No joke: Jewish comedian Steve Hofstetter is starring in an indie thriller filmed inside a former Pittsburgh church.
The filming of “Overhaul” just wrapped, and a first draft is set to be edited by mid-February, Hoftstetter said. The movie then will be shopped around to buyers and hopefully distributed to various networks.
“The look of the film is gorgeous — they really did a really wonderful job with it — and so we are very confident that it's going to sell,” he said.
“Overhaul,” which was written by fellow comedian Jay Black, is a “revenge flick” that follows a brother and sister who run an architecture firm and are being hunted throughout Pittsburgh.
Hofstetter plays Michael, the brother. “Overhaul” is the comedian’s fifth film, and his largest role yet.
“This was really like 11 days of very intense shooting where I'm doing two or three scenes a day. And it was a lot; it was a challenge,” he said.
While starring in a film is a departure from stand-up comedy, Hofstetter said it was a great experience, and “different from what I normally do.”
Hofstetter is the chair of Steel City Arts Foundation, a self-described “live/work/play environment for comedians in Pittsburgh.” He wants the Stanton Heights-based property — the former Stanton Heights United Methodist Church — to be a communal hub and a neighborhood partner.
“While Steel City AF is still awaiting zoning to open to the public, we're continuing to push forward with development,” according to publicist Taylor Fowler.
“Overhaul,” like Steel City AF, is a means of promoting the city, Hoftstetter said.
“A lot of people who aren't from Pittsburgh, or who haven't spent much time in Pittsburgh, just picture it as this cold steel town where everything is in black and white and covered in soot,” he said. “And that simply isn't the case. Showcasing it the way that we're hoping to do, I think is good for the city economically, which would then be good for raising money to fix our bridges.”
Hofstetter, who also serves as an executive producer of the film, said he’s particularly proud of the jobs created by “Overhaul.”
“The majority of the actors, the vast majority of the crew, were all local,” he said.
Noticeable exceptions, he said, include comedians Michael Ian Black and Frank Caliendo, who make cameos.
Although “Overhaul” serves as a “love letter” to Pittsburgh, there’s also a brief shoutout to Hofstetter’s Jewish heritage. Within one of the scenes, perceptive viewers will notice holiday items formerly belonging to Hofstetter’s late father.
“It's ironic to use this term, but I got to put in some Easter eggs,” Hofstetter said.
The comedian is optimistic about both the movie and the city.
“I think that there's a lot of room for Pittsburgh to bring in more of an entertainment sector,” he said.
That optimism is shared by state Sen. Jay Costa (D-District 43).
Following the passage of a $42.8 billion state budget for fiscal year 2023, which included a $30 million boost to the Film Tax Credit Program, Costa said in a statement: “Make no mistake —this is a major victory for the working people of Pennsylvania, especially in western Pennsylvania. This investment is going to attract movie and TV productions alike to our region and stimulate local economies. Not only is this a win for those individuals who work directly in the entertainment and production space, but it’s also a boon for the businesses that will reap the benefits of national and worldwide productions using their towns and neighborhoods as a home base. Our workforce stands ready, and we’re looking forward to the economic impact this will have in the state.”
Hofstetter is likewise enthusiastic about Pittsburgh’s future as an entertainment-making space: “I really do believe that this could be the Rust Belt Hollywood if we really work at it.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.