Scene from the movie ‘A Man Called Otto’ filmed at Oakmont Church, without a man called Tom Hanks
Oakmont resident Kassandra Stotler held her sons, Glenn and Billy, outside St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church.
They were looking at people you don’t normally see in town. Crews moved cars, trucks, cameras and equipment down Delaware Avenue and Fourth Street.
The place of worship a few blocks from the business district became the site of a funeral in Hollywood on March 24.
Portions of nearby roads were closed that day for the filming of Tom Hanks’ film ‘A Man Called Otto’.
The film is the English language adaptation of a 2015 Swedish comedy based on Fredrik Backman’s bestselling 2012 novel. Hanks stars as a “grumpy retiree (who) strikes up an unlikely friendship with his rowdy new neighbors,” according to IMdb.com.
The crews had set things up a few days before.
The multiple Oscar winner was not on set. This did not dampen the excitement of the young spectators.
“I’m excited,” said 5-year-old Billy. “I really want to watch this movie.”
Seven-year-old Glenn said it was fun to watch people in action.
“I got to know the machine that holds the camera, and there’s a guy that says ‘cut’ and ‘break’,” Glenn said. “I would just like to run (the set).”
One of the crew members gave donuts to the children.
Workers at the scene declined to comment on the shooting.
Oakmont Bakery owner Marc Serrao said production crews visited his store. He would not confirm if any actors had stopped.
“We make baked goods that should appear in the movie,” Serrao said. “The hotel company buys baked goods for the crews. We spoke to people from California who stopped by the bakery for food. It’s very exciting and we hope to see some famous faces in town before filming wraps up in Oakmont.
There was fake snow in front of the church. A guy was seen repeatedly spraying the church sign and other areas with water between takes.
“It’s amazing to see all the infrastructure that goes into making a few minutes of film,” Stotler said. “They’ve been running wires and cables and working and it’s just astounding to see the amount of work that goes into what could only be a few minutes (on screen).
“Everyone knows what he’s doing. Everything is professional. Everything is clean. Everything is tidy. It’s very interesting. It’s exciting to think about something different happening (in the borough). I’m glad it’s only once in a while.
Resident Mary Boscia said she was not surprised the church was selected to be on screen.
“It’s great for the community to be showcased in this way, and it’s wonderful to see such a beautiful church,” Boscia said. “I’ve never been inside the church, so I can’t comment on that. It’s quite impressive from the outside.
“I wondered how it happened. There had to be a scout or something looking for a particular type of church in a particular type of town. Oakmont is a really nice neighborhood atmosphere. There are small shops there and a lot of variety in the houses. It’s not like being in a housing plan. It dates back to the 1800s. You have a bit of new, a bit of old.
Resident Sharon Delp attempted to get her pet, a British Golden Retriever, into the film.
“I have a dog named Otto,” Delp said. “I was walking him here earlier and I went up to the crew and said, ‘Do you need a dog named Otto? They went, ‘Wow. Don’t call us. We will call you.’
The parish obtained its charter in 1874. However, the church was not built until 1906.
Reverend Jeff Murph has been with St. Thomas for 27 years.
He said he was prohibited from discussing the compensation the church received for its use.
The daycare/nursery school was closed on the day of the shoot. The church was open and celebrating mass.
“It was a very positive experience for us,” Murph said. “It was kind of a distraction, but it was great. The people we worked with were uniformly very friendly, kind and accommodating. They were all nice.
He said there must have been around 100 people, including the cast and crew, at the church.
“I think it caught people’s attention,” Murph said. “I could see there were a lot of people crossing on the sidewalk. It’s not something you see on a daily basis in a city like this. I was happy that we were chosen. I think it was good for the city and certainly for our church. It is a historic landmark in Oakmont and part of the history and heritage of this community.
Other filming locations in March included Ambridge, where Hanks took a break from the action to greet a resident and her son. The Hollywood icon also snapped photos with a wedding party outside the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel.
It wasn’t the first time Hollywood had come to Oakmont.
The former home of 11th Street Council Speaker Lindsay Osterhout was used for scenes in Fox’s 2013 “The Fault in Our Stars.”
“How often does a film crew knock on your door?” Osterhout said. “I love Pittsburgh shooting stuff here, and I think the film office here in Pittsburgh is wonderful. I always get excited when I hear filming happening, especially in Oakmont because we’re such a great community.