The Reel Teens Take on Pittsburgh’s Entertainment Industry

Dear Friends of Steeltown,

I’m so excited to share The Reel Teens‘ entertainment episode with you.

Our teens meet some of the extraordinary people involved in Pittsburgh’s growing entertainment industry. In the episode, the teens:
  • go behind the scenes with Downward Dog creator Michael Killen,
  • visit the old Westinghouse Research Facility to interview Donora native and “Ghost Whisperer” producer Kim Moses who is in town flming her new series for ABC,
  • get a glimpse of Steeltown’s first Film Lab and see the production of the community teaching film The Rehabilitation of the Hilland
  • create particularly funny and moving piece of this year’s Elly Awards including one of the last public appearances by director George Romero.  
While all of these people and stories are inspiring, the real stars of the show are the teens themselves, who continue to do the impossible– producing, directing and hosting a high quality, entertaining half hour of television. These teens reminds us all why Pittsburgh is such a special place. 
One particular poignant story featured in this episode is our own Haji Muya, who was recently profiled by the Post Gazette. We met Haji, a Somalian refugee, through our Youth and Media program ten years ago. This year, he worked as the assistant cameraman on The Rehabilitation of The Hill. Today, Haji gives back himself as a teaching artists who works with our teens.   
This episode of The Reel Teens: Pittsburgh is as good as many network television shows produced with millions of dollars.  While we don’t have a marketing budget to match the networks, we know we can get the word out with your help. Please tell your friends and share on social media, especially with anyone passionate about Pittsburgh and the entertainment industry. 
Carl Kurlander 

Our Students Super Productive Summer

Wow. Our Summer Intensive students shined this year.

Check out our students impressing Point Park Assistant Vice President, George “Fritz” Kiersch.

Our students impressed us so much this summer. These kids from different backgrounds and experience came together to create 8 client videos and filmed an entire episode of The Reel Teens: Pittsburgh – all in 6 weeks time.

They explored and honed new skills in addition to adding their own creative flair to their projects. Their homage to Batman for 412 Food Rescue killed it. Their professionalism while working for Earthen Vessels Outreach impressed their mentors and the client. Their dedication to teamwork and growth showed that the future generation of media makers in Pittsburgh has a bright future. 

Some of the girls in our Summer Intensive meeting Kim Moses.


But, what would summer be without a little fun?

Our students got to have some fun, too. They visited the set of NBC’s new show, “Gone,” and met renowned producer and Donora native, Kim Moses. They played some video games. And on their last day, they got the chance to learn some stunt secrets from Steel Legion Stunts. Hi-ya!

Stay tuned because our students will be back to work in September.

We’re excited to have our students returning in September. We can’t wait to share more of their work with you. While you wait, check out some episodes of The Reel Teens and follow us on Facebook to learn more about what we’re doing in the meantime.

6 Songs That Showcase Music in Pittsburgh Movies

The perfect song. The perfect lyric. The perfect score. Music can make or break a movie.

Of course, Pittsburgh makes a great setting for a film. Adding the right music can make miracles happen. We’ve found 6 great examples of how music impacted from films made right here in Pittsburgh.

1. A Hero in The Perks of Being a Wallflower

There’s nothing quite like the view of Pittsburgh upon exiting the Fort Pitt Tunnels. Seems like writer and director, Stephen Chbosky, figured out the way to capture that feeling with one special song – David Bowie’s “Heroes.” The special pairing of this Bowie classic and the Steel City skyline turned a scene into an epic wave of feeling.


2. Feeling It in Flashdance

Speaking of feelings, who can forget Irene Cara’s classic “What a Feeling” in the Pittsburgh classic, Flashdance? We love this scene because it combines the spirit of the City of Champions with some incredible moves that we’d love to see in an end zone dance.


3. Send Up the Bat Signal – This Score is Criminal

Holy cow, Batman! Pittsburgh makes a great Gotham City and gave the world everyone’s favorite caped crusader, Michael Keaton. The Dark Knight Rises transforms an already awesome chase scene through downtown Pittsburgh into a legendary moment in Pittsburgh cinema, thanks to an incredible score by Hans Zimmer. 

4. Spoiler Alert: Get Your Tissues Ready

2016 Elly Honoree, Jesse Andrews adapted his coming-of-age novel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl into an incredibly unique, touching, and quintessential Pittsburgh film back in 2015. One particularly powerful moment in the film combines a tear jerking scene to the music of Brian Eno. Just listening to the song makes our eyes misty.

BONUS: Check out this interview with the director about making the film’s soundtrack.

5. Romero & Rubinstein

2017 Elly Award honoree, George Romero found the perfect composer for his 1978 horror classic, Martin, when he met his producer’s brother, Donald Rubinstein. Rubinstein created an eerie Baroque jazz score to match the film’s tone. Rubinstein went on to work with Romero again composing scores for Knightriders and Bruiser.

6. God Bless the Burgh

Lastly, we reach peak Pittsburgh with another film from 1978 – Oscar-Winning The Deer Hunter. Parts of the film were filmed right here in Western PA. The gritty scenes of steel mills and dive bars truly brought the film to live and captured a poignant slice of life. The masterful conclusion of the film hits hard with its emotional weight and use of “God Bless America.”

Feeling inspired?

Don’t miss our workshop, Music: Let It Make (Not Break) Your Film, on July 11 and learn how you can make music miracles happen in your films.

Thank you, Eric!

We’ve had so many incredible supporters of the Film Lab. Eric gave an incredible donation that helped us give more Pittsburghers the opportunity to succeed through the Film Lab. On behalf of everyone involved: