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Above: FCC President Melissa Gallagher and her husband were zombie extras in the movie ‘Spineview.”
There’s only one thing worse than having people in your neighborhood who loiter, vandalize and steal, and that’s having zombies in your neighborhood who loiter, vandalize and steal.
Just ask Fineview.
Pop Up Pittsburgh!, a project that brings art to Pittsburgh communities, came to Fineview in May of 2011 and shot film throughout the hilly neighborhood behind Allegheny General Hospital to create the Northside’s first ever horror movie, which will premiere tonight at The New Hazlett Theater.
Titled “Spineview,” the movie tells the story of a neighborhood, once quiet and peaceful, that becomes overrun with hungry undead with a penchant for misdemeanors. The neighborhood’s fate lies with a 12-year-old filmmaker, a professor and a hot girl with a classic zombie smashing baseball bat.
“For a bunch of amateurs with no budget, I think it turned out pretty well,” said Christopher Whitlatch, who worked on the project as part of Pop Up Pittsburgh! and is the marketing and communications manager at The Pittsburgh Foundation.
The project began in the classroom of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., in 2011 where a class of up and coming leaders from various nonprofits and businesses across the city came up with the plan for a project in Fineview.
The class was given the assignment to create a Pop Up art project in Fineview that brought positive attention to the neighborhood, outsiders to Fineview and Fineview residents “out of their houses to view and experience their neighborhood in a different way,” said Danielle Tyson, project manager at Leadership Pittsburgh.
She explained that Fineview was chosen because it is part of one of Pittsburgh’s “Champion Neighborhoods,” named by the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development.
The class in collaboration with the Luma Institute, the class brainstormed and came up with an idea that both captured a unique aspect of Pittsburgh’s on-screen history and also served as a convenient metaphor for community development – Zombies.
“As a class, we decided it would be cool if we could play on Pittsburgh’s iconic past history of zombies,” Whitlatch said. “It’s not your standard zombie film. You don’t get infected and become hungry from flesh. Zombies are a metaphor for issues and problems that can impact a neighborhood. In Spineview, you become a zombie when you stop believing in your neighborhood.”
The filming took place on May 21, 2011. But rather than a serious film set, it was a free and one day only family friendly event called “Lights! Camera! Fineview!”
The class and Leadership Pittsburgh teamed up with the Fineview Citizens Council and recruited Fineview residents to as zombified extras.
Other zombie enthusiasts made their way to Fineview to be in the movie, enjoy free food and celebrate Zombie Awareness Month.
The movie was filmed in conjunction with Point Park University’s digital production department and the Douglas School in Monessen provided makeup.
FCC president and long-time zombie fan Melissa Gallagher and her husband were extras in the movie, playing blood-thirsty zombies for the afternoon.
“It was definitely cool,” said Gallagher. “It was great to be a part of something in our own neighborhood that is going to be remembered.”
Gallagher described the movie as “a hilarious and groundbreaking short film dedicated to Fineview; one of Pittsburgh’s Northside hidden gem neighborhoods,” and encouraged Northsiders to come out and see their neighbors’ on-screen debuts.
The film will begin at 6:30 p.m. at The New Hazlett Theater in Allegheny Square. Admission is free and after “Spineview,” there will also be a screening of “The Trail,” which documents a local filmmakers’ bik