Movie filmed here results in gifts to Clairton City School District

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The movie "I Won't Back Down" won't be released until spring, but it already has produced some happy endings locally.

Sixty new desks and other school supplies, including globes, bulletin boards and books, were delivered last week to the Clairton City School District, a gift of Walden Media, which used the items in the production of the movie.

The film, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, was shot in Pittsburgh last summer. It is about two women who join forces to transform an inner city school.

Another truckload of school supplies and equipment from the movie set is expected to be delivered to Clairton this week.

"We are just so grateful for all of this," said Clairton superintendent Wayde Killmeyer. "It was such a generous donation."

Mr. Killmeyer said Clairton has seen an increase in enrollment this year and the new extra desks will be put to use. He said they likely will be used at the high school level since they are designed for older students.

The gifts to the Clairton district were arranged through the Consortium for Public Education, whose staff developed a relationship with Walden Media, a film production and publishing company, during the production of the film. That relationship came about because of line producer Mylan Stepanovich, whose father Myles, is a former superintendent of McKeesport Area School District, said Stephen Seliy, associate executive director of the Consortium for Public Education.

In addition to the gifts to Clairton, Walden Media is donating more than 45 cartons of books to the consortium's campaign, "Fifth Food Group: Food for the Mind," helping the effort to reach its goal of collecting 1 million books for local students to promote early literacy. The goal was set a decade ago.

Walden's donations are a generous gesture as production companies often sell or auction off props after filming is finished.

At the time the film was being shot in Pittsburgh -- much of it in Squirrel Hill -- its title was "Steel Town," but the name has since been changed to "I Won't Back Down."

The donated desks, school supplies and books are not the only benefits local students reaped from the movie.

During the filming, high school students from several Pittsburgh high schools and Elizabeth-Forward, McKeesport, West Mifflin, Steel Valley, Clairton and Gateway got to visit the movie set at various locations to get a firsthand look at film making

The high school students who visited the set were working on documentary projects through the consortium and the Pittsburgh Foundation depicting how state budget cuts affected their school districts. Those documentaries will be shown in the future, Mr. Seliy said.


Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com ; 412-851-1512.


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