Six Degrees of Pittsburgh
You really have to say at this point, that there is something in the water here, or that perhaps the Mayans were right about everything converging in Pittsburgh in 2012. As the 2013 Sundance Film Festival line-up is announced you will find two great Pittsburgh stories at least that I know of, that are represented.
A few years back, I was visiting the offices of the very talented folks at Animal, one of Pittsburgh's finest production houses run by Michael Killen, who himself moved back here from L.A. (Though Animal is known for their amazing work in commercials bringing things like the Taco Bell dog to life, they do so much more.) Anyway, as I was meeting with Michael, he introduced me to a couple of young men, Steve Hoover and Danny Yord, who looked just out of college and who casually told me they were headed to India to make a little documentary abot their friend Rocky. Out came the seeming amazing story of how Rocky had been a student at the Art Institute and now was working in the orphanage in India with children who had AIDS. It is a story that sounded compelling, but as I watched them lug bags and equipment as they headed towards the airport, little could prepare me, for the final film which I saw in rough cut and which was truly moving and surprising and funny and sad, and was just wonderful.
You can get a sense of "Blood Brother" which was just accepted into the 2013 Sudance Film Festival at:
There is of course at least one other Pittsburgh connection to Sundance, and that is "The Lifeguard" starring Kristen Bell, a film set elsewhere, but produced here by Pittsburgh's own Mike Dolan with Liz Garcia directing who sounded like a passionate Pittsburgher by the time she finished shooting here.
And then this week, I have been visited by Steeltown's first intern, Tom Pelligrini, who has gone on to have a couple of movies he produced in Sundance, and who most recently produced the critically acclaimed "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" which was picked up by Magnolia (owned by Pittsburgh's own Mark Cuban), and which has been burning up at Itunes and Netflix these days.
And amidst all this of course is news that Stephen Chbosky, one of the nicest and most talented guys ever to come out of Pittsburgh, who achieved the almost impossible feat of writing an amazing novel, "Perks of a Wallflower", and turning it into an equally amazing film which he wrote and directed and shot right here, which is nominated for a Spirit Award (which we are sure is just the beginning.)
Sure, the talent will be flocking to Salk Lake City for Sundance this January, but at least a few of them will be getting on a plane from Pittsburgh.
* * *
If you are a Pittsburgher who has your own dreams of making a movie, please come to Monday December 3rd to a Free Screenwriting Special Event for the Steeltown Film Factory at the University of Pittsburgh at 6 p.m. in Room 501. You can learn all you need to know to enter the 4th annual Steeltown Film Factory where you could win up to $30,000 and a trip to Hollywood for a 12 page script that just has to be shot in Pittsburgh. (See www.steeltownfilmfactory.org)