April will be anything but the cruelest month for filmmaking in Pittsburgh.
"Promised Land," a Gus Van Sant movie starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand, is looking for office space and advertising for crew on the Pittsburgh Film Office website and could start production in late April.
In addition, "Out of the Furnace" directed by Scott Cooper ("Crazy Heart") and starring Christian Bale and Robert Duvall is headed to Braddock and elsewhere, according to the film office and State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny. "Out of the Furnace" is also accepting resumes for crew, according to the job listings portion of the film office site.
Mr. Costa issued a press release Tuesday afternoon touting the 250-plus full-time jobs the $45 million movie will bring. "Filming will begin this spring and run for approximately 16 weeks," he said.
However, Relativity Media, which is producing "Out of the Furnace," had no comment Tuesday afternoon. The trade publication Variety has pointed out that producers are aiming for a late spring start but Relativity has not yet green lit the picture or firmed up deals with the actors, including Mr. Bale, Mr. Duvall and Zoe Saldana, in "early talks" for the project.
Variety has described the movie as a gritty throwback to 1970s movies, originally based on Brad Ingelsby's script "The Low Dweller" and revised by Mr. Cooper. It's about an ex-convict torn between his freedom and the temptation to avenge his brother's death.
Mr. Cooper directed Jeff Bridges to an Oscar as a broken-down country singer in "Crazy Heart" and helped Maggie Gyllenhaal score a nomination for supporting actress.
Talking about Mr. Damon, who came here in 1998 to make "Dogma" with director Kevin Smith, film office director Dawn Keezer said Tuesday, "We're happy to welcome him back to southwestern Pennsylvania."
Mr. Damon, who won an Oscar for co-writing "Good Will Hunting" with Ben Affleck, had planned to direct the movie but changed his mind due to scheduling issues, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He co-wrote the drama with Mr. Krasinski, best known for "The Office" but a big-screen actor with credits such as "Big Miracle," "It's Complicated" and "Away We Go."
The trade publication says Mr. Damon will portray a salesman who arrives in a small town, only to have his life changed.
Mr. Van Sant is an Oscar-nominated director for "Milk" and "Good Will Hunting" -- movies which earned Academy Awards for Sean Penn, supporting actor Robin Williams and their screenwriters. "Having the acclaimed director Gus Van Sant in town is great. We're thrilled to have him for this production and hope he comes back for many, many more," Ms. Keezer said.
The return of Mr. Damon and, perhaps, Batman minus cape and cowl is the message the film office wants to send. "What it does is it tells the story that we always say, once people come to Southwestern Pennsylvania, see it and experience it, they want to come back. We're getting to showcase that now."
She anticipated no problem providing crews for both movies.
"We've been running four and five productions at a time. Thanks to the success of the Pennsylvania film tax credit program, we have quadrupled our local crew base and as the amount of work continues to increase in the film industry, we expect the crew to grow as well."
Both movies are expected to take advantage of the tax credit which, in the past, lured such projects as "One Shot" and "Perks of Being a Wallflower" to Pittsburgh.
One movie that has dropped off the radar, however, is Charlie Kaufman's "Frank or Francis," a musical satire about a film director and an online blogger.
" 'Frank or Francis' is not starting production at this point. We're hoping they may put this deal together and still make the movie at some point in the near future but at this point, it's not shooting in Western Pennsylvania," Ms. Keezer said.
That scenario proves that until the cameras roll, nothing is ever definite.