Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate #PGHonBroadway! As they say, the third time is a charm. We were charmed by all of the incredible Pittsburghers who came out to show their black and gold pride. Stay tuned for updates on The Reel Teens: Pittsburgh’s coverage of the event. In the mean time, check out the article in The Post-Gazette. We’ll see you all again in eleven years!
What do “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” producer Tom Pellegrini, MTV’s “The Buried Life” associate producer Ryan O’Shea, and “The Next Food Star” production assistant extraordinaire Kat Weiler have in common? They are examples of the many Steeltown interns now working on major film and TV productions after having gained valuable experience and built connections and relationships by working for the Steeltown Entertainment Project during college.
“Everybody wants to get producer credits as fast as possible, but you really have to put in the work first,” says Pellegrini, Steeltown’s first intern, who started in the kitchen of Steeltown co-founder Ellen Weiss Kander, and whose internship at Steeltown got him the connection with comedian Louie Anderson that lead to his first job in Hollywood as an assistant and creative executive. “Steeltown’s a good training ground. There aren’t many opportunities to get that kind of experience in Pittsburgh. Working at Steeltown really shows you how the entertainment industry works. You deal with the biggest players in Hollywood through Steeltown. Interns work on short films and get connected to people who are Hollywood heavy-hitters, and this ultimately helps [them] jump from Pittsburgh to L.A. or New York.”
“Steeltown is great for getting hands-on experience and making connections that you can’t find anywhere else,” agreed O’Shea, whose experiences with Steeltown included work on the Smithsonian Channel documentary “A Shot to Save the World,” a Steeltown co-produced regional version of “The People Speak” featuring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and a WQED/Steeltown produced talk show pilot with “Two and a Half Men” and longtime Steeltown adviser director/producer Jamie Widdoes. “There’s something for everyone, regardless of your particular interests. I’d definitely recommend looking into the organization and finding out more.”
Kat Weiler, a University of Pittsburgh communications major and former captain of Pitt’s women’s soccer team, got her first television production experience working on the Jamie Widdoes talk show pilot, and before she graduated found herself with a job offer to work with Jamie and his producing partner Peter Isacksen on their innovative Subway sponsored webseries, “4 to 9ers,” in Los Angeles. “Because Steeltown has small staff, interns get a lot of hands-on experience, which is great. I got a lot of experience just because I was given the task and was trusted to do it.” Weiler has gone on to parlay that first job into a series of production gigs on various shows, including on “The Next Food Star,” which was produced by the same company that recently shot a pilot, featuring Iron Chef judge and celebrity chef/restaurateur Donatella Arpaia, in Pittsburgh with the WQED/Steeltown Incubator. “Working really closely with Hollywood advisors through Steeltown is great and opens a lot of doors.”
Pellegrini and O’Shea have also gone on to work on numerous film and television productions. In addition to his producing work on “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” which was one of the highest grossing documentaries of 2012, Pellegrini co-produced two films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival: “Sympathy for Delicious,” starring Mark Ruffalo, Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney, and Juliette Lewis; and “Hesher,” starring Natalie Portman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He also served as an executive on the five-time Tony Award nominated Broadway show “Rock of Ages,” and co-produced “Barry Munday” starring Patrick Wilson and Judy Greer. O’Shea, in addition to his work Associate Producing “The Buried Life,” has been a production assistant on “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Jack Reacher,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and Nickelodeon’s “Supah Ninjas.”
As a closing bit of advice for students looking to jump-start a career in the entertainment industry, O’Shea offered that “the most important thing anyone interested in the entertainment industry can do to get started is put in the effort. Show up to events and make connections. Don’t ever say “no” to an opportunity, and volunteer whenever possible. Steeltown is perfect for that.”
Pittsburgh Film Community, we want to hear from you. If you’re a college student seeking an internship, a film or industry professional, an emerging or independent filmmaker, or an educator, go to www.steeltown.org/get-connected to learn more about what Steeltown can do for you
Steeltown Entertainment Project CEO Carl Kurlander is pleased to announce that mediaconsultant and award winning Pittsburgh television journalist Michael Bartley has been named Executive Vice President of Production and Development at Steeltown. Michael joined Steeltown in January as a consulting producer for “The Reel Teens: Pittsburgh” mentoring 18 teens from different schools and different backgrounds for a program which airs on WPGH Fox 53.
“Michael has been so instrumental in our productions and overall success that we are very excited to have him here full time,” said Carl Kurlander, Steeltown’s president & CEO. Bartley will lead Steeltown’s expanding television production and implement his keen knowledge of sponsorship and development for the organization.
“I not only love the work Steeltown is doing, I just fell in love with the organization and its strategic goals of advancing Pittsburgh’s entertainment, film, and television prominence, and particularly its work with young people” Mr. Bartley said.
Michael Bartley spent 17 years as a host and managing editor at WQED Multimedia before joining Steeltown. He also spent 15 years anchoring and reporting the news in Milwaukee, WI and Green Bay, WI. Michael is a native of Pittsburgh and lives in the house where he grew up in the city’s Greenfield Neighborhood. Mr. Bartley has won 14 regional Emmys for excellence in journalism, as well as an Edward R. Murrow Award, a Gabriel Award, The Bill Burns Media Award, and numerous Pittsburgh Press Club Golden Quill Awards, among other professional honors. Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney has called Michael’s storytelling “… a true asset to the Pittsburgh region.”
Michael is honored and gratified to share his production and development skills and prowess toSteeltown, where he says “creativity is thriving and growing and benefiting the greatest city in America!”