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Film professionals to speak at Steeltown film event

| Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

Pittsburgh has had plenty of luck luring big-budget Hollywood productions like "Unstoppable," "The Next Three Days" and "Love and Other Drugs" to town, as this month's theaters will attest. But there are other projects afoot to help Pittsburgh grow its film industry organically, from the ground up -- like the Steeltown Entertainment Project.

The second annual Steeltown Film Factory -- a nationwide contest to give one talented filmmaker a shot at spending $30,000 in production money to make a short film in Pittsburgh -- begins this weekend.

To kick it off, there will be a special event, "So, You Want to Make a Movie?," at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Melwood Screening Room in Oakland.

The event gives aspiring filmmakers a rare chance to learn from Pittsburgh's deep roster of film professionals, including Edgewood-Swissvale native David Conrad (star of "Ghost Whisperer"), Donora native Kim Moses and her partner Ian Sander (executive producers of "Ghost Whisperer" and "Profiler"), and Mt. Lebanon screenwriter Joe Batteer ("Windtalkers," "Blown Away").

The panel will be moderated by Film Factory producer Lisa Smith -- who recently co-executive produced "The People Speak" with Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman -- and Steeltown Entertainment Project executive producer Carl Kurlander ("St. Elmo's Fire").

Last year's winners were Ross Thomas, for his film "Anywhere But Here," and Pittsburgh-based comedy troupe Hustlebot, for the comedy movie "Roll the Dice." Thomas and Hustlebot will be co-moderators of the panel.

Anyone over age 16 can submit a Pittsburgh-inspired screenplay, 12 pages maximum, by midnight Dec. 31. There are no limits to each participant's number of submissions, nor does the participant have to reside in Pittsburgh.

The event is free, but a full house is expected. To reserve a seat, go to www.SteelTownFilmFactory.org , e-mail info@steeltown.org or call 412-622-1325.

As part of the Three Rivers Film Festival, the Steeltown Entertainment Project-produced documentary, "The Shot Felt 'Round The World," about Jonas Salk's polio crusade, will screen at 1:45 p.m. Sunday at the Melwood Screening Room.

The film has inspired an educational "viral video" competition called "Take a Shot at Changing the World," open to students in grades 6 through 12, who are invited to make short films about the collaborative effort that led to the Salk polio vaccine, and connecting it to current efforts to eradicate polio. The winning video will receive $5,000, and will be shown on WQED and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's website. Four runners-up will receive $1,000. The initiative will begin Nov. 15. Details: www.takeashotcontest.org .

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