Pittsburgh Goes Hollywood the Entertainment Industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania Has Boundless Possibilities

By Kurlander, Carl | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), July 7, 2013 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh Goes Hollywood the Entertainment Industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania Has Boundless Possibilities


Kurlander, Carl, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


If I were to describe for you a city whose name had become synonymous with the manufacturing of a certain product but then, abruptly, because of technological advances and economic incentives provided elsewhere, was humbled by a creative disruption that seemed to change everything, what city would you think of?

Pittsburgh and the steel industry?

Or maybe Hollywood and the film business over the past few years.

Ironically, while Pennsylvania legislators recently debated whether to uncap the state's $60 million annual limit on film tax credits (they didn't), in Los Angeles Steven Spielberg predicted the imminent "implosion" of the Hollywood film industry and TV and film producers at the annual Producers Guild of America conference lamented the demise of the Hollywood-based entertainment business. Even the Los Angeles Times chimed in with coverage that included the headline "Gold Rush Out of L.A. In Search of Tax Credits," with a lead sentence that read, "Californians, beware: Film producers are increasingly sizing up rivals in emerging regional production centers outside of Hollywood, from Pittsburgh to Atlanta."

I must confess some complicity in the Times story, having moderated a panel at the Producers Guild's conference entitled "Beyond Hollywood: The Promise Of Regional Production Centers," using my hometown of Pittsburgh as an example. With Lionsgate producer John Dellaverson, "300" producer Bernie Goldmann and "American Pie" and "Promised Land" producer Chris Moore, we described how southwestern Pennsylvania not only had attracted films like "Dark Knight Rises," "Jack Reacher," "Promised Land" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," but also is becoming an emerging player in the entertainment industry by developing innovative models for co-financing film and TV shows and growing its own talent pool.

Rapid changes in technology and new platforms such as Netflix and others also have had an impact. But while Hollywood always has struggled with technological changes, now we are living in an age of opportunity in which the means of making films have never been more democratic and the consumption of media is at an all-time high.

On our panel we explained how this is playing out in southwestern Pennsylvania.

For example, "Blood Brother," the winner of the Grand Jury and Audience awards at Sundance Film Festival, was made on a shoestring budget by two young documentary filmmakers in Pittsburgh. Chris Preksta's Web series, "Pittsburgh Dad," has attracted more than 10 million views and is shot entirely on his iPhone. Emmy Award- winning producer Bob Kusbit is working on "Pittsburgh's Next Reality Star" with the WQED-Steeltown Incubator, which will give southwestern Pennsylvania part ownership in the show and any intellectual property that arises from it. …

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