The Pittsburgh Film Office is pleased to announce that Pittsburgh is one of the top 5 small cities and towns […]POSTED ON: January 25, 2022
MovieMaker Magazine rates Pittsburgh as one of the Best Small Cities for MovieMakers!
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.”
Dear Zoe is a powerful coming-of-age story of resilience in which teenage Tess enlists the support of her biological father […]POSTED ON: October 4, 2022
“Dear Zoe” Premiere – November 2nd
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!
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:
Comedy series about the WWII All-American professional women's baseball league.
Starring: Abbi Jacobson
CLICK TO REGISTERPOSTED ON: August 9, 2022
Anatomy of a Movie: “The Fountainhead” 8/18 @ 6pm
Hollywood built a stadium and local ballplayers came running. JOSHUA AXELROD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [email protected] AUG 4, 2022 5:39 PM Most Hollywood movies […]POSTED ON: August 5, 2022
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: ‘A League of Their Own’ leaves a permanent legacy at CCAC Boyce Park
Hollywood built a stadium and local ballplayers came running.
JOSHUA AXELROD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [email protected] AUG 4, 2022 5:39 PM
Most Hollywood movies and shows that film on location don’t leave much behind once production wraps. Anyone stepping foot on the Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce Park campus, though, will have direct access to a piece of impending television history for as long as it remains standing.
Last year, Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television built a brand-new baseball complex over the old CCAC Boyce field to serve as the home stadium for the Rockford Peaches in “A League of Their Own,” the TV adaptation of the 1992 Penny Marshall movie about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The eight-episode first season that filmed throughout Western Pennsylvania last summer and fall is set to debut Aug. 12 on Amazon Prime Video.
The stadium was built to look at home both in World War II-era Rockford, Ill., and modern Western Pennsylvania so it could be used by the community in perpetuity. CCAC has already taken full advantage of the stadium’s presence on its Monroeville branch campus as both a home field for its newly rejuvenated baseball team and as an invaluable recruitment tool.
“We really appreciate the exposure we’re receiving,” Bob Keslar, CCAC’s athletic director, told the Post-Gazette. “The show isn’t even out yet and people are talking about it. It’s been a great relationship, and we’re really grateful for this opportunity to showcase our facilities and our athletes.” Joshua AxelrodAmazon drops first trailer for locally filmed ‘A League of Their Own’ series“A League of Their Own” producer James Dodson during construction of the Rockford Peaches’ home stadium on the campus of CCAC Boyce in June 2021.(Eric Dilucente)
‘Walking back in time’
Bill Spina recently completed his first year as CCAC’s head baseball coach after spending four years as an assistant. The Plum native grew up playing ball at the old CCAC Boyce field and said that it was a pretty nice ballpark “until the upkeep was neglected.”
That’s the state the field had fallen into when “A League of Their Own” location manager Eric Dilucente came across it in spring 2021.
“There wasn’t a stadium,” Dilucente said. “What they had was two dugouts and some wooden bleachers.”
The Forest Hills native with 30-plus years of entertainment industry experience had been scouring the East Coast for weeks to find a park suitable for the Peaches’ home stadium since filming of “A League of Their Own” was suddenly moved from California to Western Pennsylvania. The production also secured Aliquippa’s Morrell Field to film Peaches away games and built a smaller field on an industrial site in Ambridge for another important storyline.
Eventually, Dilucente, who took classes at CCAC before getting a degree at the University of Pittsburgh, narrowed down his choices for the Peaches’ home stadium to a field in Erie, Pullman Park in Butler and CCAC Boyce. CCAC’s spring baseball season was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so their field wasn’t in use at the time. The crew ultimately opted to build over CCAC Boyce’s field in an effort to acquire “a permanent structure” they could use again for any subsequent seasons, Dilucente said.
Construction took place from May to July 2021. The entirely local crews did everything from pouring 120 yards of concrete for the base paths and foundation to obtaining specialty steel despite supply-chain issues. Anyone who appreciates the stadium’s 1940s aesthetic on “A League of Their Own” can thank the likes of Harmony-based contractor Modany Falcone and Downtown-based Atlantic Engineering Services for bringing the stadium to life.
“Our construction crews and our team were unbelievable,” Dilucente said. “When they build something, you feel like it was always there. You feel like you’re walking back into time.”CCAC catcher Derek Colon takes a swing during the district championship series against North Carolina’s Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute on May 13, 2022, on CCAC’s Boyce Park campus.(CCAC)
That stadium feel
Bob Kelley had only been CCAC’s assistant general counsel for about a month when the notion of building a stadium for “A League of Their Own” came to his attention. Since there was a lot of turnover happening at CCAC during that period, Kelley wound up being Dilucente’s primary point person and became a de facto “project advocate” trying to convince his colleagues that the new stadium could be “a showpiece for the college.”
When Kelley visited the construction site, he expected to find a “very nice skeleton of a ballpark.” Instead, he said “it was like stepping into a time capsule.” The stadium’s partially peeling paint and slightly rusted light fixtures made it feel like it had been there for many years.
“It took a while to get everything teed up from a contractual perspective,” Kelley said. “It overshot everyone’s expectations.”
Since “A League of Their Own” vacated the stadium, it has hosted a few youth teams, some local high school squads and served as the primary home field for CCAC’s baseball team. Keslar said some small adjustments were made to comply with current requirements. For example, since protective screens behind home plate didn’t exist in the 1940s, one had to be temporarily installed.
CCAC baseball enjoyed a terrific spring 2022 season that included winning both its conference and region. The new stadium was the site of a May district championship series in which CCAC ended up falling to North Carolina’s Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. Keslar said that about 100 fans lined the grandstands for those contests, which Spina thinks is the “most attention we’ve had from the college probably ever as a baseball program.”
“The atmosphere is fantastic,” he said. “The sound from the audience really echoes and permeates. It gives you that really good stadium feel. … It gives you extra motivation as a player once you hear the roar from a crowd.”Abbi Jacobson, left, and Chanté Adams in the Pittsburgh-shot Amazon Prime Video series “A League of Their Own.” (Amazon Prime Video)
Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer sees the CCAC Boyce stadium as physical evidence of the “far-reaching impacts” production work can have on local communities. In her estimation, the Western Pennsylvania crews who built it more or less from scratch “knocked it out of the park with a fabulous baseball stadium that I can’t wait to see on screen.”
As someone who had some connection to CCAC, Dilucente loved doing something for the school “that carries on and pays it forward to the community.” He hopes the stadium inspires fans to visit the Boyce campus once audiences see it in action on “A League of Their Own.”
“People don’t see the tourist value or advertisement value of filming,” he said. “Every neighborhood we go into, we spend tens of thousands of dollars and pump that into the local community. … That money is directly felt in all these communities. There are so many places where that makes a huge difference.”
One of those places is CCAC’s baseball program. Spina said that he has 13 returning players and 28 new recruits coming in this year. He believes the facilities Amazon and Sony created “played a large role” in convincing those players to give CCAC a shot.
If all goes well, the stadium will be open for public use “in a meaningful way” by next spring, Kelley said. Vlad St. Surin, CCAC’s dean of students for engagements, plans to hold a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the occasion.
“Everyone to some degree has an opportunity to make money, but very few have the opportunity to make history,” St. Surin said. “Because of the stadium being built, we have an opportunity to make history, build on it and serve our students.”
Classes at CCAC resume Aug. 22, and Spina plans to give his players a brief reprieve before fall-season practices start Aug. 29. He knows they’re excited to see their ballpark on “A League of Their Own” and said he’ll hold a viewing party for them once everyone is back on campus.
If the series does return to the area for more filming, he has no problems sharing his home field — as long as they can work around his team’s schedule.
“We thank them and hope the series is a success,” he said before adding with a chuckle: “We’re excited to get our field back 100%.”
Joshua Axelrod: [email protected] and Twitter @jaxelburgh.
First Published August 4, 2022, 6:00am
Love isn’t ordinary.
Anything’s Possible is a delightfully modern Gen Z coming-of-age story that follows Kelsa, a confident high school girl who is trans, as she navigates through senior year. When her classmate Khal gets a crush on her, he musters up the courage to ask her out, despite the drama he knows it could cause. What transpires is a romance that showcases the joy, tenderness, and pain of young love.
Starring: Eva Reign, Abubakr Ali, Courtnee Carter, Kelly Lamor Wilson, Grant Reynolds, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Alec Ludacka, Noah Pacht, Naveen Paddock, Lenora Nemetz, Miriam Laube, Manu Narayan, Vanita Harbour, Bill Hartung, Simone Joy Jones, Caroline Travers, Melessie Clark, Tordy Clark, Benjamin Cummings, Lav Raman, Andy S. Allen, Michelle Do, Maria Becoates-Bey, Bailey Wilson, Walter H. McCready, Nic Inglese, Suraya Collins, Evie Piekarski, Jordan McNeal, Daniel Lawrence, Ken Lutz
Michael Machosky July 25, 2022 Arts & Entertainment, Braddock, City Design, Current Features Just last week, hometown hero Billy Porter’s made-in-Pittsburgh directorial debut, the coming-of-age romantic […]POSTED ON: July 26, 2022
NEXT Pittsburgh: Hollywood of Appalachia? Carrie Furnace gets $7.6 million for movie studio
Just last week, hometown hero Billy Porter’s made-in-Pittsburgh directorial debut, the coming-of-age romantic comedy “Anything’s Possible” hit Amazon Prime — but it’s far from the region’s only connection to Hollywood.
The Pittsburgh Film Office estimates that Western Pennsylvania saw about $330 million in economic impact from film and TV productions in 2021, though those numbers haven’t been finalized yet. For comparison, the annual average was about $150 million before 2021.
And 2022 looks like another blockbuster year.
The local industry is growing, but so is the need for infrastructure.
Enter Carrie Furnace stage left.
“We’ve done well, using our repurposed warehouses,” says Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. “31st Street Studio in the Strip has been amazing. We’ve got the former American Eagle distribution warehouse in Warrendale. We’ve got two former Westinghouse facilities that are being used as stages; we had a closed JCPenney as a stage out on Route 28 (for “Cha Cha Real Smooth”).
“What we’re building is something that can be used today, and for the filmmakers of the future. … This is important because the clients coming in expect to find this kind of facility … and we’d like to centralize the industry in one place.”
The state has awarded $7.6 million in grants and loans to the site’s owner, Regional Industrial Development Corporation. The bulk of that is for site preparation, infrastructure, roads, parking, and utility work needed to construct a 50,000-square-foot building hosting multiple sound stages.
“Pittsburgh is definitely a hot city for filming,” says Jesse Cute, vice president for Allied Global Marketing in Philadelphia, which promotes much of the film industry in the state. “Our film commissioner in Philly gets Pittsburgh-envy sometimes.”
So, Burbank by Braddock — that’s the plan?
“Ideally, we’ll have six more stages down there, plus the outbuildings that you need to make the industry happen, like production offices,” says Keezer. “And then, the longer-term plan is to have some businesses relocate down there to service the industry — what we’re calling the Pittsburgh Film Furnace.”
State tax credits end up influencing where a lot of film and TV projects end up. Pennsylvania boosted its film tax credit program to $100 million, a 30% increase, notes Keezer, but there are still more productions interested than there are tax credits available.
This is a notoriously mobile business, and the film industry is growing outside of California in places such as Atlanta, New Orleans and Vancouver.
But Pittsburgh has a few built-in advantages. Unless you’re looking for beaches or deserts or a few other particular things, you can find just about any kind of “look” here, from Manhattan-like skyscrapers to the densely wooded wilderness — all just minutes apart, instead of hours. There are well-preserved buildings from many eras, from the 1900s to the 1990s. Crime drama “Mayor of Kingstown” was lured back to Pennsylvania for its next season from Canada, because it can use Erie for waterfront scenes. Also, there’s one thing you can find here that you won’t find in many other places: gigantic factories, like the former steel mill at Carrie Furnace.
“If we need a steel mill (for a scene), well it’s hard to use a working steel mill,” notes Keezer.
Local film crews are well known for their hard work and competence.
“We have some of the best crew in the industry that live in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” says Keezer. “In the old days, when we were lucky to get one project a year, they would travel to work all over the country and all over the world. But we’re so busy now because they can stay home.”
If this industry grows further locally, it will need more workers, which opens up opportunities for struggling neighborhoods like Rankin, Braddock and Swissvale.
“It’s surrounded by communities that need an industry,” says Keezer. “We’ve created this workforce training program in partnership with the IATSE union. It’s the first place outside of New York where it’s happening. We start that on Aug. 6, and we need more people to work, and there are jobs available in this industry. These are good paying family-sustaining jobs that you don’t need a college degree.”
The Pittsburgh Film Office is a good place to check for upcoming jobs and training opportunities.
By LINDSEY BAHR July 21, 2022 Billy Porter, right, director of the new film “Anything’s Possible,” poses with the film’s […]POSTED ON: July 22, 2022
via AP News: Billy Porter and Eva Reign take on the high school rom-com
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: From furnaces to filmmaking: State awards $7.6 million for sound stage work at Mon Valley steel site
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 […]POSTED ON: July 20, 2022
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: From furnaces to filmmaking: State awards $7.6 million for sound stage work at Mon Valley steel site
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.
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.”
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