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Oscars 2017: Fences filmed in Pittsburgh

FencesDenzel Washington filmed his movie adaptation of August Wilson’s play Fences in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Wilson grew up.

Fences tells the story of the strained relationships an African-American city sanitation worker has with his wife and son in 1950s Pittsburgh.

The film was nominated for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards.

Washington stars in the film and also directed and produced. Location filming took place for 39 shoot days in a historically African-American part of the city where the story is set.

“The primary home was in the Hill District of Pittsburgh,” said Steve Bittle of the Pittsburgh Film Office (PFO), in comments to KFTV. “This home was chosen by Denzel Washington as he felt that area of the Hill District was key to the story.” 

“I didn’t know what the Hill was until I got there and started seeing and meeting the people,” said Washington. “I wanted to be in Pittsburgh – no question – on the Hill.

“The area where August lived – the lower Hill – was gone. We went further up and we found some streets that were intact. Just take the bars off the windows and change the cars.”

The PFO assisted Washington and his team by co-ordinating with city and government agencies.

For more on filming in Pennsylvania and for local contacts see our production guide.

“In addition the PFO worked with some of the general scouting in the early stages of the production and worked with the locations department of the production on securing permits and coordinating traffic issues,” said Bittle.

Pittsburgh has historically been a popular location for US productions, partly because of its 25% filming incentive. However, state authorities have long been under pressure to increase the incentive’s annual film fund above $60m, a figure that the production industry says hampers the state’s ability to be truly competitive with filming hubs in other parts of the country.

In recent years Pittsburgh has hosted filming for Tom Cruise’s vigilante feature Jack Reacher and Jake Gyllenhaal’s boxing movie Southpaw. Christopher Nolan used the city as a stand-in for Gotham in his third Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.

Image: David Lee/Paramount Pictures