90.5 WESA | By Margaret J. Krauss Published October 14, 2022 at 5:35 AM EDT

The development adjoins the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces, formerly part of the U.S. Steel Homestead Works.

A slate of federal, state, and local officials gathered Thursday to break ground for a 60,000-square-foot tech space near the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces in Rankin. All said they expect development on the site, which once churned out iron to feed the region’s storied steelmaking industry, to forge new possibilities for the Mon Valley.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Congressman Mike Doyle, whose grandfather, Mike Doyle, worked at the Carrie Furnaces after emigrating from Ireland. Doyle, the U.S. representative, helped to secure funding for the site over many years.

“There’s been a steady stream of investment and focus on bringing this site back to life,” said Donald Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, or RIDC. The site, he predicted, will soon host “great jobs that will sustain families across our region, and contribute to the economic prosperity of these three important towns that this site touches: Swissvale, Rankin, and Braddock.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said that what was once a haven for metals production is now going to be “a haven for technology, and film, and IT, and life sciences and all the things that Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh region is becoming.”

RIDC aims to attract new companies with a pair of 60,000-square-foot buildings that can be converted to a variety of uses, as well as by further building out the infrastructure on the 55-acre site with new roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks. RIDC is also working with the Pittsburgh Film Office to create “The Film Furnace,” a film studio with a sound stage and other facilities to attract television and movie productions.

A purpose-built soundstage is “really needed by our clients,” said Dawn Keezer, who directs the Pittsburgh Film Office. In 2021 and 2022, more than 20 projects were shot in Pittsburgh, bringing more than $300 million and 10,000 jobs to the area, she said. The sound stage is expected to only increase the region’s draw.

While RIDC is acting as the developer on the site, the land is owned by Allegheny County. In September, county officials announced a multimillion dollar effort to build a non-motorized connection between the Carrie Furnaces and the Great Allegheny Passage. On Thursday, officials said that investment allows the site to piggyback on the investment all along the GAP, from Downtown through Hazelwood and Hazelwood Green.

The Carrie Blast Furnaces were part of U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works, and employed thousands of people before they closed in 1982. Nonprofit Rivers of Steel has worked to preserve the furnaces as well as open them to the public.

Smith thanked Rivers of Steel for their work in preserving and sharing the story of the furnaces, “so that our kids can understand what this region was all about back in the day, while we’re busy creating what this region’s going to be about in the future.”

RYAN DETO | Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022 1:50 p.m.5523898_web1_GTR-CarrieFurnace05-072119

The Carrie Blast Furnaces, a National Historic Landmark, on July 10, 2019.5523898_web1_ptr-CarrieFurnaceGroundbreaking-101422


Local Pittsburgh officials at a ceremonial ground breaking for the Carrie Blast Furnace site on Oct. 13, 2022.

Officials on Thursday announced that two, 60,000-square-foot buildings will be built on the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces site in Rankin.

The first is being marketed as a tech flex space and the other will be a film sound stage and production facility.

Roads and other infrastructure for the 55-acre site are starting construction this year. Carrie Blast Furnaces is a preserved brownfield site that was part of the Homestead Steel Works.

The site is being developed by the Regional Industrial Development Corp. Its president, Don Smith, said at a news conference the film building will be the first purpose-built soundstage in the Pittsburgh area. He said the two buildings are part of eight total plots that RIDC expects will eventually bring hundreds of jobs to Carrie Furnaces.

“This site represents economic progress for our region,” Smith said. “A site for jobs that will sustain families.”

Smith recognized U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, for helping to secure millions of dollars in funding for the site, including the initial federal dollars for a flyover bridge that made the site accessible.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Doyle, who added that his grandfather worked at Carrie Blast Furnace after immigrating from Ireland. “We have been working hard to put abandoned properties like this back into use again.”

The initial tech-flex building and its infrastructure will cost nearly $20 million, which includes a combination of federal budget appropriations and private grants and loans and equity provided by RIDC.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald called the site “hallowed ground” because of the steel industry’s’ role in building the country and winning wars.

“As the Mon Valley used to be used for the production of steel, now it will be for the growth of tech, life sciences and other industries,” Fitzgerald said.

He said the site is situated well for access, as it is located near the East Busway and will soon be getting a bike-and-pedestrian trail extension thanks to a $9.2 million allocation from Allegheny County.

Pittsburgh Film Office Director Dawn Keezer said the development would be a boon for the local film industry. She said film clients really needed a new space.

Smith also expects the buildings will help boost the film industry, as two repurposed sound stages in the area have recently been taken offline.

“This will tie the history of our past with where we are going into the future,” Keezer said.

Ryan Deto is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Ryan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Photo courtesy of Ron Baraff / Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

Carrie Furnace breaks ground on tech/flex space with a film studio in the works

Michael Machosky  October 13, 2022  Arts & EntertainmentBraddockBusiness & Tech NewsCity Design

The monolithic steel-era ruins of the Carrie Furnace have long been a popular backdrop for film and video — from the Christian Bale crime thriller “Out of the Furnace” to “American Ninja Warrior” to Wiz Khalifa’s music videos. Now, the massive site along the Monongahela River is getting its own movie studio.

“This will be the first purpose-built sound stage facility in the region,” says Dawn Keezer, director the Pittsburgh Film Office. “It’s really needed by our clients. We had 11 projects shoot in 2021. We’ll have 10 projects shoot this year. They’ll be bringing with it about $200 million in new money to the economy, and we’re talking about 10,000 jobs.”

While funding and the final design for the studio are pending, Carrie Furnace is getting its first new building, a 60,000-square-foot tech/flex space designed to attract the kinds of companies that are fueling Pittsburgh’s economy. Officials from the city, state and neighborhoods helped break ground for the project on Thursday morning.

Carrie Furnace. Photo courtesy of the RIDC.

“This Carrie Furnace site was the economic epicenter of this region and created family-sustaining jobs for so many,” says Don Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) which is developing the site.

“And we all know about the difficulties that happened with the deindustrialization of the United States; it certainly hit Pittsburgh harder than most. But thanks to the efforts of so many folks, there’s been a steady stream of focus and investment in bringing this site back to life.”

The building and infrastructure will cost $20 million coming from a combination of public and private grants and loans and equity provided by RIDC.

The Carrie Furnace property has 55 acres of developable land, with 11 more acres available west of the site for future development.

Rivers of Steel will continue to preserve the remaining Carrie Furnace steel mill as a national historic site, showcasing the region’s industrial heritage.

Groundbreaking event at the Carrie Furnace. Photo by Mike Machosky.

“When my grandfather immigrated from Ireland and landed in Swissvale, he got a job at Carrie Furnace,” says Congressman Mike Doyle. “And he worked there for 40 years. And his son, Mike Doyle, worked a few miles down at the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock for 30 years. And his son worked two summers at J&L (Steel) and said, ‘I don’t want to be a steelworker.’”

Doyle notes that he helped secure $3 million in the House’s 2023 spending bill for the film production facility.

“All of us who grew up here are proud of the legacy our fathers and grandfathers left us,” says Doyle. “They did hard, dangerous work here at Carrie Furnace, and they did it to support their families … that’s why it’s been a labor of love for me to work to preserve Carrie Furnace.”

Michael Machosky  July 25, 2022  Arts & EntertainmentBraddockCity DesignCurrent Features

Just last week, hometown hero Billy Porter’s made-in-Pittsburgh directorial debut, the coming-of-age romantic comedy “Anything’s Possible” hit Amazon Prime — but it’s far from the region’s only connection to Hollywood.

The Pittsburgh Film Office estimates that Western Pennsylvania saw about $330 million in economic impact from film and TV productions in 2021, though those numbers haven’t been finalized yet. For comparison, the annual average was about $150 million before 2021.

And 2022 looks like another blockbuster year.

Still from the “Anything’s Possible” trailer.

The local industry is growing, but so is the need for infrastructure.

Enter Carrie Furnace stage left.

“We’ve done well, using our repurposed warehouses,” says Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. “31st Street Studio in the Strip has been amazing. We’ve got the former American Eagle distribution warehouse in Warrendale. We’ve got two former Westinghouse facilities that are being used as stages; we had a closed JCPenney as a stage out on Route 28 (for “Cha Cha Real Smooth”).

“What we’re building is something that can be used today, and for the filmmakers of the future. … This is important because the clients coming in expect to find this kind of facility … and we’d like to centralize the industry in one place.”

The state has awarded $7.6 million in grants and loans to the site’s owner, Regional Industrial Development Corporation. The bulk of that is for site preparation, infrastructure, roads, parking, and utility work needed to construct a 50,000-square-foot building hosting multiple sound stages.

“Pittsburgh is definitely a hot city for filming,” says Jesse Cute, vice president for Allied Global Marketing in Philadelphia, which promotes much of the film industry in the state. “Our film commissioner in Philly gets Pittsburgh-envy sometimes.”

Billy Porter mural featured in a still from “Anything’s Possible” on Amazon Prime.

So, Burbank by Braddock — that’s the plan?

“Ideally, we’ll have six more stages down there, plus the outbuildings that you need to make the industry happen, like production offices,” says Keezer. “And then, the longer-term plan is to have some businesses relocate down there to service the industry — what we’re calling the Pittsburgh Film Furnace.”

State tax credits end up influencing where a lot of film and TV projects end up. Pennsylvania boosted its film tax credit program to $100 million, a 30% increase, notes Keezer, but there are still more productions interested than there are tax credits available.

The areas in pink are envisioned as the most imminently developable parts of the Carrie Furnace site, spanning Swissvale and Rankin. The eastern end of the site (to the right) is expected to be developed first. Photo courtesy of the Allegheny County Department of Development.

This is a notoriously mobile business, and the film industry is growing outside of California in places such as Atlanta, New Orleans and Vancouver.

But Pittsburgh has a few built-in advantages. Unless you’re looking for beaches or deserts or a few other particular things, you can find just about any kind of “look” here, from Manhattan-like skyscrapers to the densely wooded wilderness — all just minutes apart, instead of hours. There are well-preserved buildings from many eras, from the 1900s to the 1990s. Crime drama “Mayor of Kingstown” was lured back to Pennsylvania for its next season from Canada, because it can use Erie for waterfront scenes. Also, there’s one thing you can find here that you won’t find in many other places:  gigantic factories, like the former steel mill at Carrie Furnace.

“If we need a steel mill (for a scene), well it’s hard to use a working steel mill,” notes Keezer.

Local film crews are well known for their hard work and competence.

“We have some of the best crew in the industry that live in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” says Keezer. “In the old days, when we were lucky to get one project a year, they would travel to work all over the country and all over the world. But we’re so busy now because they can stay home.”

Acreage west of the furnaces. Photo courtesy of Allegheny County.

If this industry grows further locally, it will need more workers, which opens up opportunities for struggling neighborhoods like Rankin, Braddock and Swissvale.

“It’s surrounded by communities that need an industry,” says Keezer. “We’ve created this workforce training program in partnership with the IATSE union. It’s the first place outside of New York where it’s happening. We start that on Aug. 6, and we need more people to work, and there are jobs available in this industry. These are good paying family-sustaining jobs that you don’t need a college degree.”

The Pittsburgh Film Office is a good place to check for upcoming jobs and training opportunities.

By LINDSEY BAHR July 21, 2022

Billy Porter, right, director of the new film “Anything’s Possible,” poses with the film’s lead actor Eva Reign at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on Thursday, July 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Eva Reign stepped onto the set of “ Anything’s Possible ” for the first time almost exactly a year ago. She was, to put it mildly, nervous.

It was a big moment for Reign, who had dreamed of acting in films for most of her life but hadn’t managed to break through. She didn’t even have an agent or a manager when she responded to the open casting call. Suddenly there she was, starring in a film directed by Billy Porter about a transgender high school senior’s first big romance and all she could think about was how she was going to have to prove herself. But Porter put her at ease.

“You’re safe now. You’re doing the thing,” Porter told her. “Have fun doing the thing. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t earn it.”

“Anything’s Possible,” which debuts on Amazon Prime Video Friday, is a milestone for transgender representation in film — a studio-produced celebration of an empowered Black trans girl.

Porter likes to say that the script found him. The rom-com, written by Ximena García Lecuona, checked off a lot of boxes for the Tony- and Emmy-winning actor, who makes his directorial debut with the film. He loved that it wasn’t a coming out story. He loved that Kelsa (Reign) was already accepted by her peers and being pursued by a cute guy (Abubakr Ali). He loved that it could help dispel a pernicious fallacy that trans and queer people have “miserable lives.” And he loved that it just happened to be set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Porter was born, raised and found his voice as an artist.ENTERTAINMENTWill Smith posts an apology video for slapping Chris Rock‘Amber Brown’ springs to TV under Bonnie Hunt’s sure handJoe Manganiello gets family mysteries solved on PBS showQ&A: Melissa Barrera survives, on screen and in Hollywood

“I wanted to come back and just create a love letter to Pittsburgh, that honored all of the energies, the mentors, the teachers, the chosen families and all of the people who raised me and made me the human being that I am today,” Porter said. “That happened in Pittsburgh.”(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Alexa Fogel, who also cast “Pose,” was the one who put Reign in front of Porter. Reign was working as a freelance journalist when a friend told her about an open casting call for the film.

“She stuck out to me because there is a grounded and mature energy to her that is beyond Kelsa’s years,” Porter said. “I really felt like for the first time seeing this archetype in the mainstream marketplace, we needed a leader to guide us through this tale who was grounded and mature — probably more mature than what you would think a traditional 17-year-old would be.”

Porter was a grounding force for Reign throughout the process, encouraging her to embrace the full range of her voice which she’d been made to feel self-conscious about in the theater.Reign and Porter on the set of “Anything’s Possible.” (Tony Rivetti/Prime Video via AP)

“There are plenty of cis women out there with much, much deeper voices than mine. But when you’re a trans women, they try to put you in strange boxes that don’t make any sense, that are totally made up,” Reign said. “Billy said that before we even started shooting. And I just burst into tears. I had never had that said to me. It made me think this is the start of something totally new.”

For his part, Porter didn’t want Reign to go through what he did. When he was studying theater at Carnegie Mellon, he remembered being told that his own voice was too high for the American stage and that he’d never make it as an actor. His experience in the industry would prove otherwise.

“I’ve been through a whole lot in my life. A whole lot of naysayers. A whole lot of people telling me that who I am was not good enough, that my queerness would be my liability,” Porter said. “This piece found me because of the decisions and choices I made in my life prior, choosing myself and my authenticity decades ago.”

In Kelsa, Reign saw some similarities to her own journey, including having a supportive and sometimes overly protective mother (played in the film by Renée Elise Goldsberry). But, she said, her high school experience in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, was “a little bit rougher.”

“I was this budding trans person at the time, and a lot of people couldn’t quite figure me out,” she said.

Reign turned to writing, drawing comics and acting to express herself and eventually found her way to New York, where she’s been making a name for herself in more than one medium. She recently won a Peabody for her work in the Vice News docu-series “Transnational.” And she’s hopeful about what “Anything’s Possible” might do for the kinds of stories that are told about transgender people.

“Billy Porter is really putting in the work to have more happy, queer, trans narratives,” she said. “We’ve seen happy trans people on shows like ‘Pose’ and ‘Euphoria,’ but I kind of thought that was few and far between. I didn’t think that was something that was going to come up in my all life and career and journey as an artist. I struggle with being honest about that because I don’t want to talk in morbid ways. But I didn’t think it was feasible.”

“A lot of my friends in New York who are also trans artists and actors and writers, they’re all looking at this movie, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re doing this. We’re telling happy stories,’” she added. “We’re all kind of having this collective moment of being like, ‘Oh we’re allowed to show our joy. Hopefully we can do more of that.’”


JOSHUA AXELROD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [email protected] JUL 11, 2022 2:09 PM

Pennsylvania’s recently finalized $45.2 billion budget for 2022-23 has gotten a lot of attention for major accomplishments such as making record investments in education and community safety. It also has the distinction of giving the state’s film production industry a major boost in the amount of projects able to set up shop here.

For years, Pennsylvania’s film production tax credit program — which provides studios with a rebate based on how much money they spend in the commonwealth — has been capped at $70 million. Members of the state Legislature’s Film Industry Caucus and outside advocates have been working tirelessly to increase that figure to at least $125 million in order to attract more productions and, subsequently, more money, to Pennsylvania via its entertainment sector.

Their efforts paid off last week when a provision enshrined in House Bill 1342 and Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 tax code officially increased the film tax incentive from $70 million to $100 million and allocated $5 million to “Pennsylvania film producers.” The bill’s language also states that the new $100 million cap “shall remain at the amount allocated for fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2022, and ending before July 1, 2025.”

It wasn’t exactly the $125 million goal many had been pushing for, but the major players involved are still happy with what they see as a win for all Pennsylvanians. Gillian McGoldrickPa.’s $45.2 billion budget: A closer look at how the state’s tax dollars will be spent

“This is a victory for the working people of Pennsylvania, those individuals who work in this production space,” Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills and co-chair of the state Senate’s Film Industry Caucus, told the Post-Gazette. “It’s going to attract movie and TV productions alike to our region and stimulate local economies.”

Costa and Film Caucus co-chair Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Monongahela, had introduced legislation to expand the film tax credit program on two separate occasions prior to this $30 million increase. Their attempt at adding $55 million to the film incentive failed in last year’s budget cycle, but they kept trying to convince their colleagues that the alleged $1 billion worth of film and TV projects knocking on Pennsylvania’s door was enough reason to up the tax credit.

They both said that this bill is not only a boon for local entertainment workers, but also for the businesses that will reap the benefits of Hollywood productions using their towns and neighborhoods as a home base.

“These are really good-paying jobs that provide livelihoods for families to move here, stay here, buy a home and put their kids through college,” Bartolotta said. “To see that, after all these years, we moved the needle to go up $30 million right now will give us the opportunity to bring hundreds of millions of capital investment into Western Pennsylvania.”

Bartolotta name-checked both Pittsburgh Film Office Director Dawn Keezer and Haddad’s Inc. CEO David Haddad for being “great advocates and storytellers for the benefit of this film tax credit and what it brings to Pennsylvania.” Keezer appeared before a Senate panel in April as part of a discussion about potentially expanding the state’s film tax credit program during the upcoming budget cycle.

She told the Post-Gazette that the 11 projects filmed in southwestern Pennsylvania last year had a more than $300 million in economic impact on the region.

“Our over 20,000 Pennsylvanians and hundreds of local small businesses that rely on this industry are overjoyed with the support from the commonwealth and are looking forward to another record-breaking year for film and TV production,” Keezer added.
 Gillian McGoldrickPittsburgh-area film workers praise Pa.’s film tax credit, ask for increase before state Senate panel

Haddad, whose company rents out film equipment to productions nationwide, is also the chair of the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association, an advocacy group that had been working with the likes of Costa and Bartolotta to explain what increasing the film incentive could do for Pennsylvania’s economy on both state and local levels. The Pleasant Hills native has also been on the board of the Pittsburgh Film Office for 26 years.

He said that the original $125 million ask was based on the amount of film tax incentive PAFIA calculated would be required to attract enough productions for a full year of work. The original $70 million incentive accounted for about six months of work, and Haddad thinks this new $100 million cap should buy Pennsylvania at least nine months worth of film and television projects to keep entertainment workers busy.

“We’re extremely pleased,” he said. “We’ve been working for eight years to bump the credit. It’s been a long journey and roller coaster ride. But we’re glad the legislators and branches of government have seen how successful it was and expanded it.”

He also touted the $5 million set aside for Pennsylvania-based filmmakers as “a feather in our cap” in terms of giving more local creatives a shot at making their dream film or show. That said, Haddad made it clear that “our work is not done yet” when it comes to getting that film tax credit up to the desired $125 million threshold.

For now, though, those who fought for a more robust film tax credit pie are celebrating what they view as an incremental but still necessary victory.

“We wanted to make a clear statement that we value the relationship we have with these folks from across the country and that we want them to come here to produce shows and movies,” Costa said. “Our workforce stands ready and we’re looking forward to the economic impact this will have in the state.”

Joshua Axelrod: [email protected] and Twitter @jaxelburgh.

First Published July 11, 2022, 2:09pm


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PITTSBURGH – The Department of Public Works announced today that it has granted a permit to Fidelis Productions, LLC to close Pitcairn Road between the Sugar Camp Park entrance in Pitcairn Borough and Tilbrook Road in Monroeville as well as Stroschein Road between Pitcairn Road and Wyngate Drive in Monroeville. The closures will occur from 7 p.m. Thursday, July 29 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, July 30. They are required for a film shoot.   Residents who live within the closure areas will have access to their homes at all times.  Pitcairn Road traffic will be detoured using Wall Avenue, Broadway Boulevard (Route 130), Brinton Road, Rosso Drive, and Tilbrook Road. Stroschein Road traffic will be detoured using Wyngate Drive and Monroeville Boulevard. For more information, contact John Adkins at 412-352-6465 or [email protected].

Scammers have been targeting film crew on job or listing websites with false job offers posing as real film industry professionals.

Be wary of suspicious emails.

Please call the Pittsburgh Film Office to verify the legitimacy of any productions that contact you.

In some cases, the scammer will try to mail checks to you as pre-payment, usually in the amount of thousands of dollars. They will ask you to deposit the check promptly, and it will bounce.


The scammers may also offer to meet with you in person. Please be careful and investigate job offers before going to any location. Ask questions and do research.

PITTSBURGH – The Department of Public Works announced today that it has permitted Fidelis Productions, LLC to move the dates of its upcoming road closures in the Municipality of Monroeville and Pitcairn Borough. Pitcairn Road between the Sugar Camp Park entrance and Tilbrook Road as well as Stroschein Road between Pitcairn Road and Wyngate Drive will now close from 7 p.m. Friday, June 25 to 4 a.m. Saturday, June 26. The closures are required for a film shoot.   Residents who live within the closure areas will have access to their homes at all times.   Pitcairn Road traffic will be detoured using Wall Avenue, Broadway Boulevard (Route 130), Brinton Road, Rosso Drive, and Tilbrook Road. Stroschein Road traffic will be detoured using Wyngate Drive and Monroeville Boulevard.   The closures were originally scheduled to occur overnight on 6/18. However, due to recent storms, streetlight work necessary for the film shoot has been delayed.  
For more information, contact John Adkins at 412-352-6465 or [email protected].