About this project
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Set in Homestead, PA in 1892, Hugh O’Donnell struggles to maintain order among fellow steelworkers as wages are cut and working conditions decline under the ruthless management of Henry Clay Frick. Mounting tensions forebode a brutal workers’ strike, but O’Donnell is determined to find a peaceful solution to this historic clash between capital and labor.
Darren Shahlavi will play Hugh O'Donnell, oldest of the three brothers and leader of the strikers
Matthew Stannah will play Martin O'Donnell, the middle brother, hotheaded but loyal.
Ty Kunzelman will play Carey O'Donnell, the youngest brother, with an unbeatable spirit.
Chris Kies will play John Potter, the Homestead mill superintendent, steadfast and earnest. Check out the video below for a spotlight on the character JOHN POTTER:
The inspiration for Steel Town stems from an appreciation for the strength of character of individuals on both sides of the conflict, including the rags-to-riches robber barons of the Gilded Age, like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, and the blue-collar champions of the workers, like strike leader Hugh O’Donnell. I wish to remind audiences of the heroism embedded in the nameless Pittsburgh steelworkers whose backbreaking work shaped our country westward and skyward. This work will aim to shed light on both sides of the conflict. By presenting the story as a dramatic film with high production quality, I aim to prompt an important dialogue on the relationship between capital and labor in the context of past tragedies and triumphs.
I have loved movies ever since I saw Toy Story in 1995. Pixar has always been my biggest inspiration simply because of how well they craft their stories. If you can make someone love a lamp in under a minute, you can do almost anything. I take this appreciation into every film I direct, and while Steel Town is very different from a Pixar movie, the same golden rule always applies: tell a great story.
What will your donation help pay for? Here is a complete budget breakdown for our entire film, down to the last cent. If we don't raise at least $15,000 on Kickstarter, we can't make Steel Town.
We've already begun work on several aspects of the production. For example, we've cooperated with local filmmaker Alan Jaskiewicz on set construction for the barges that will carry the Pinkerton Detectives down the Monongahela toward their final confrontation with the strikers at Homestead.
We are also collaborating with area experts and historians, such as Ron Baraff, Director of Museum Collections and Archives for the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. Ron is our main contact for Carrie Furnace, a former blast furnace which is now open to the public in an effort to educate on the history of steel. Kickstarter funds will go toward shooting the opening scene of the film, the steel mill explosion, at Carrie Furnace.
As we continue with the production process, we will add updates to the page. Please check back for exciting announcements about cast, crew and equipment additions, as well as screening plans!
NICOLAS HURT - WRITER / DIRECTOR / PRODUCER
Nick has produced multiple independent short films, including The Perils of Growing Up Flat-Chested, an official selection of the Palm Springs International ShortFest and winner of the 2012 Steeltown Film Factory competition, as well as First Kiss, an official selection of the 2012 HollyShorts Film Festival. Nick has a BS in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University and has previously worked at Illumination Entertainment and Legendary Pictures.
YULIN KUANG - WRITER/PRODUCER
Yulin, a recent alum of Carnegie Mellon University's writing and film program, has written, directed, and produced a number of award-winning short films and webseries with university funding and external production grants. Her senior thesis film, First Kiss was a finalist short at the 2012 Hollyshorts Film Festival. Her first film following graduation, The Perils of Growing Up Flat-Chested was the first place winner of the Ellen Kander Weiss production grant from the Steeltown Film Factory screenwriting competition, and screened at the 2013 Palm Springs International ShortFest and 2013 HollyShorts Film Festival.
DAN VETANOVETZ - PRODUCER
Dan has worked in the worlds of both film and local politics since graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. He has worked primarily as Gaffer on projects such as Yulin Kuang's The Perils of Growing Up Flat Chested, Andrew Batista's The Commute and Andy Keleman's Letter Die: A Gamut Sibling Mystery. He has worked extensively in the Pittsburgh freelance set electrician scene for clients such as New Perspective and KDKA. Most recently, he managed Dan Gilman's winning primary campaign for Pittsburgh city council.
JENNIFER HWANG - Production Designer
Jennifer is a Los Angeles-based production designer. Since her first art competition at the age of 4, Jennifer has actively pursued a career in the arts, going on to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in fine art. As an avid film-watcher, she has always been intrigued by the fantastical, stylized, and other-worldly environments in film, and wanted to be able to create them for herself. Jennifer strives to design fully-resolved worlds that intimately express the characters that inhabit them. Jennifer has designed several shorts, and has worked in the art department on features, shorts, and music videos.
Other films produced by Nicolas Hurt and Yulin Kuang:
Risks and challenges
Every production faces risks and challenges at every stage – from securing funding in pre-production to unforeseen weather conditions in production. The fact that this is a period piece will add to those risks and challenges as well. In order to address these concerns, our team is working to ensure that the art department will have all the funding necessary to build and dress their sets, and bringing in experienced crew members who can anticipate any production concerns and address them before they become an issue. Filmmaking is a challenge, and that's part of why we love it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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