Steeltown Film Factory provides oulet for local talent
According to Carl Kurlander, executive producer of Steeltown Entertainment Project and producer of Saved By The Bell, “[Pittsburgh’s] greatest export isn’t steel; it’s talent.” As a response to the lack of outlets available for local talent, Kurlander and fellow panelists Asher Garfinkel, president of Readers Unlimited; Bernie Goldmann, producer of 300; Laura Harkcom, writer and producer of The Lost Room; and Minnette Seate, senior producer of WQED Multimedia came together with Steeltown Entertainment’s Film Factory to host a contest called “Scripted Readings: Does the Story Work” that would help alleviate this problem. This project allowed aspiring screenwriters in Pittsburgh to pitch screenplays for potential movies to some of Hollywood’s best producers, with a chance of winning $25,000 to turn their scripts into movies. Ten semi-finalists were chosen to have their scripts performed in front of a live audience.
Twelve sophomores from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama presented these scripts in front of an intimate audience and collection of judges last Saturday. Two members of the cast, Alex Rice and Annie Heise, both sophomore acting majors, agreed that “it was a great opportunity,” because usually only juniors and seniors perform in Carnegie Mellon drama productions.
Judges remarked on the diversity among submissions. However, each script contained common underlying elements specific to the Pittsburgh area. Adriana Ramirez, a visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, took a darker tone in her screenplay N’At, stating that “[in Pittsburgh] the winter, like the metal, is cold and hard.”
Ramirez’s script was a favorite, according to Heise. “[It was] funny, creative, and very real,” Heise said.
After this event, contestants will be given time to rewrite their screenplays. One final winner will earn the $25,000 prize and have the chance to turn their scripts into a movie. The finished production will preview at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Film Festival next year.