If Fineview is known, it is known for its fine view and its annual Step-a-thon. But the truth is, Fineview isn’t very well known.
When Leadership Pittsburgh’s class of 2011 was looking for a neighborhood to feature for the annual LP Pop Up! event, one funder spoke up for Fineview as a neighborhoofd “that needed some positive attention and had potential to be really cool,” said Danielle Tyson, program manager for LP.
The leadership class visited Fineview residents and dined with them in their homes and came up with some ideas. The one that won out was a Pop Up! event that featured a movie set in which vigilant neighbors were pitted against... you guessed it, zombies.
LP worked with Point Park University film students to make “Spineview,” a campy documentary/mockumentary/zombie hybrid film that mixes horror with community activism — a combo that isn't such a stretch.
"Spineview" will have its world debut Thursday night as part of a double-feature at the New Hazlett Theater in Allegheny Center. The doors open at 6.30p for a social hour that includes a cash bar, and the double-feature begins at 7.30p. The movies are free.
Here’s LP’s pitch for the movie:
“Fineview was a beautiful neighborhood... until the zombies came. Now it’s overrun by legions of loitering, graffiti-spraying, hungry undead. The neighborhood’s only hope rests with a twelve year-old filmmaker, an eccentric professor, and a hot girl with a baseball bat."
Mel Gallagher, a resident of Fineview, said she and her husband John both volunteered to be zombies. "We are avid zombie fans and were so excited when we moved to Pittsburgh because it is the zombie capital of the world. The ad for the filming was 'come be a zombie for a day.'
"In this movie, zombies represent blight and decay, which is an issue in every community -- not just abandoned buildings but crime and vandalism."
Not that Fineview has much of any of that, but the movie helps to highlight the importance of being vigilant, she said. The filming "got people to our neighborhood who had never been to Fineview, to take part in the movie. It was a good experience for the neighbors," at least 30 of whom were in the movie as zombies or as residents who were interviewed about Fineview."
The other movie is “The Trail,” described as “a love letter to Western Pennsylvania and the bicycling life.” It is a documentary in which write Robert Isenberg pedals 326 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal. “An ordinary bike commuter,” according to the description of the movie, “Isenberg weathers rainstorms, fatigue, and the loneliness of the open road — and explores some of the most beautiful country in Appalachia.”
Photo: Members of the cast of "Spineview" during a day of shooting, courtesy of Leadership Pittsburgh.