The Chair: On Location with Point Park-based documentary series
The Chair, a new documentary series that follows two up-and-coming directors as they compete to make the best feature film, from the same script using the same resources, was produced on Point Park's campus and in Pittsburgh locations during winter and spring of 2014. The series will air on the Starz channel this fall.
More than 75 Point Park students and alumni from a variety of majors have supported the television series and two feature films as interns, employees and through class projects. The production offices for The Chair were housed on campus in West Penn Hall, where editing and other post-production work continued through the spring.
According to Nelson Chipman, former chair of Point Park's Cinema Arts Department and University liaison for the production, the project brought together two film crews and one television crew, all shooting simultaneously, giving Point Park students unparalleled learning opportunities to experience all aspects of production.
"The Chair project has given our students and alumni the opportunity to gain real-world experience alongside artists and professionals on a unique project of national scope," said Point Park President Paul Hennigan. "It aligns perfectly with our mission."
Producers for The Chair include: Hollywood veteran Chris Moore (Good Will Hunting, American Pie, Promised Land and the HBO series Project Greenlight), Pittsburgh native and famed actor Zachary Quinto (Star Trek); and producers Corey Moosa, Josh Shader and Neil Dodson.
The Chair was made in Pittsburgh because Moore and Before the Door Pictures have a working relationship with the local movie industry - particularly Point Park and Steeltown Entertainment Project, which shepherds Pittsburgh-area film projects. Steeltown's chief operating officer and Point Park faculty member Lisa Smith-Reed, a veteran producer who teaches cinema, was also instrumental in bringing The Chair to the University and Pittsburgh.
Moore joined Moosa on the stage of Point Park's packed GRW Theatre for a kick-off celebration, lecture and question and answer session to discuss "The Business of Filmmaking" on Feb. 3. The Cinema and Digital Arts department also hosted Quinto and Dodson on Feb. 17 for a session on "The Creative Side of Filmmaking: Building a Lasting Career."
During filming of the TV series and both feature films, all shot entirely in Pittsburgh, students and alumni representing the Conservatory of Performing Arts, School of Business and School of Communication have worked on and off set in production-based roles, as well as administrative and marketing positions. Several classes participated in semester-long projects, and students had the opportunity to audition for roles in the films.
The Chair explores the power of creative vision and the impact it has on an artistic product. The upcoming series will chronicle each director's journey to make the best film, and the winner will be chosen by audience vote. The winning director will receive a yearlong filmmaker's package in Los Angeles to pursue their dream of becoming a Hollywood director. The film is a coming-of-age comedy about a group of former high school classmates who return home from college for Thanksgiving.
Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci, both from Los Angeles, are the competing directors. Dawson is currently one of the biggest stars on YouTube as a result of his comedy channel. He recently sold a half-hour sitcom based on his life to NBC.
Martemucci is a writer, actress and producer, often assuming all three roles for a film. She's best known for Before After (2010), Periods (2012) and Breakup at a Wedding (2013).
Watch for the fall issue of The Point to learn more details about The Chair.
Photo by Martha Rial.
The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University.