Editor’s Note: As Pittsburgh celebrates its big 250, Andrew Halasz and Kristen Lauth Shaeffer have found their own way to commemorate the city – through a series of short films collectively titled Pittsburgh Neighborhood Narratives. To make their project even more interesting, Halasz and Shaeffer invited local filmmakers to submit story treatments highlighting one of the many diverse neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. This article is the second in a series profiling each of the filmmakers selected for participation. Be sure to check back in two weeks for the next profile, as Jason Georgiades explains why he chose Bloomfield for the setting of his film.
You swear you’ll never have children. You’re too independent, too impatient, and, have no time for dirty diapers and mashed bananas.
But then one by one, your friends give way to marriage and parenthood, leaving you to ponder your once ideal bohemian lifestyle.
And so sets the scene for “Mombies” … Gabrielle Reznek’s and Sam Turich’s short film addressing the unexpected and contagious nature of motherhood.
Their story was birthed (pun intended) from their own experience as new 30-something parents and takes place in the “mombified” neighborhood of Lawrenceville. The idea for the film’s title – Mombies – is a play off of “Zombies: Night of the Living Dead,” but Gab was quick to point out that, unlike their zombie counterparts, Mombies are not actually dead. They are the undead, and “sooner or later, they’ll get you,” she explained. “They have a kind of ethereal glow to them.”
In fact, the original title for the film was “Mombies: Night of the Living Bred,” but they dropped the second half early on. It now just goes by “Mombies.”
The comparison to zombies is not an unfair one, however. Since having their baby, Gab and Sam have learned that, for the first 6-12 months, “parenthood turns you more or less into zombies.” Their beloved baby is now 10 months old.
The couple used to live in Brooklyn, N.Y., and slowly watched as “mombification” transformed once hip, artistic neighborhoods into headquarters of what Sam jokingly referred to as “the stroller mafia.”
“We were living the dream. And then, all of a sudden, everyone started getting pregnant and getting ‘real’ jobs. And soon enough, it happened,” said Sam, referring to the maternal outbreak.
He and Gab also see Lawrenceville as a community in transition.
“The artists who moved in to renovate the neighborhood are watching in surprise as more mainstream families move in to areas that have now become ‘cool.’ Or, to their horror, are raising families of their own.”
Sam and Gab, who call Lawrenceville home, hope to capture this titanic clash of forces in their film. They wrapped up shooting mid-April and are now in post-production.
“There is this great scene where the heroine is screaming down Butler Street with a pack of mombies running after her,” laughs Sam.
According to Gab, Lawrenceville was extremely supportive of the film. Local suppliers donated food and equipment, and she and Sam had no trouble securing locations to shoot the film. As for casting, the local “mommy group” happily stepped up to the role of “mombies.”
The weather and Mother Nature were also cooperative.
“We wanted bare trees and naked branches to give Allegheny Cemetery that stark look. We were racing against spring to finish shooting before the buds came in,” recalls Gab.
Interestingly, the production of The Road (with Viggo Mortensen), which was shooting in the area at the same time, had a similar problem according to the New York Times.
“We really learned what kind of a neighborhood Lawrenceville is,” said Gab, “There’s a lot of life underneath the whole Lawrenceville identity.”