Recommended Reading: Books On Pittsburgh Film History

It’s hard to deny Pittsburgh’s growing role as a movie making hub. Whether its low-key comedies like Zack and Miri or blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises, the city has welcomed and accommodated more major league film business over the last decade. But in its transformation into the Hollywood of the East, it’s easy to forget the former steel town’s previous, and less recognized contributions to American cinema. To avoid that, many have used the written word to celebrate the city’s unique influence on the motion picture industry.

Pittsburgh Film History: On Set In the Steel City – By John Tiech

Last week, local author John Tiech released his book Pittsburgh Film History: On Set In the Steel City, a look at the area’s film and television industry from the silent era to present day. The college English instructor interviewed over 100 sources, combed newspaper articles, and utilized his connections with the local film community to complete the 160-page work, a resource he said many considered “long overdue.” On Set In the Steel City may prove one of the most comprehensive guides on Pittsburgh film history to date. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Nickelodeon City: Pittsburgh at the Movies, 1905-1929, By Michael Aronson

From the beginning, Pittsburgh has played a large role in the consideration and expansion of film as a beloved art form. In 1905 – long before Hollywood became the movie capital of the world –  the country’s first Nickelodeon opened in the city’s downtown, offering citizens a cheap escape from their industrial work-a-day lives. This 2010 book from film and media expert Michael Aronson details how cultural and economic factors led to the development of Pittsburgh’s early film trade, and the impact it had on the growth of the overall industry.

Stories From The Chapel, Edited By Lauren Izzo and Alfredo Torres

When news broke of the Evans City Chapel’s impending demolition last year, Night of the Living Dead fans rallied to save it. The Fix the Chapel project was created as a way to raise the funds necessary to restore the small building – featured in the classic Pittsburgh-made zombie movie – and many joined the effort to preserve a piece of horror film history.

The Kindel book Stories From The Chapel contains a collection of pieces from professional and amateur writers, poets, and artists united by their love for Night of the Living Dead. The anthology features some entertaining zombie-inspired prose, as well as thoughtful and informative forewards by the film’s sound engineer, Gary Streiner, and horror author, David Moody. Each purchase goes toward supporting Fix the Chapel.

The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh: The Films of George A. Romero – By Paul R. Gagne

Published in 1987, Paul Gagne‘s biography on filmmaker George Romero still provides relevent details on how the director inadvertently made his hometown the unofficial Zombietown, U.S.A. The book chronicles how he took his childhood fascination with an 8mm camera and developed it into a long career that includes the ground-breaking Night of the Living Dead series, collaboration with Stephen King on the movie Creepshow, and lesser known works such as Martin and The Crazies. Gagne also provides eight pages of color photos and 100 black-and-white shots, as well as a chapter on legendary make-up and special effects artist, Tom Savini, another Pittsburgh native who worked with Romero on a number of films.

Crossroads: Avant-Garde Film in Pittsburgh in the 1970s – By Robert A. Haller

In Robert A. Haller‘s memoir, he recounts living and working with Pittsburgh’s burgeoning experimental film community in the 1970s. The writer facilitated the movement through his work at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, an organization that became one of the city’s greatest independent resources for teaching and promoting film making.


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