Netflix scored big with Joe Penhall’s Mindhunter series season 1, which was filmed in the Pittsburgh region in summer 2016. The period crime drama, set in 1977, chronicles two FBI special agents, Bill Tench, played by Holt McCallary, and Holden Ford, played by Jonathan Groff, in the early days of criminal science. As they delve into the psychology of murder, they get frighteningly close to the real-life monsters.
Filming for season 2, start date still to be announced at press time, is getting under way, once again in and around Pittsburgh—and in Mt. Lebanon.
The first season included scenes filmed at recognizable places such as W&J, Carnegie Mellon, the Butler County Courthouse, the West Virginia Penitentiary and the former Greensburg Correctional Institute—all subbing for other cities and institutions. But the show also included scenes in front of a stone ranch house with a perfectly manicured yard on Mt. Lebanon’s Lakemont Drive. Location scouts scoured the area for a quintessential 1970s ranch and found it here in Cedarhurst.
The show will set up base camp at Bower Hill Church, as they did for the last season, said Marc Meeks, one of several locations scouts working on the series. They’ll also return to “Agent Trench’s house” —the homeowners don’t even need to move out, because the producers have built a replica of the interior and the back yard of the Lakemont property at a warehouse north of Pittsburgh. Mt. Lebanon Christian Church at Hollycrest Drive and Cedar Boulevard, would be perfect for one of the scenes, Meeks said, because from certain angles it looks exactly like a church in Virginia that is part of the script. That location might not work because it could involve closing several busy roads, including a portion of Cedar, said Mt. Lebanon Police Lt. Duane Fisher. The police department works closely with the film crews to ensure safety and minimal disruption for residents.
For season 1, a number of locals including Mt. Lebanon Magazine’s Katie Wagner, worked as extras. Wagner, who wasn’t even born in the 1970s, recalls that she had to go to a huge warehouse in the Strip District filled with vintage clothes. There, costumers outfitted her in a retro purple knit sweater tucked into a high-rise bell-bottom jeans, along with a ’70s purse and thick clogs. Then they teased her hair into a high pony tail.
Her role, turns out, was to sit in a sweltering 1970s bus and ride back and forth along a McKeesport street among classic cars driven by their volunteer owners while the special agent and his girlfriend crossed the street and entered a shoe store—over and over. Then the extras had to walk back and forth repeatedly in front of the shop window.
“You can see me for a second,” Wagner says of the gig, which paid about $70. “We spent a whole day filming on maybe a total of three minutes footage. And we were so far from everything that I didn’t get to see the stars or the action.”
Still, she says, “It was fun and bizarre.”
We’ll keep you posted on Facebook, as production draws near and perhaps even have an online story account of the filming later in the summer.