The Chair Trailer

The Chair Trailer

Click here to see the first trailer from “The Chair.”

Airing on the Starz Network Fall of 2014, this innovative 10-episode series follows dueling first-time directors — YouTube sensation Shane Dawson and writer/actor Anna Martemucci — making two different movies from the same script.  

“The Chair” is being produced by Chris Moore (“Good Will Hunting,” “American Pie,” “Project Greenlight”), Corey Moosa (“All is Lost,” “Margin Call”) and Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek”‘s Dr. Spock) in association with Steeltown Entertainment Project, PointPark University, and the Steeltown/WQED Incubator.

Important commercial projects like “The Chair” showcase Pittsburgh’s risng global reputation as a regional production center.

 

The Hollwood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly weigh in:

Get the Latest Scoop from Entertainment Weekly

 

Read more at The Huffington Post

Watch the producers on KDKA-TV

Go behind the scenes with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pop City Pittsburgh has the latest here

Youth & Media Program Helps Area Artist Reach Homewood’s Youth

Youth & Media Program Helps Area Artist Reach Homewood’s Youth

Vanessa German is the founder of ARThouse, a community art education initiative based in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. At the ARThouse, Vanessa, an internationally acclaimed sculptor and artist, welcomes neighborhood children, teaches them about art, and gives them the materials and the space for them to express themselves via art. The ARThouse started when some kids expressed interest in Vanessa’s work as she created artwork on her Homewood front porch. Since its inception in 2012, it has outgrown Vanessa’s porch, and even had outgrown the vacant Homewood house where the program began thriving. The program is ready to move into a new, larger space, this one with an attached vacant lot. The space would need a lot of work to make it safe for kids, and Vanessa is unaffiliated with any larger non-profit or funding source, so she knew it would take a lot of help to get the ARThouse on people’s radars and to secure funding. Steeltown’s Youth & Media program believed that the key to helping the ARThouse was telling the story, and they quickly agreed to help.

Encouraging the telling of stories is at the heart of the mission of Steeltown’s Youth & Media program, which is dedicated to inspiring and instructing teens to become content producers. The first step in telling the story of the ARThouse must be to turn the story into short video, so as to capture the sights, sounds, and most importantly the emotion that surrounds what goes on at the ARThouse. Our team went to interview Vanessa and capture raw footage of the ARThouse experience, showing what a blessing and a joy it has been to the kids of Homewood. We then undertook the careful task cutting, editing, and piecing together the footage to turn it into a story. (click here to watch the video)

The next step was creating a way for interested parties to contribute funds. An online crowd-funding site seemed to be the best way to help raise the money necessary to make the new home of ARThouse a reality. There are many crowd-funding options out there, but we decided to use Indiegogo, which has options that allow users to keep the funds raised even if they aren’t able to reach your fund-raising goal. This is important, because with the ARThouse, unlike with a for-profit company seeking an exact amount of funding, every little bit helps. The Indiegogo site also needed written content to help build it out and detail the way the funds would be used—plumbing, electricity, paint, flooring, windows, drywall, fencing, roofing. The site also provided a dedicated home for the video.

With the Indiegogo campaign live, we began receiving support from friends and social media followers, but we determined that it would take some working with local and regional news media to help share the story to an even broader audience. We reached out to news outlets who had shown an interest in Vanessa’s work in the past, who might be interested in a follow-up story. We also considered the broad news appeal of Vanessa and the ARThouse, spanning the arts, business, community, and education sectors, and targeted news outlets who would be interested in the story from any and every one of those angles. After this research, we tailored specific media pitches to targeted reporters and producers at news outlets across all of these categories, sending them the news release and additional details relevant to the nature of their coverage.

Our research and writing work ended up with a few significant placements, including one for KDKA-TV on Jon Delano’s “Sunday Business Page,” a weekly public affairs program that features individuals who are making a difference in the Pittsburgh region, and the world. We also received coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a section called “City Walkabout,” which focuses on beat writer Diana Nelson Jones’s coverage of Pittsburgh’s unique neighborhood. Both of these placements were more than just general news coverage—they are outlets that love to promote the good that is happening in Pittsburgh, and they have regular viewers and followers who are looking to these sources specifically to tell them about stories like Vanessa’s.

With the help of the video, the Indiegogo campaign, and the media placements, Vanessa German and the ARThouse have raised over $36,000 toward the purchase and renovation of the ARThouse’s new location. Although this particular campaign is closed, Vanessa is always looking for more funding to help. Click here to donate to the ARThouse, and stay tuned for future campaigns and opportunities to help.

 

Pull Up A Chair and Let's Talk About "The Chair"

Innovative financing models, industry connections, and talented workforce bringing TV and film projects to Pittsburgh’s rising regional production center

 Pick up a newspaper, browse a blog, or tune in to a TV station and you no doubt have been hearing a lot about “The Chair,” a new TV series which just wrapped in Pittsburgh, and which the country will experience when it debuts on Starz this fall for a 10-episode run.Proudly produced in association with Steeltown Entertainment Project, its premise is irresistible — two novice directors struggle to shoot separate films based on the same script. Their production journey is captured by documentary crews, the results of which will air while the movies themselves are nationally released. And in the best Vox Populi American entertainment tradition, viewers will choose the winner. 

Proudly produced in association with Steeltown Entertainment Project, its premise is irresistible — two novice directors struggle to shoot separate films based on the same script. Their production journey is captured by documentary crews, the results of which will air while the movies themselves are nationally released. And in the best Vox Populi American entertainment tradition, viewers will choose the winner. 

“The Chair” is the latest creative brain child of prolific producer Chris Moore (“American Pie,” Good Will Hunting,” “Project Greenlight”); the idea came about because at one point Mel Gibson was slated to direct “Good Will Hunting,” and Moore kept pondering how the movie would have turned out differently.

“I love documenting the process of storytelling from the inside,” says Moore.  “I love giving people a chance to direct their first movies.  The wish fulfillment and the story telling are exciting and educational and hopefully compelling content for folks — I hope to do one every year.”

The two directors, YouTube sensation Shane Dawson and writer, director, actress Anna Martemucci, will soon find themselves starring in this innovative series. But they’re not alone.

“The Chair” will also place Pittsburgh in the spotlight — up close and personal — as a regional production center and great place to shoot a movie; a welcome addition for a region that continues to rack up a string of notable film productions.

Moore considered several other cities for “The Chair” with Atlanta, Canada, and old standbys Los Angeles and New York City, vying to land this innovative project. It begs the larger question: Why Pittsburgh? How is southwest Pennsylvania taking advantage of the entertainment industry’s ongoing disruption in order to maintain and grow a sustainable industry?

Steeltown’s multi-faceted role in helping to bring “The Chair” to Pittsburgh — as investor, networker, and professional developer —  is a compelling case study in how regional economic development is practiced in the 21st century entertainment industry.

Three big takeaways: Innovative financing models, industry connections, and fostering a talented local workforce.

Innovative Financing Models

Nurturing any industry takes time, effort, and investment. The entertainment industry is no different.

Readers of a certain age will recall that beginning with popular legwarmer-clad “Flashdance” in the ‘80s, the hope and desire of economic development officials, regional planners, political leaders, and local creative and production professionals was that southwestern Pennsylvania would become a location of choice for producers and Hollywood’s decision-makers.

But hope and desire – and the oft-cited beauty of our landscape and our picturesque neighborhoods — get us only so far. A total of 40 states now offer attractive tax breaks (not to mention an aggressive Canadian film office) trying to lure film and TV production.

As DVD sales have all but evaporated, the successful financing models of only five years ago have been upended at the same time that technology  has made it possible to make films in a totally different way than was possible a decade ago. 

Smart regions, with Pittsburgh leading the charge, are adapting to compete and fill the void.

Realizing what a showcase “The Chair” could be for the region, Steeltown drove the fundraising effort by using profits it had earned from a previous project, its partnership in the WQED/Steeltown Incubator, as well as helping connect producers to Point Park University, government resources, and private investors.

Innovative financing models are something of a specialty for Steeltown, which is a pioneer in assembling disparate financial sources to land attractive entertainment projects.  The organization pursued a similar platform back in 2006 (a particularly fallow filmmaking period in the region) to attract R.L. Stine’s “The Haunting Hour.” Steeltown’s $800,000 investment (from sources public, philanthropic, and private) brought that production to Pittsburgh. It proved to be a savvy investment and one that has been fully recouped, enabling Steeltown to place strategic bets on new projects – such as “The Chair.” 

“This model is in the best tradition of our region’s successful history of public-private partnerships – Renaissance One, the Cultural District, and now 21st Century Steeltown — where we leverage public and philanthropic investment to attract significant private dollars,” says Carl Kurlander, CEO of Steeltown Entertainment Project

“It’s great that the government and non-profits really support filmmaking,” adds Moore.

Industry Connections

Steeltown’s impressive industry-heavyweight advisor roster of Pittsburgh natives, such as producer Bernie Goldmann (“The 300”) and directors Jamie Widdoes (“Two and a Half Men”), and Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides”) proved an incredible starting point for the non-profit, founded 10 years ago on the premise that the entertainment industry could become “the new steel”  for the region’s economy.

Successful networks, in any business, need to be nurtured and expanded through programming, events, and on-the ground experience. Steeltown’s commitment to growing an eco-system of Hollywood decision-makers continues to help introduce the region as an attractive and cost-friendly shooting location.

“The sinews and tendons of this industry are these important relationships fostered over many decades,” says Lisa Smith-Reed, Steeltown’s COO, Point Park University lecturer, and veteran of “Project Greenlight,” “The People Speak” and many others projects during her Hollywood years. “We can pick up the phone and get the meeting – yes, the money is still important – but our connections get us a seat at that table.”

In terms of “The Chair,” the case of Smith-Reed and Moore is an example of how Steeltown continues to connect.

Smith-Reed urged Moore to get involved with Steeltown’s popular Film Factory competition in 2011, in which he served on an expert judging panel with Goldmann and Lionsgate’s John Dellaverson. After shooting “Promised Land” here he became a vocal and vociferous champion of the region and its resources.

Three Carnegie Mellon University Drama School graduates, Corey Moosa, Neal Dodsen, and Zachary Quinto, are also involved in shooting “The Chair.”  Although Quinto is best known as Dr. Spock in the “Star Trek” franchise and on Broadway as Tom in “The Glass Managerie,” he and his partners also lead Before The Door productions (named after a drama school acting exercise). The company has developed a growing reputation for producing highly original films like “Margin Call” and “All is Lost.”

“Part of the appeal of “The Chair” was having an experienced producer like Chris alongside the Before The Door guys,” says Kurlander. “Steeltown has always believed in investing in talent nurtured in this town, and we are excited to be part of the first films they are producing in Pittsburgh.”

So connections matter. These critical connections extend to the talent and expertise of local institutions and universities. Point Park University’s vital participation as a producer and provider of passionate student talent to “The Chair” also leveraged Steeltown’s connection to the university’s academic and administrative leadership.

“This is a great mixture of people, places, and money to allow more experimental projects like “The Chair” to happen,” says Moore. “The film schools, particularly Point Park, are putting out quality young professionals.”

Talented Workforce

While financial incentives and connections are important , the final determinant of where films shoot is the quality of local crews. This community of entertainment professionals makes Pittsburgh competitive. The development of skilled craftspeople, technicians, and administrative personnel provide the vital human infrastructure required to build and maintain a sustainable industry.

Take Rob Long, one of the primary scenic and production designers for “The Chair.” The peripatetic and nationally-recognized theatrical lighting and scenic designer’s firm, Clear Story, is based on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

“For many years I was trying to get in the Steeltown orbit and branch out into TV and film design,” says Long, who seized his opportunity when he had the chance to design the Steeltown/WQED Incubator and Chris Moore produced live event ”The People Speak” with Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, and John Krasinski. 

Moore was impressed with Long’s set and lighting design, which was the beginning of a productive professional dialogue which led to “The Chair,” on which he is receiving co-producer credit.

“Locally, we’ve got the resources and the network to handle many more productions,” said Long.

Heidi Schlegel is another success story. The 2010 Point Park University graduate and former Steeltown intern cut her professional teeth producing last year’s winning Film Factory film, “My Date With Adam,” and was hired as a unit production manager on “The Chair” working on Dawson’s film. 

“I was responsible for finding and hiring all of our crew members, doing preproduction schedules, coordinating logistics, solving every crisis,” says Schlegel with a laugh.

Or consider the case of another talented Point Park University alum, Phoenix-native Jonathan Joseph. After graduating in 2008, he founded Pittsburgh-based Counting Sheep, a production company which quickly made a name for itself in shooting industrials and commercials in addition to short feature films.

Upon the recommendation of his former professors, he met with Moore in November and was hired as a line producer overseeing both films and the documentary crew.

“It’s great to see regional production centers becoming the big new thing,” says Joseph. “The job market here is really coming along and it’s great to see so many people employed on “The Chair” and other projects.”

Big budget productions and smaller projects like “The Chair” provide great professional opportunities, from producers to production accountants, and continues to show that that Pittsburgh possesses the workforce depth to handle any number of films and TV shows. 

The Future

“We used to say that Pittsburgh’s greatest export was no longer steel, but talent — which made literally billions of dollars for people in New York and L.A.,” says Kurlander.   “Due to the work of many, Pittsburgh is finally becoming that place which consistently attracts top talent.”

While the ultimate victor of “The Chair” won’t be determined until late 2014, when audiences vote for which film they prefer, one early winner is clear: The “Only in Pittsburgh” story with a happy ending for the region itself – a national platform polishing our reputation as one of the best places to produce entertainment.

Through growing and leveraging industry connections, creating innovative financial models, and aiding in the development of a world-class workforce, Steeltown continues to help Pittsburgh maintain and grow its significant competitive advantage as a world-class regional production center.

Steeltown-Produced Documentary On Polio Vaccine Discovery Premiers On The Smithsonian Channel

Steeltown-Produced Documentary On Polio Vaccine Discovery Premiers On The Smithsonian Channel

The untold story of the discovery of the polio vaccine has been 8-years in the making, but this Thursday, A Shot to Save the World will make its debut on the Smithsonian Channel. The film, which is produced by Steeltown’s own Carl Kurlander and longtime Steeltown adviser Laura Davis and directed by her husband Tjardus Gredianus, tells the underdog story of Dr. Jonas Salk and his team at University of Pittsburgh developing the world’s first polio vaccine and features a rare film interview with Bill Gates about his perspective on the significance of the Salk vaccine and today’s efforts from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, Rotary International and the World Health Organization to finish the job and make the world, once and for all, polio free.

“The goal of Steeltown’s involvement in the production of this documentary was to help bring out this real Pittsburgh story and to help it to be seen by people and help spread the message of advocacy around the world,” says Kurlander, who is also Steeltown’s CEO. “We believe that this story is representative of Pittsburgh and its propensity to change the world.”

Stephanie Dangel, former Board Chair of the Steeltown Entertainment Project, served as the executive producer of the film. “What fascinated me about this project was how courageous the children and their families were who participated as test subjects for the Polio vaccine,” Dangel said. “The children diagnosed with polio in the D.T. Watson house put their lives on the line to use their blood as a way for Salk to test the vaccine, but they never benefitted from it.”

Steeltown’s production manager, Kris Veenis served as co-producer on the film. He worked tirelessly to acquire never before seen archival footage of this monumental event. Because of Steeltown’s deep roots in Pittsburgh, the producers were able to interview those who worked in the Salk lab, such as senior scientist Julius Youngner, and those Pittsburghers were among the first to test the then experimental polio vaccine. 
The documentary captures the story of how Salk and his team worked on their controversial “killed virus” vaccine in a tiny basement lab, three floors below a polio ward filled with kids in iron lungs. His work was privately funded, literally dime by dime, through the “Mother’s March” of the March of Dimes as well as by local philanthropist.

It was an unprecedented public campaign and a seven-year battle against medical orthodoxy and the virulent spread of a terrifying disease in America which kept parents from sending their children to the swimming pools, the movie theaters, or even to birthday parties for fear they would catch the polio virus and end up in a dreaded iron lung.

“I first discovered this story at a dinner where Dr. Sidney Busis mentioned to me that he was doing trachiothomies on iron lung patients who were sometimes as young as two years old at Pittsburgh’s municipal hospital. Then Dr. Busis’ wife Silvia mentioned that at the end of his 18 hour days, he would come home and his young children would hug their father, and she realized they could end up with polio for which there was no cure. From the Busis family to Salk’s team who tested the experimental vaccine on themselves, to the 7500 Pittsburgh school children who were part of the first polio vaccine pioneers to offer their arms, Pittsburghers played a truly heroic role in this effort which changed the world,” says Kurlander who first harvested this footage with Pitt students during the 50th anniversary of the Salk polio vaccine.

It was then that Kurlander and Steeltown’s Stephanie Dangel enlisted the help of Laura Davis, whose father was a doctor in Squirrel Hill, but who has produced many behind the scenes documentaries for directors like Cameron Crowe, Michael Mann, and Martin Scorcese, and her husband Tjardus Gredianus who had written and directed Steeltown’s first short Pittsburgh: Hollywood’s Best Kept Secret. Raising funds from the Pittsburgh community and in cooperation with WQED and the University of Pittsburgh, Steeltown completed a 66 minute version of the film called The Shot Felt Round The World that screened at the FDR Museum and Library, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and won Best Documentary last year at the San Luis Obisbo Film Festival. It was then picked up for television by the Smithsonian Channel which has re-edited the film to a one-hour TV program.

Kurlander spent Valentine’s Day this year in Seattle with Smithsonian Channel producer Charles Poe interviewing Bill Gates for the film, talking about what was needed back in the 1950s to develop the Salk vaccine and what is being required today to fight polio. In the film, Bill Gates talks about both how an iron lung worked back then, but also how they have had to use GPS tracking system to help make sure vaccines got delivered where they needed to be today. What was remarkable, Kurlanders says, was how Bill seems to be using all he learned in building his company Microsoft and scaling products there and applying that to global health and trying to end childhood diseases, starting with polio.

In the documentary, Bill. Gates emphasizes the fact that smallpox is, in fact, the only disease completely eradicated from the world, and that while there are only about 250 known cases of polio remaining in the world, there is still more to be done to totally defeat the disease and boost the world’s infrastructure and ultimately turn the world’s eyes to other global health issues.

A Shot to Save the World describes not only the struggle to create the Salk vaccine, but its extraordinary success. Five decades ago, polio was an American scourge. Polio was rampant in 125 endemic countries in 1988. Today it exists in just three; Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, but the final stretch is often the hardest in these battles. Groups like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, which has raised more than $1 billion in a grass-roots campaign, the World Health Organization and Unicef are not ready to quit until the disease is finally eradicated.

As exciting as it is that the world will now see this great Pittsburgh story, Kurlander still sees the importance of this achievement for the city itself.

“It should be remembered that Jonas Salk came to Pittsburgh at a time when people saw this town only as a steel manufacturer. It was the vision of city leaders to bring him here as part of developing a then modest medical sector. Today of course, Pittsburgh is renowned for its achievements in medicine. We are hoping that this film will remind people of what is possible and what we can accomplish when we all work together,” Kurlander said.

Click here to see a trailer and find out the Smithsonian channel on your cable system. Be sure to tune in to the Smithsonian Channel at 8 p.m. on Thursday to see the harrowing story of how the world was forever changed on April 12, 1955, when Salk’s vaccine was declared “safe, potent, and effective,” giving victory over a disease that until then had ravaged the United States.

Steeltown Film Factory Event on March 15

Good Will Hunting” and “American Pie” producer Chris Moore and “All is Lost” producer Corey Moosa will help usher in a new type of Steeltown Film Factory at Carnegie Mellon on March 15.  Moore and Moosa are currently in Pittsburgh as part of “The Chair,” a new television series which follows dueling first-time feature directors, internet phenom Shane Dawson, and “Break Up at The Wedding” co-screenwriter Anna Martemucci, as they simultaneously make the same movie.   Steeltown, a co-producer of the series along with Point Park and the WQED/Steeltown Incubator, has played a leading role in helping bring “The Chair” to Pittsburgh. It was coming back for the Film Factory over the past several years that help lead Moore, who many will recognize as the co-star of HBO’s “Project Greenlight” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, to decide that Pittsburgh would be the ideal location for his new series.  

“Pittsburgh is becoming one of the top regional production centers in the country,’ says Moore, who most recently produced “Promised Land” here. “I am a big believer in this city and I have seen, through my interactions with Steeltown, just how much talent and unique resources there are here.   The Film Factory has also proven a great way for people to break into this business, as evidence by how many people we are using on the show who got their start on Film Factory movies.”  

One such person is Heidi Schlegel, a Point Park University graduate who first interned at with Steeltown and then produced 2013 Steeltown Film Factory winning short film “My Date with Adam.” Schlegel is now the production manager for the “Untitled Shane Dawson Comedy,” one of the two films featured in “The Chair.” “Steeltown Film Factory was a one of a kind experience because they made sure each event they hosted was special by bringing in an influential role model from Hollywood,” said Schlegel. “I learned more in those short 3 months as an intern than any textbook could have ever taught me.  I use the skills I learned as an intern and as a Producer for ‘My Date with Adam’ every single day I am on set. I can’t thank Steeltown enough for taking the time to help shape me into the professional I am today.”

Another such individual is Rebecca Markuson, who also worked on “My Date with Adam” and is now working in the art department for “The Chair.” “I’m excited to be working on The Chair and am glad Steeltown has been able to provide some of these opportunities for growth within the film industry in Pittsburgh,” says Markuson. “The members of film community in this city are incredibly hard working and have been inspiring to me as a fresh young filmmaker. These friends and chances to grow and learn within this community are what keep me in this city and I consider myself very lucky to have landed here at just the right time to really grow with the industry.”

On March 15, Steeltown will unveil a new aspect of the Film Factory which will create even more opportunity for Pittsburgh’s independent film community here.   The top twenty films chosen from over 190 entries in this year’s Film Factory will have the opportunity to receive a matching grant of up to $500 toward the crowdfunding of their short films.  Steeltown will also host these top 20 scripts and corresponding crowdfunding reels on the new Community Showcase section of the Steeltown website.  And all entries in the Film Factory will be eligible for a special prize to be given away on March 15. 

“We hope this new ‘Community Showcase’ will lead to 20 short films being made in Pittsburgh over the next year.  What we realized was that the real winners of the Film Factory over these years was not just those who got the prize money, but the hundreds of people who have gotten to work on the projects which got their start through this competition,” says Steeltown President Carl Kurlander.  “We want to make sure that Steeltown and its programs like the Film Factory and the Spotlight Series becomes even more of a pathway for people to break into this growing industry here in Pittsburgh, and have them work on bigger projects like “The Chair” and features and TV shows that come to town.”

As always, March 15 will also feature the top five Film Factory finalists competing for up to $30,000 in prize money as they pitch their ideas to Moore and Moosa, affording audiences a rare look at how one really gets a project to move forward in the fllm business.   Those five will then re-write their scripts and 3 will be chosen to present their scripts at Point Park University as part of the Women In Film International Summit taking place in Pittsburgh May 16-18.   

 

Tickets for to the March 15 Film Factory are available to reserve now. Click here.

Steeltown Film Factory Event

Steeltown Film Factory Event

Good Will Hunting” and “American Pie” producer Chris Moore and “All is Lost” producer Corey Moosa will help usher in a new type of Steeltown Film Factory at Carnegie Mellon on March 15.  Moore and Moosa are currently in Pittsburgh as part of “The Chair,” a new television series which follows dueling first-time feature directors, internet phenom Shane Dawson, and “Break Up at The Wedding” co-screenwriter Anna Martemucci, as they simultaneously make the same movie.   Steeltown, a co-producer of the series along with Point Park and the WQED/Steeltown Incubator, has played a leading role in helping bring “The Chair” to Pittsburgh. It was coming back for the Film Factory over the past several years that help lead Moore, who many will recognize as the co-star of HBO’s “Project Greenlight” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, to decide that Pittsburgh would be the ideal location for his new series.  

“Pittsburgh is becoming one of the top regional production centers in the country,’ says Moore, who most recently produced “Promised Land” here. “I am a big believer in this city and I have seen, through my interactions with Steeltown, just how much talent and unique resources there are here.   The Film Factory has also proven a great way for people to break into this business, as evidence by how many people we are using on the show who got their start on Film Factory movies.”  

One such person is Heidi Schlegel, a Point Park University graduate who first interned at with Steeltown and then produced 2013 Steeltown Film Factory winning short film “My Date with Adam.” Schlegel is now the production manager for the “Untitled Shane Dawson Comedy,” one of the two films featured in “The Chair.” “Steeltown Film Factory was a one of a kind experience because they made sure each event they hosted was special by bringing in an influential role model from Hollywood,” said Schlegel. “I learned more in those short 3 months as an intern than any textbook could have ever taught me.  I use the skills I learned as an intern and as a Producer for ‘My Date with Adam’ every single day I am on set. I can’t thank Steeltown enough for taking the time to help shape me into the professional I am today.”

Another such individual is Rebecca Markuson, who also worked on “My Date with Adam” and is now working in the art department for “The Chair.” “I’m excited to be working on The Chair and am glad Steeltown has been able to provide some of these opportunities for growth within the film industry in Pittsburgh,” says Markuson. “The members of film community in this city are incredibly hard working and have been inspiring to me as a fresh young filmmaker. These friends and chances to grow and learn within this community are what keep me in this city and I consider myself very lucky to have landed here at just the right time to really grow with the industry.”

On March 15, Steeltown will unveil a new aspect of the Film Factory which will create even more opportunity for Pittsburgh’s independent film community here.   The top twenty films chosen from over 190 entries in this year’s Film Factory will have the opportunity to receive a matching grant of up to $500 toward the crowdfunding of their short films.  Steeltown will also host these top 20 scripts and corresponding crowdfunding reels on the new Community Showcase section of the Steeltown website.  And all entries in the Film Factory will be eligible for a special prize to be given away on March 15. 

“We hope this new ‘Community Showcase’ will lead to 20 short films being made in Pittsburgh over the next year.  What we realized was that the real winners of the Film Factory over these years was not just those who got the prize money, but the hundreds of people who have gotten to work on the projects which got their start through this competition,” says Steeltown President Carl Kurlander.  “We want to make sure that Steeltown and its programs like the Film Factory and the Spotlight Series becomes even more of a pathway for people to break into this growing industry here in Pittsburgh, and have them work on bigger projects like “The Chair” and features and TV shows that come to town.”

As always, March 15 will also feature the top five Film Factory finalists competing for up to $30,000 in prize money as they pitch their ideas to Moore and Moosa, affording audiences a rare look at how one really gets a project to move forward in the fllm business.   Those five will then re-write their scripts and 3 will be chosen to present their scripts at Point Park University as part of the Women In Film International Summit taking place in Pittsburgh May 16-18.   

Tickets for to the March 15 Film Factory are available to reserve now. Click here.