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Behind the Scenes

Umbrella Man students Point Park students participated in production of a behind-the-scenes (BTS) documentary for the upcoming original film, The Umbrella Man, including a flash mob project to promote the film. The flash mob team joined the BTS crew for the above photo, courtesy of MindFox Productions.

The Point
Winter 2013

From serving in key production roles in the upcoming independent film The Umbrella Man, to leading social media efforts and creating a "behind the scenes" documentary about the making of the movie, Point Park students, faculty and alumni have enjoyed a front row seat.

Filmed in Pittsburgh, nearby Washington County and Dallas, Texas, in October and November of 2012, The Umbrella Man film is a tale of love, loss and against-all-odds survival of one couple's relationship. Set in Pittsburgh in 1983, the story follows a father who becomes engrossed with conspiracy theories after the death of his young son. In the process, he stumbles onto the story of the "umbrella man" - a suspected shooter in President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

The original play The Umbrella Man is familiar to Pittsburgh audiences. The play's world premiere opened The REP professional theatre company's 2010-11 season at the Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University. The play was directed by Robert A. Miller with story by brothers Michael J. Grasso and Joseph M. Grasso. Miller and the Grasso brothers are now producers of the film. Michael Grasso is also director and writer, and Joseph Grasso is director of photography and writer, for the movie.

Ronald Allan-Lindblom, Point Park associate vice president and artistic director for the Playhouse, sensed early on that The Umbrella Man could become an important project for the University. The artistic team's vision to premiere the play at The REP and later film the movie version in Pittsburgh - involving Point Park in all aspects of production - was realized when filming took place last fall. The movie is expected to be released later in 2013, a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

Shawn BronsonShawn D. Bronson (pictured at right) is a 2008 graduate of the cinema and digital arts program and served as art director for the film. "It was a treat to be able to work with some former classmates and recent graduates," he said. "It's always a good time reminiscing about a former time in your life and seeing where you've changed as a person and developed professionally." Young alumni such as Cory Stoken and Eric Odiosa, who earned degrees in cinema in 2012, were also part of the production.

Many Point Park students, from cinema to communications students, were involved in the "behind the scenes" (BTS) documentary and in developing the social media campaign to promote the film. Travis Fox, Ph.D., a producer on the movie, as well as director and producer of the BTS feature (which will be released with the film and available on DVD later this year), has high praise for Point Park students.

Much of the BTS project and social media effort "was done by the students and for the students," says Fox, a Hollywood veteran who founded MindFox Productions LLC. "That's very rare for a BTS project. The students were very hands-on," including arranging a flash mob (titled "Who is The Umbrella Man?") in Market Square to help kick-off the social media effort. "The students have gone far beyond what is required to complete a practicum or internship. Their dedication is impressive."

Watch future issues of The Point for more information about The Umbrella Man movie.

Follow the social media effort and learn more about the film here:

Text by Cheryl Valyo
Photos courtesy of MindFox Productions

The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University