Steeltown Entertainment Project’s FILM FACTORY is a yearlong filmmaking competition and unique mentorship program that connects Hollywood professionals with Pittsburgh roots, to local emerging talent. This series of public workshops and panel discussions, hosted by esteemed screenwriters, producers, and filmmakers culminates in the selection of a winning script, and awards one lucky and skilled local $30,000 to make the short film of his or her dreams. Students, writers, and aspiring filmmakers are encouraged to take part in the second annual FILM FACTORY by submitting scripts, and attending workshops for the extremely rare opportunity to network with and receive feedback from Hollywood insiders.

Last year’s panelists included Pittsburgh natives and successful industry professionals such as Oscar Winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), 300 producer Bernie Goldmann, the production manager of Avatar’s Virtual World Heide Waldbaum, and Two and a Half Men director and star of Animal House Jamie Widdoes, to name a few. Steeltown’s Executive Producer Carl Kurlander (St. Elmo’s Fire screenwriter, Saved By The Bell producer) and this year’s FILM FACTORY Producer Lisa Smith (Co-executive producer, “The People Speak”) have both returned home from Hollywood themselves. As Jamie Widdoes notes, “There’s a very rich history, not just of filmmaking in Pittsburgh, but of filmmakers who are from Pittsburgh.”

FILM FACTORY is helping to build a vibrant entertainment sector in the Pittsburgh region. In fact, several projects that were discovered by panelists and judges on their FILM FACTORY visits to Pittsburgh are currently in development. The advisors know that there is talent here, because Pittsburgh is the place that nurtured them and bringing their own projects back here is their way of giving back to the region that nurtured their own talent. That, along with the expertise of other organizations like The Pittsburgh Film Office, Pittsburgh Technology Council and Idea Foundry is causing Pittsburgh’s entertainment industry to take off.

After attending the Steeltown Summit in 2003, which inspired the FILM FACTORY, Steeltown advisor and Lionsgate Executive Producer John Dellaverson urged legislators to develop the PA Film Tax Credit of 2007, which has since brought numerous feature films to the area, and brought in over 175 million dollars in revenue. And because of initiatives like the FILM FACTORY, Pittsburgh-connected industry professionals are returning and developing programs and work for our region. It also encourages emerging talent, along with other successful professionals, to return to Pittsburgh for viable work. According to Bernie Goldmann, “The overall goal is to keep the young people of the city here. It’s a great city!”

FILM FACTORY launched on November 6, 2010, and goes through April of 2011. Scripts must be 12 pages with a logline, one-page synopsis and an optional sample of prior work. They are being accepted through December 31, 2010.

Anyone who has ever wondered how the film industry really works should attend the remaining three panels. First is “Pitch it or Ditch it,” on February 19, 2010 at the University of Pittsburgh where ten semi-finalists will learn how to pitch their ideas “Hollywood style” to panelists. “Ready, Set, Shoot” takes place on March 26, 2010 at Point Park and will give five semi-finalists the chance to present their production plans, ideas, and projected budget. The last panel, “Page to Stage” will be on April 30, 2010 at Carnegie Mellon University where world-class drama students will perform live readings of the final three scripts.

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