Flex your amateur filmmaking skills for Steeltown's all-ages Lights, Camera, Quarantine contest | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Flex your amateur filmmaking skills for Steeltown's all-ages Lights, Camera, Quarantine contest


You don't need a film degree or high-tech equipment to enter the latest competition from Steeltown, a local nonprofit that works to support the local film and television industry. All you need is a camera or smartphone, and a bit of creativity.

The Lights, Camera, Quarantine contest encourages Pittsburgh residents of all ages to make short films in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Submissions can be any genre as long as they are shot using only available resources, no longer than five minutes, and PG-13 (no nudity, violence, explicit language — you get the gist). They must also address the isolation-related theme of “Home.”

Steeltown program director Mary Ann McBride-Tackett says they launched the contest as a way to engage filmmakers sidelined due to the coronavirus, as well as to possibly spark something in people who "maybe toyed with the idea of filmmaking but never took that next step."


"As advocates and champions for our local filmmaking community, we immediately saw the struggles filmmakers were facing, both financially and creatively, and felt it our duty to step up and provide some respite," says McBride-Tacket. "We just thought this is what our community needs from us right now: a platform. We wanted to provide for them that space to be heard as well as the motivation to keep moving and keep creating."

She adds that while they expect to see different styles, mediums, and experience levels, they will "end up with a very unified emotion from people, and the hope is that from that, people everywhere can feel a little more connected and a little less alone."

The contest will be judged in two categories: youth (19 and under) and adult (over 19). Cash prizes — $100 for youth and $200 for adults — will be awarded based on community voting via YouTube likes.

McBride-Tackett says the contest adds to Steeltown's mission of supporting the growth and education of the filmmaking community in Pittsburgh. "In hosting this contest, we're hoping to continue that trajectory by virtually reconnecting old filmmaking friends, welcoming new faces, and growing our circle even more. Providing the space for the organic influence that art and creators can have on one another is often the best way for artists to learn and expand their craft."


It addition to this contest, Steeltown will also host a virtual version of its regular Crew Connect networking event, where filmmakers can pitch themselves or their project to a room in hopes of finding their next gig or crew. The event will take place on Zoom on Tue., April 14 from 6-8 p.m.

All entries must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Fri., April 3. Voting will commence via the Steeltown YouTube channel’s designated playlists (one for each level) no later than Mon., April 6, 2020. YouTube voting will close at 4 p.m. on Fri., April 10.

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