Cicadas and COVID define night of movies by Pittsburgh filmmakers | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Cicadas and COVID define night of movies by Pittsburgh filmmakers

click to enlarge Cicadas and COVID define night of movies by Pittsburgh filmmakers
Photo: Courtesy of Locust Street Media
The Hit by Lance Parkin, part of CICADA: A Night of Pittsburgh Premieres
Lance Parkin has dedicated much of his filmmaking career to scaring people. The Pittsburgh writer/director, producer, and actor released Theo & the Professor, a web series with nods to monster-of-the-week shows like Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and in 2021, paid homage to horror movies like The Hills Have Eyes with his Appalachian survival thriller The Boonies.

Despite a clear preference for the genre, Parkin and his creative collective, Locust Street Media, will soon highlight local film that covers more than horror.

On Sat., April 13, Locust Street Media will present CICADA: A Night of Pittsburgh Premieres at the Oaks Theater. The event includes four shorts from the collective and new films by other creators that touch on various subjects.

click to enlarge Cicadas and COVID define night of movies by Pittsburgh filmmakers
Photo: Courtesy of Locust Street Media
Scarecrow by Blacksheep'd and Rich Williams, part of CICADA: A Night of Pittsburgh Premieres
Parkin tells Pittsburgh City Paper that CICADA originally started as a premiere for the Locust Street shorts only. He decided to draw on his background in producing and presenting film festivals to turn it into what he calls a "community event."

He sees CICADA as a return to filmmaking after the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"[COVID] and personal struggles the last few years were tough on us all," he says. "Our group had made a feature and [COVID] then had slowed down our creative production significantly. Personal struggles didn’t help matters."

click to enlarge Cicadas and COVID define night of movies by Pittsburgh filmmakers
Photo: Courtesy of Locust Street Media
Burying Baby by Jess Paul and produced by Bit Sized Productions, part of CICADA: A Night of Pittsburgh Premieres
This re-emergence of sorts is reflected in the event title's reference to the insect known for staying underground for up to 17 years. The timing could not be more perfect, given recent news reports that trillions of cicadas are expected to be unleashed upon the U.S., among them a rash of hypersexual, fungus-infected "zombie cicadas."

Parkin says the films are "unified by a metaphor of the life cycle of the cicada," and that the creators "come from varied backgrounds and disciplines with the intention to have a well-rounded exploration of the night’s theme."

"The four shorts we will be premiering are indicative of our creative rediscovery in the wake of both worldwide and personal trials," says Parkin. "So not only will we show eight locally produced films most of which are premieres — I will also be briefly sitting down with the creators behind every film to discuss themes of persevering, creativity, and collaboration."

The Locust Street films include three shorts by Parkin, The Stranger, The Act, and The Hit, and DEAD, the debut from director Jeff Smee that follows a man who "learns what it means to find a connection" after breaking his phone at a party.

click to enlarge Cicadas and COVID define night of movies by Pittsburgh filmmakers
Photo: Courtesy of Locust Street Media
DEAD by Jeff Smee, part of CICADA: A Night of Pittsburgh Premieres
In addition to the Locust Street works, audiences will see an "exclusive sneak peek" of a film short made in Croatia by local filmmakers; Purple by 3BT Films, which follows a young couple that "tries to find their way back to normal following an assault"; Scarecrow by Blacksheep'd and Rich Williams, described as a cat-and-mouse game set in a cornfield; and Burying Baby, a "brief and tender glimpse of walking through grief" written by Jess Paul and produced by Bit Sized Productions.

The night will also include a cocktail social hour before the screening program.

"It's going to be a really fun night which is designed to not only be entertaining for the audience (whether you are familiar with our community or not) but also is intended to be connective between creators and the creators to the audience," says Parkin.
CICADA: A Night of Pittsburgh Premieres. 8 p.m. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Oaks Theater. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. $10. theoakstheater.com

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