In a way unlike other major U. S. cities, Pittsburgh is comfortable saying that zombies lead the way.
These aren’t your typical legions of the undead, though. These zombies are under the watchful eye of PopUp! Pittsburgh and the Leadership Development Initiative of Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc.
This year’s LDI class is presenting a community event entitled “Lights! Camera! Fineview!” on May 21. This event will showcase areas of the Fineview neighborhood and will feature the filming of a scene of the LDI’s Fineview documentary —a documentary that also happens to feature zombies.
“We wanted to make a film about Fineview first for its spectacular views,” said Talia Piazza, chairman of the Marketing and Outreach Committee for PopUp! Pittsburgh, “but we also wanted to use the huge zombie presence we found in our research.”
Melissa Gallagher is one community member who is part of that presence. She is also president of the Fineview Citizens Council. She describes herself as an “avid zombie movie enthusiast” and participates in zombie events throughout the city.
“I believe this film will become a part of the great zombie film history that Pittsburgh is so well-known for and it will become a piece of Fineview’s history, as well,” Gallagher said in an e-mail.
As entertaining as the walking dead are, however, both Piazza and Gallagher stressed the significance of the zombies’ role in the film. Gallagher noted that the film uses zombies to show “the blight and disconnect of people and places and how to overcome it.”
Piazza described the zombies as playing the disinvested, saying that the film shows how people become zombies when they don’t care about their community and their surroundings.
“PopUp! Pittsburgh focuses on the strengths and the challenges of a neighborhood,” Piazza said. “We want to make our presence known and leave the community engaged when we leave.”
Gallagher also hopes the PopUp! event will re-engage community members and draw awareness to the neighborhood. She would not only like to address the challenges faced in the community, but also showcase the positive aspects of Fineview, including its views of Downtown and its affordability.
Lights! Action! Fineview! marks a different approach from previous PopUp! Pittsburgh events. “PopUp! has done community days in the past,” said Piazza, “but we wanted to leave something behind — something lasting.”
That something is, of course, the film, which is being produced with help from Point Park University. Piazza explained that the LDI class came up with the concept and the script, but then passed the project on to the professionals at Point Park.
A date for the premiere of the film has not yet been set, but Piazza hopes there will be screenings in a number of local theatres. The film, entitled “Spineview,” will also be available on DVD, and will possibly be submitted to festivals.
Anyone attending the PopUp! Pittsburgh event on the 21st will have the opportunity to be an extra in the film, as well as partake of the food and activities set up around the neighborhood. Even though the event is only for half the day, its impact will extend much further than that, Piazza said.
“Our class is very excited,” she said. “With Spineview, we’re trying to paint a picture of Fineview’s past, present, and its possibilities for the future.”
Hopefully, that future will only feature zombies on the screen, and not on the streets.