Pittsburgh film industry on hold, leaving thousands without jobs and $170 million revenue loss

Pittsburgh film industry on hold due to COVID-19, leaving thousands without jobs

PITTSBURGH — The film industry brought more than $500 million to Pennsylvania in 2019, but with productions on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, film crews in Pittsburgh are out of work.

Thousands of people in the industry have been without jobs for months.

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Eileen Sieff Stroup has worked in films for almost 40 years. She was the costume supervisor for the movie “Sweet Girl” with Jason Mamoa, which wrapped up shooting on March 4.

Then the pandemic hit, and Stroup hasn’t worked since.

“As you can tell from talking to me, I’m a pretty tough person. I run a crew of 20 people,” Stroup said. “I’m a very organized, tough lady. And there are days when I don’t wanna get up.”

Casey Larocco, a licensed practical nurse, has been a set medic on many of the films shot in Pittsburgh for over a decade.

He is also one of the 5,000 people involved in local film work who lost their jobs.

“All the work stopped, then everyone had to file for unemployment,” Larocco said. “And then we could not get through to unemployment.”

Pittsburgh is ranked No. 5 in the country for film production, according to FILMLA. The Pittsburgh Film Office said the shutdown has had a trickle-down effect to the southwestern Pa. economy – a $170 million loss this year.

While some TV commercials are in production right now in the city, film work is not – leaving some crews in limbo.

The Pittsburgh Film Office told Channel 11 three TV shows, one on Showtime and two on Netflix, were scheduled to be shot in Pittsburgh in 2020.

But for now, that is not going to happen.

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