Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Steeltown Film Factory Script Competition Kickoff

Over the last few years, the kickoff for the Steeltown Film Factory Script Competition has gone from an informal meeting to an event at the Regent Square Cinema where this year's winner was shown. This year's winter was a charming script called "My Date with Adam," a science fictional rom com.

If you're interested in entering a short script, read the rules and write a script. The early bird deadline is 12/15.

In addition to talking to other finalists from this year, Carl Kurlander mentioned two upcoming feature films that will be shot here in the not too distant future:

  • The Last Witch Hunter, starring Vin Diesel
  • The Chair, a project being developed by producer Chris Moore

Friday, November 1, 2013

Why Science Fiction Movie Fans Should Go See Ender's Game

I don't like homophobes. I've marched with gay people multiple times and have been helping to fight for marriage equity.

So why in the world will I be going to see Ender's Game on opening night? It was written by Orson Scott Card who's become quite anti-Muslim, anti-gay and who's fighting gay marriage.

But, as a younger writer, Card wrote movingly about tolerance and acceptance of all kinds, in several books including Ender's Game. Many readers remembered this, and one of them, Rany Jazayerli, wrote a terrific essay on how important the book Ender's Game was to him while growing up.

I completely agree with the article. That's an awful lot that Orson Scott Card, the writer, used to understand about tolerance that he's completely lost sight of as he's gotten older.

I really enjoyed the book, have read generally good reviews of the movie and will go tonight. Normally, I do boycott homophobic movies/TV shows, but while Ender's Game was written by a homophobe the theme of the book is anything but (and the movie apparently shares this quality). As a movie fan, I want to support good science fiction movies, in hopes of seeing more movies like Gravity or Ender's Game and fewer movies starring comic book heroes or supernatural horror.

I will make a donation to a LBGTQ charity today to acknowledge OSC's homophobia. This idea came from a friend and it's spot-on. I went to Charity Navigator (which ranks charities) and gave $30 to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and said the donation was made because "Orson Scott Card's homophobia raised this money."


I've seen Ender's Game, generally liked it and would give it a 7 on the IMDB scale.

I hadn't read Ender's Game in about 25 years so seeing the movie was fascinating. In many ways, the movie felt more like a post-9/11 movie given the societal paranoia the movie makes clear (and seeing the movie made me remember the book much more clearly). While the movie is flawed (Harrison Ford's part was both written and acted oddly), it's definitely worth seeing. Asa Butterworth as Ender was excellent and the effects are very, very good. People who want the movie to do badly at the box office are making a point that it's a bad movie, which it is not.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Point Park University's Oklahoma and Shirley Jones

I normally keep this blog focused on issues around movies and movie casting, but want to diverge from that a little bit and talk mostly about a classic American musical. Oklahoma is currently being performed by Point Park University's Conservatory Theatre Company at the Pittsburgh Playhouse through October 27th. It's an excellent production, with strong singers and inventive set design. Well, it seemed inventive to me as I'd never seen a live production of Oklahoma before last night. Perhaps it's the same production design they've done since the 1940s, but it looked inventive to me.

Among the singers, Kirsten Lynn Hoover (Laurey) and Jorie Ann Kosel (Ado Annie) were particularly noteworthy, but all of them were very good.

I heard about this production a few weeks ago, when Patrick Cassidy (the director) was on Essential Pittsburgh with his mother, Shirley Jones. Jones was from the Pittsburgh area and used to attend a summer high school program at Point Park before she became the quintessential Rogers & Hammerstein musical star of the '50s. Between never having seen Oklahoma live and hearing that Jones was coming to opening night, I bought a ticket (and one advantage of going to this play alone - I got a single seat in the second row). I grew up on musicals - my mom's favorite song to sing around the house when I was very little was "People Would Say We're In Love" (and, in those days, Mom's voice was similar to Shirley Jones'). Mom and Dad also collected albums of musicals, so I knew the music to the movie of Oklahoma cold from the time I was about eight. So it was beyond cool to see Jones come on stage after the show and talk about how thrilled she was about the production.

Even on the future nights when Shirley Jones isn't in the audience, seeing this stage production of Oklahoma is definitely worth your while.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Senator Dominic Pileggi Introduces an Uncapped Film Tax Credit Bill!

Senator Pileggi tweeted today:

#PASenate Finance Cmte, chaired by @SenatorBrubaker, approved my SB1035 to #UncapPA Film Tax Credit. Video & info: http://finance.pasenategop.com/2013/10/02/senate-bills-703-704-1035/

So the good news is that Senate Bill 1035 has passed an initial committee vote, and will be voted on by the full Senate later.

Write to your state senator and encourage him or her to vote for SB 1035 to bring more jobs and movie money to Pennsylvania.

10/3 addition: While the bill has passed the Finance Committee, it still needs to be voted on by the Appropriations Committee before it can go to the Senate, and it has to pass in the Senate before it can move on to the House. The Finance Committee members who voted for uncapping the film tax credit were Blake, Browne, Greenleaf, Hutchinson, Smith, Tepletz, Wozniak, Brukabker & Scarnati and the senators voting against it were Vance and Eichelberger. If your Senator voted for it, drop him or her a note to say "Thanks!"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Correction: Vin Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter IS Coming to Pittsburgh

On 9/27, I published this after having a disagreement with a local movie worker about whether or not The Last Witch Hunter was filming in Pittsburgh or somewhere else:


People hope and plan for movies to be shot in the Pittsburgh area, but that does not always come to pass.

Take Frank or Francis or the YA movie Glimmer. Both rumored to shoot here. But it looks like neither is coming this way.

So the next major movie rumored to be coming to Pittsburgh but is not (at least not in any big way) is Vin Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter. This movie just got a pile of money to be shot in Canada, so it will be shot in Canada.

It's too bad, but movies will always follow the money...err, tax credits. It doesn't matter how experienced the crews are, how willing the extras are, how many different kinds of locations can be shot in a fairly small geographic area. The only thing that matters is who's giving out the tax credits.


Well, I goofed. The article I linked to said that movie deals had been made in Toronto (at the Toronto International Film Festival), not that movie deals had been made to shoot in Toronto. Today, the Pittsburgh Business Times had a article saying that The Last Witch Hunter is expected to film in the Pittsburgh area early next year.

So it would be great to see a major movie shot in Pittsburgh next year, and it sounds like The Last Witch Hunter will be. My sincere apologies, I hate publishing incorrect information.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Foxcatcher Pushed Back to 2014, Teaser Trailer Is Out

So, there's good Foxcatcher news - the teaser trailer is finally out.

It looks and sounds great!

But, for those of us on the impatient side, there's bad news too - it's been pushed back to 2014.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Extra Casting Call for The Fault in Our Stars - 9/26 & 10/8

The Fault in Our Stars, based on the best-selling YA book, is currently shooting in the Pittsburgh area. If you have the time and a car, they need extras. You must be completely available on Tuesday, September 26 & Wednesday, October 8 for 12-14 hour days. You also must have a car. Pay is minimum wage for the first 8 hours and time and a half after that.

If interested and available on both dates, submit a recent photo of yourself as well as your name, age, phone number and car color, make and model to tfios.casting@gmail.com. They will contact you if you are picked.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Movie/TV Business Back in the 'Burgh

Tis the season - those familiar white trucks, extra lights and road closures can only mean one thing - the movies are back in the 'Burgh. There are at least two major projects currently filming:

  • Those Who Kill, a TV series being shot for A&E starring ChloĆ« Sevigny & James D'Arcy
  • The Fault in Our Stars, a movie based on a popular YA book starring Shailene Woodley & Ansel Elgort

Mosser Casting is handling extra casting for both productions.

Later in the fall, we understand the second of two movies about Nikolas Tesla will be shot in the Pittsburgh area.

Over the summer, a number of us worked on ultra-low budget, local projects like The Other Side, an interesting take on zombies.

This fall, two movies shot last year, Out of the Furnace and Foxcatcher will be making their debuts.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Write Your State Senator/Representative About Extending the Film Tax Credit

If you do any professional film/TV work, it's been a very quiet time in Pennsylvania. I worked on some interesting but ultra-ultra low budget projects in Ohio (meaning - lunch provided) and a day for pay on Veep in Maryland (the episode "Running" which will be on HBO on June 16 - I play a race spectator). This is mostly because the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit ran out months ago. Despite the fact we have great locations, crews and extras, Hollywood projects rarely come our way without a film tax credit.

State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is in the process of getting co-sponsors for a bill to uncap the PA Film Tax Credit, which could help bring film/TV projects back to Pennsylvania. More film projects mean more rental dollars, more hotel dollars, more salary dollars and more tax dollars to the state. The film tax credit makes money for Pennsylvania and for Pennsylvanians.

Ask your State Senator to be a sponsor of this bill. Help bring film work back to Pennsylvania again.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pittsburgh-Filmed Movie to Be on ABC Family in April

A few years ago, ABC Family shot a musical in Pittsburgh called Elixir starring Jane Seymour. Now renamed Lovestruck: The Musical, it will be on TV on April 21. Click this link for a short teaser trailer.

Steeltown Film Factory Script Competition Events

The Steeltown script competition has three events over the next three months:

  • March 23: The Writer's Pitch, University of Pittsburgh
  • April 21: The Director's Pitch, Point Park University
  • May TBD: And the Winner Is..., Carnegie Mellon University

Check the Steeltown Film Factory site for more information and to buy tickets for these events.

These annual events are a fascinating way to watch the development of a short film, from the writer's initial script through funding for production.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lend a Hand to Hollywood Theater

Dormont's Hollywood Theater has been trying to raise money to buy a digital projector. Hollywood Theater is the home repertory cinema and many unique screenings and events. For the Hollywood Theater to be able to remain viable in the future, it needs a digital projector to be able to show current or future films. Please make a donation to Hollywood Theater's Indiegogo fundraiser.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Look at the Oscars 2013

Perks Wins an Independent Spirit Award!

Pittsburgh's own Stephen Chbosky took the "Best First Film" Independent Spirit Award for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Complete winners list.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hollywood Theater Oscar Party - 2/24, 6:30pm-

I love Oscar parties.

That is, I love them when I can watch the show.

Over 20 years ago, I went to an Oscar party at a bar with a big screen in Worcester, MA. Got my Dad to go along. It was the year that Silence of the Lambs won a bunch of Oscars, and Billy Crystal came onstage as Hannial Lector, mask, restraints and all.

In 2004, I went to an Oscar party in Hollywood itself (only about a mile away from the then Kodak Theater) to join about 1,000 Lord of the Rings fans to celebrate the many nominations for Return of the King. That turned out to be the loudest Oscar party ever, when ROTK won all the Oscars for which it was nominated.

In 2012, I bought a ticket for "Lights, Camera, Oscar," an annual gala fundraiser for the Pittsburgh Film Office. While this party was a great idea in principle, it's a horrible party for the true Oscar fans. You couldn't sit down and watch the show. Once I realized that, I went home and got back in time to watch the whole show.

So, this year, I was pretty sure I was going to stay home and watch the show, but just found the Hollywood Theater in Dormont is having my kind of Oscar party - watching the Oscars on a big screen with movie fans. So I've bought my ticket and I'm going.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Amazing Racer (formerly Shannon's Rainbow) Premiered in Pittsburgh

KDKA reports Amazing Racer recently premiered at the Waterfront. It's now available on DVD. It was filmed in Western Pennsylvania in early 2008.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Perks of Being a Wallflower Nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award

Perks of Being a Wallflower was been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America. Pittsburgh native Stephen Chbosky wrote the novel, adapted the screenplay, and directed one of the best movies of 2012. Perks was shot in the Pittsburgh area in 2011.