Factory Graduate Plays Supporting Role on STARZ Series “The Chair”
The Pittsburgh region has had its fair share of big Hollywood productions in recent years. Films such as The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher, and Out of the Furnace have brought a lot of attention to Western Pennsylvania. Due to advantageous tax breaks and diverse scenery for locations, West Coast producers have opted to travel east to film their movies. This has led to many opportunities for local talent to get industry exposure.
The most recent production to wrap up in Pittsburgh is “The Chair,” which is currently airing on the Starz network. “’The Chair’ is a documentary series that follows two directors while they make their version of the same script with the same budget and resources,” says Phil Rush, a local filmmaker who plays a prominent role as Assistant Director to first-time director Shane Dawson.
Rush, 40, is a graduate of The Factory Digital Filmmaking Program at Douglas Education Center (DEC) in Monessen, PA. He was hired by YouTube sensation Shane Dawson to assist on his version of the script, Not Cool, after first meeting with producers of the competing film project.
“Shane’s movie is a bit more on the raw side of the comedic line,” says Rush. “His humor and personality seemed to align more with my sense of humor, and it just felt like the better fit for me.”
In contrast, Hollidaysburg, the film based on the same script which is directed by Anna Martemucci, portrays the same characters and theme with a more dramatic tone.
“The Chair” is the first reality series to put different directors in front of the camera while simultaneously filming their own versions of the same script. Created by Chris Moore, the Executive Producer behind Emmy-nominated “Project Greenlight,” the show revolves around two up-and-coming directors who are each given a $600,000 budget to make an independent picture with their vision, using the backdrop of Pittsburgh. Viewers will vote on each film and the winning director will receive $250,000.
Having cameras turned around on him didn’t bother Rush. He wasn’t in it to become a TV star.
“The best part about being involved in this project was getting to make a wonderful movie,” says Rush. “Appearing in the show was incidental. My primary interest is making movies.”
Rush, who grew up in West Mifflin and lives there today, was part of the first class to attend the Factory Digital Filmmaking Program at DEC. Since graduating in 2009, he has worked on such movies as The Dark Knight Rises, The Cemetery, and The Hunted. Rush returned to the school earlier this year as an instructor to pass his real world knowledge on to students.
“There are thousands upon thousands of people who want to make movies or work in the entertainment industry. If you want to succeed in film, you have to work harder than everyone else. That starts in the classroom. DEC has all of the tools you need to get moving in the right direction.”