Let's Talk About Art: Films tell community stories

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Gretchen Neidert

Tucked away on the second floor at the Pittsburgh Filmmakers headquarters in Oakland is a little department doing great things. Production Services makes films for community nonprofits and social service organizations in the Pittsburgh area.

Senior producer Gretchen Neidert heads the department, directing and managing each production along with Jeremy Fleishman and a small crew of interns.

"Filmmaking is absolutely a team effort," Ms. Neidert says. Each project involves a different group of people with various skills and expertise. Staff, students and members of Pittsburgh Filmmakers often work on set, along with professional freelance videographers, sound recordists, editors and musicians.

Ms. Neidert earned a bachelor of arts degree in theater at the University of Evansville (Ind.), before heading to New York City. There, she began to explore filmmaking.

While learning the post-production process, she fell in love with editing. "It's a little like making music, and a little like sewing or building, and a little like writing," she explains. "We ask people to tell us about their world. I'm hooked on that -- a storytelling medium in which real life can be the story."

After visiting Pittsburgh and seeing what the city had to offer young film/video artists, Ms. Neidert moved here in 2008.

Production Services recently documented the Master Visual Artists awardees honored at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The 10 selected artists (all 60 or older) have had long accomplished careers and are still creating art.

"We got to watch these amazing artists at work in their studios and ask them questions while they worked."

Ms. Neidert and her crew worked 10-15 hours with each artist and many more hours in the editing room. "Total -- about 100 hours per artist," she says about the labor of love.

"As my admiration for these artists grew, the bar for the videos was set higher and higher. Our crew had to be ready for anything," she says, "and they were."

Production Services is visiting regional farmers to document how they benefit from composting as part of a project for Pennsylvania Resources Council. Other coming projects include videos for The Ellis School, an all-girls private school in Shadyside, and the Fair Housing Project Pittsburgh.

View videos made by Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Production Services at: https://vimeo.com/channels/pfproduction.

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