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Pittsburgh's Film Industry Ready To Get Back To Work

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
Actors stand outside during filming of the movie "Fences," based on the play by August Wilson, in Pittsburgh's West End.


On today's program: Pittsburgh Public Schools look to lower the number of arrests at District schools; and Pittsburgh’s film industry prepares to return to work. 

PPS is “reimagining security and safety,” says superintendent
(00:00 — 10:22)

With cities across the country considering the changes they may want to make to policing in their communities, advocates are calling on Pittsburgh Public Schools to remove police officers from school buildings. They say data indicates that school police cause disproportionate harm to Black and brown students and contribute to the school to prison pipeline.

But the superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools,Anthony Hamlet, says schools still need police.

“Even if we did eliminate school resource officers, if there was something criminal that took place, we would still, as a school or district, have to call the city police to come and do the arrest,” Hamlet says.

Hamlet recently announced plans to create a team to evaluate the District’s progress under a K-2 suspension moratorium for non-violent infractions and a potential expansion of the ban, which he says can help lead to fewer arrests.

He says district officials have to look at all sides to make sound decisions about students’ safety. “Our school resource officers and police officers play a vital role at this time in our schools. But what we’re committed to again is reimagining security and safety in our buildings and how that looks.”

Lights, camera, and ready for action
(10:23 — 18:03)

The Pittsburgh region is now in the green phase. Businesses are opening and adjusting to the “new normal,” including social distancing precautions, and Pittsburgh’s film industry is ready to get back to work after a three-month, nationwide hiatus.

Dawn Keezer, director of thePittsburgh Film Office, says that although spring and early summer productions were disrupted by the shutdown, local crews are prepared to start working by the end of the summer. 

According to Keezer, the region’s relatively low number of COVID-19 cases could help bring more productions to the area.

“Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania is still at the top of the mind of many production companies and studios and they all are looking for a safe place to go. Fortunately, our COVID rate is very low.”

According to Keezer, she gets calls daily asking if the local film industry is "open for business."

“We’re still in a good spot competitively to get the work,” she says. “We just need to figure out a way to safely get everybody back to work.” 

Keezer says commercials will be the first productions to resume by early July, and crews could start filming Showtime's series "Rust" starring Jeff Daniels in late August.


The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Doug Shugarts is a 23-year veteran of broadcast news. Doug began his career at WBUR in Boston, where he worked on the nationally-syndicated programs “The Connection” and “Here and Now.” He won awards for best use of sound, coverage of the 2003 war in Iraq, and helped launch the station’s local news program, “Radio Boston.” In 2014 Doug moved across town to GBH and helped reboot morning news programming and launch other broadcast and web projects. Doug studied Composition at Berklee College of Music and Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of California. A resident of Pittsburgh’s Southside, Doug enjoys feasting on arepas and yucca fries at Cilantro and Ajo and meeting his canine neighbors at Big Dog Coffee.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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