The Steeltown Entertainment Project was co-founded in 2003 by Hollywood heavy hitters with a soft spot for Pittsburgh and a vision to put us on the entertainment industry map. The collaboration was inspired by an op-ed Carl Kurlander wrote called Pittsburgh’s Next Industrial Revolution: Entertainment that caught the attention of Ellen Weiss Kander and Maxine Lapiduss. Their vision has confirmed the fact that Pittsburgh has what it takes to be a world-class player in the entertainment industry. They are an incubator for innovative productions that invest in nurturing talent and creativity along with telling great stories.
As this exciting year winds down it is with great pride that I announce a string of awards for the Steeltown team. The documentary A Shot To Save The World has won a prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. The film tells the story of how Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh developed the first polio vaccine. It continues to play on the Smithsonian Channel reminding the world of what is possible when we all work together.
You will also want to tune in on January 20 for the premiere of PBS’s Independent Lens spotlight on Blood Brother about Pittsburgher Rocky Braat who moved to India to make a difference in the lives of young orphans with HIV. The film is directed by Pittsburgher Steve Hoover and produced by Danny Yourd and longtime Steeltown Film Factory advisers Michael Killen and Kathy Dziubek of Animal. It won the IDA Humanitas Award this month and the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance last year.
Sundance had a few other Pittsburgh connections this year that include an intriguing new documentary about Pittsburgh Pirate Dock Ellis who claimed to pitch a no-hitter on LSD called No, No, A Dokumentary. The film explores Dock’s story well beyond baseball to explore who he was while dealing with issues of civil rights and addiction. You can learn more about the film and contribute to its tax-deductible crowdfunding campaign here. The crime drama Cold In July starring Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall will also make its premiere at Sundance and was edited by Pitt alumnus and longtime Steeltown friend John Paul Horstmann. Carnegie Mellon will also be representing Pittsburgh at Sundance by hosting a New Frontier Party.
Steeltown Spotlight Series Lauren Morelli is nominated for the WGA Award for her Best Comedy Series and Best New Series for work on Orange Is The New Black. CMU alumnus Sean Hiader is also nominated for her “Orange” script as well as longtime Steeltown friend Jenji Kohan who created and is the showrunner of the series. On February 5 they will kick off the 2014 Spotlight Series by welcoming Saturday Night Live director Don Roy King who won his third Emmy this year for a career inspired by a trip he took from Monroeville to Broadway in eighth grade.
The list of Pittsburgh/Hollywood connections is long and impressive. Look twice when you cross that next street corner since you may be inches away from a famous encounter.