

“I’ve been through a whole lot in my life. A whole lot of naysayers. A whole lot of people telling me that who I am was not good enough, that my queerness would be my liability,” Porter said. “This piece found me because of the decisions and choices I made in my life prior, choosing myself and my authenticity decades ago.”

In Kelsa, Reign saw some similarities to her own journey, including having a supportive and sometimes overly protective mother (played in the film by Renée Elise Goldsberry). But, she said, her high school experience in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, was “a little bit rougher.”

“I was this budding trans person at the time, and a lot of people couldn’t quite figure me out,” she said.

Reign turned to writing, drawing comics and acting to express herself and eventually found her way to New York, where she’s been making a name for herself in more than one medium. She recently won a Peabody for her work in the Vice News docu-series “Transnational.” And she’s hopeful about what “Anything’s Possible” might do for the kinds of stories that are told about transgender people.

“Billy Porter is really putting in the work to have more happy, queer, trans narratives,” she said. “We’ve seen happy trans people on shows like ‘Pose’ and ‘Euphoria,’ but I kind of thought that was few and far between. I didn’t think that was something that was going to come up in my all life and career and journey as an artist. I struggle with being honest about that because I don’t want to talk in morbid ways. But I didn’t think it was feasible.”

“A lot of my friends in New York who are also trans artists and actors and writers, they’re all looking at this movie, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re doing this. We’re telling happy stories,’” she added. “We’re all kind of having this collective moment of being like, ‘Oh we’re allowed to show our joy. Hopefully we can do more of that.’”


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo

 MARK BELKO Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [email protected] JUL 19, 2022 6:55 PM

Part of the script has been written to bring a piece of Hollywood to an old Mon Valley blast furnace site.

The state has awarded $7.6 million in grants and loans to the Regional Industrial Development Corporation to help with the redevelopment of the Carrie Furnaces, with the bulk of the money targeted for the creation of a sound stage to bolster the local film industry.

Don Smith, RIDC president, said the $3 million grant and $4.6 million loan will help to fund the site preparation, infrastructure, road, parking, and utility work needed to pave the way for the construction of the sound stage.

“We’re extremely confident with this latest award that [state] Sen. [Jay] Costa championed for us that we’ll be in construction next year,” he said. 

Kris B. Mamula RIDC gets $2.5 million loan for new building near Carrie Furnaces

The new building will total about 52,000 square feet and will house two sound stages. They will represent the first sound stages built from ground up in the Pittsburgh region.

Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, said old warehouses and other repurposed sites currently are used for sound stages needed for movie and TV productions filmed locally.

The project is part of a much broader vision known as the Pittsburgh Film Furnace — a film studio campus that will house six more sound stages, a carpentry shop, production facilities, and others for make-up, wardrobes, and the like.

Ms. Keezer said the goal is to bring together at one location much of the filmmaking process in the region, one that is now scattered over multiple sites.

“We want to try to centralize all of that,” she said.

Both she and Mr. Smith said most of the money is in place for the construction of the first building once the site work and infrastructure have been completed.

“We’re ready to go to start bringing jobs to Rankin and Swissvale,” Mr. Smith said. “People are starting to see that it’s real.”

 Patricia Sabatini Allegheny County, RIDC agree to develop Carrie Furnaces site

With the surge in the production of films and shows due to streaming and the demand for new content, “we have more work than places to put them,” Ms. Keezer noted.

Last year, 11 projects were filmed in Pittsburgh. The economic impact due to such filming in 2021 totaled $330 million compared with the average of about $150 million a year.

Ms. Keezer added that the filming done in the region relies in large part on local hiring and local businesses.

The state Business In Our Sites money, approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, represents the second major piece of funding received by the RIDC for the Carrie Furnaces property, which straddles Rankin and Swissvale.

Earlier this month, RIDC received a $2.2 million loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority to help with the construction of a $10 million flex-industrial building totaling 60,000 square feet. A groundbreaking for that one-story building is expected in the spring.

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.

RIDC is partnering with Allegheny County’s redevelopment authority to bring new life to the property.

Also receiving funding under the Business In Our Sites program Tuesday was the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

It was awarded a $1.2 million grant and a $1.8 million loan for site preparation and land development related to the third phase of its Neighborhood 91 additive manufacturing campus at Pittsburgh International Airport.

In addition, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority received a $1.4 million grant and a $2.1 million loan to help with the expansion of the Fairywood Industrial Park.

A total of $48.7 million in Business In Our Sites grants and loans were awarded statewide.

Mark Belko: [email protected]

First Published July 19, 2022, 6:55pm

JOSHUA AXELROD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [email protected] JUL 11, 2022 2:09 PM

Pennsylvania’s recently finalized $45.2 billion budget for 2022-23 has gotten a lot of attention for major accomplishments such as making record investments in education and community safety. It also has the distinction of giving the state’s film production industry a major boost in the amount of projects able to set up shop here.

For years, Pennsylvania’s film production tax credit program — which provides studios with a rebate based on how much money they spend in the commonwealth — has been capped at $70 million. Members of the state Legislature’s Film Industry Caucus and outside advocates have been working tirelessly to increase that figure to at least $125 million in order to attract more productions and, subsequently, more money, to Pennsylvania via its entertainment sector.

Their efforts paid off last week when a provision enshrined in House Bill 1342 and Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 tax code officially increased the film tax incentive from $70 million to $100 million and allocated $5 million to “Pennsylvania film producers.” The bill’s language also states that the new $100 million cap “shall remain at the amount allocated for fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2022, and ending before July 1, 2025.”

It wasn’t exactly the $125 million goal many had been pushing for, but the major players involved are still happy with what they see as a win for all Pennsylvanians. Gillian McGoldrickPa.’s $45.2 billion budget: A closer look at how the state’s tax dollars will be spent

“This is a victory for the working people of Pennsylvania, those individuals who work in this production space,” Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills and co-chair of the state Senate’s Film Industry Caucus, told the Post-Gazette. “It’s going to attract movie and TV productions alike to our region and stimulate local economies.”

Costa and Film Caucus co-chair Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Monongahela, had introduced legislation to expand the film tax credit program on two separate occasions prior to this $30 million increase. Their attempt at adding $55 million to the film incentive failed in last year’s budget cycle, but they kept trying to convince their colleagues that the alleged $1 billion worth of film and TV projects knocking on Pennsylvania’s door was enough reason to up the tax credit.

They both said that this bill is not only a boon for local entertainment workers, but also for the businesses that will reap the benefits of Hollywood productions using their towns and neighborhoods as a home base.

“These are really good-paying jobs that provide livelihoods for families to move here, stay here, buy a home and put their kids through college,” Bartolotta said. “To see that, after all these years, we moved the needle to go up $30 million right now will give us the opportunity to bring hundreds of millions of capital investment into Western Pennsylvania.”

Bartolotta name-checked both Pittsburgh Film Office Director Dawn Keezer and Haddad’s Inc. CEO David Haddad for being “great advocates and storytellers for the benefit of this film tax credit and what it brings to Pennsylvania.” Keezer appeared before a Senate panel in April as part of a discussion about potentially expanding the state’s film tax credit program during the upcoming budget cycle.

She told the Post-Gazette that the 11 projects filmed in southwestern Pennsylvania last year had a more than $300 million in economic impact on the region.

“Our over 20,000 Pennsylvanians and hundreds of local small businesses that rely on this industry are overjoyed with the support from the commonwealth and are looking forward to another record-breaking year for film and TV production,” Keezer added.
 Gillian McGoldrickPittsburgh-area film workers praise Pa.’s film tax credit, ask for increase before state Senate panel

Haddad, whose company rents out film equipment to productions nationwide, is also the chair of the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association, an advocacy group that had been working with the likes of Costa and Bartolotta to explain what increasing the film incentive could do for Pennsylvania’s economy on both state and local levels. The Pleasant Hills native has also been on the board of the Pittsburgh Film Office for 26 years.

He said that the original $125 million ask was based on the amount of film tax incentive PAFIA calculated would be required to attract enough productions for a full year of work. The original $70 million incentive accounted for about six months of work, and Haddad thinks this new $100 million cap should buy Pennsylvania at least nine months worth of film and television projects to keep entertainment workers busy.

“We’re extremely pleased,” he said. “We’ve been working for eight years to bump the credit. It’s been a long journey and roller coaster ride. But we’re glad the legislators and branches of government have seen how successful it was and expanded it.”

He also touted the $5 million set aside for Pennsylvania-based filmmakers as “a feather in our cap” in terms of giving more local creatives a shot at making their dream film or show. That said, Haddad made it clear that “our work is not done yet” when it comes to getting that film tax credit up to the desired $125 million threshold.

For now, though, those who fought for a more robust film tax credit pie are celebrating what they view as an incremental but still necessary victory.

“We wanted to make a clear statement that we value the relationship we have with these folks from across the country and that we want them to come here to produce shows and movies,” Costa said. “Our workforce stands ready and we’re looking forward to the economic impact this will have in the state.”

Joshua Axelrod: [email protected] and Twitter @jaxelburgh.

First Published July 11, 2022, 2:09pm–3o

The Pittsburgh Film Office is pleased to announce that Pittsburgh is one of the top 5 small cities and towns on MovieMaker Magazine’s list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2022! MovieMaker compiles its annual list based on surveys, production spending, tax incentives, additional research, and personal visits, whenever possible.“It is great to have the Pittsburgh region recognized once again as one of the BEST PLACES TO LIVE AND WORK IN MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE.” Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer says. “We are grateful that the amazingly gifted local crew and talent has been recognized for their incredible skills to bring stories to the screen.” “As a former Pittsburgher, I tell everyone who will listen that it may be the most underrated movie city in America,” says MovieMaker editor-in-chief Tim Molloy. “Stunningly cinematic, from the skyline to the inclines to the gorgeous greenery to all the authentic, historic neighborhoods, it’s a storyteller’s dream — and it’s affordable, culturally thriving, and one of the friendliest places you’ll ever go. The Pittsburgh Film Office does an exceptional job of helping productions of all sizes. I’m thrilled and not at all surprised that the local film business is as busy as it’s ever been.”

PITTSBURGH – The Department of Public Works announced today that it has granted a permit to Fidelis Productions, LLC to close Pitcairn Road between the Sugar Camp Park entrance in Pitcairn Borough and Tilbrook Road in Monroeville as well as Stroschein Road between Pitcairn Road and Wyngate Drive in Monroeville. The closures will occur from 7 p.m. Thursday, July 29 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, July 30. They are required for a film shoot.   Residents who live within the closure areas will have access to their homes at all times.  Pitcairn Road traffic will be detoured using Wall Avenue, Broadway Boulevard (Route 130), Brinton Road, Rosso Drive, and Tilbrook Road. Stroschein Road traffic will be detoured using Wyngate Drive and Monroeville Boulevard. For more information, contact John Adkins at 412-352-6465 or [email protected].

Scammers have been targeting film crew on job or listing websites with false job offers posing as real film industry professionals.

Be wary of suspicious emails.

Please call the Pittsburgh Film Office to verify the legitimacy of any productions that contact you.

In some cases, the scammer will try to mail checks to you as pre-payment, usually in the amount of thousands of dollars. They will ask you to deposit the check promptly, and it will bounce.


The scammers may also offer to meet with you in person. Please be careful and investigate job offers before going to any location. Ask questions and do research.

PITTSBURGH – The Department of Public Works announced today that it has permitted Fidelis Productions, LLC to move the dates of its upcoming road closures in the Municipality of Monroeville and Pitcairn Borough. Pitcairn Road between the Sugar Camp Park entrance and Tilbrook Road as well as Stroschein Road between Pitcairn Road and Wyngate Drive will now close from 7 p.m. Friday, June 25 to 4 a.m. Saturday, June 26. The closures are required for a film shoot.   Residents who live within the closure areas will have access to their homes at all times.   Pitcairn Road traffic will be detoured using Wall Avenue, Broadway Boulevard (Route 130), Brinton Road, Rosso Drive, and Tilbrook Road. Stroschein Road traffic will be detoured using Wyngate Drive and Monroeville Boulevard.   The closures were originally scheduled to occur overnight on 6/18. However, due to recent storms, streetlight work necessary for the film shoot has been delayed.  
For more information, contact John Adkins at 412-352-6465 or [email protected].

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Joshua Axelrod

An office building in the Strip District will serve as a filming site for Jeff Daniels’ Showtime series “Rust” on Tuesday, with one street nearby being shut down during production.

The City of Pittsburgh Office of Special Events confirmed to the Post-Gazette that Showtime had been granted a permit for filming Tuesday at the Burns White Center on 26th Street in the Strip District. “Rust” is the only announced movie or TV show in town currently filming, according to Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer.

As part of Tuesday’s filming, the portion of 26th Street that extends from where it intersects with Railroad Street to the point it dead ends at a trail along the Allegheny River will be closed from 5:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for parking and staging equipment during the Burns White Center shoot, according to the Office of Special Events.

All of the filming will take place inside the Burns White Center, so the Office of Special Events doesn’t anticipate any noise or lighting-related disruptions, especially to those living in the nearby Yards at 3 Crossings apartment complex. The Office of Special Events did specify that “any impacted residents will be accommodated.”

Jeff Daniels stars as former FBI director James B. Comey in “The Comey Rule.”
Joshua Axelrod
Jeff Daniels’ Showtime series ‘Rust’ to film Thursday in Ross
“Rust” was supposed to film in and around the Steel City beginning in March 2020 but was forced to delay a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production is back up and running now though, and this is at least the second time it has gotten permits for road closures after it did so for an April shooting day in Ross.

Its 10-episode first season will star Daniels, Bill Camp and Maura Tierney, among others. Daniels is playing Del Harris, the police chief of a small Western Pennsylvania town who is put in a tough position when the son of the woman he loves is accused of murder.

First Published May 3, 2021, 1:51pm

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PITTSBURGH – The Department of Public Works announced today that it has granted a permit to Fidelis Productions, LLC to close Thompson Run Road between Babcock Boulevard and Vilsack Road in Ross Township. The closure will occur between noon to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 22, 2021, and it is required for a film shoot. Traffic will be detoured using Babcock Boulevard, Evergreen Road, Anderson Road, and Vilsack Road. Police will be used to help control traffic, and local residents will have access to their homes throughout the closure.
For more information, contact John Adkins at 412-352-6465 or [email protected].