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Dating show segment filmed at Zelie art shop

Shayla ties Carlyle's apron during filming last summer of the dating show “Local Love” at Spring Street Studios in Zelienople. The show appeared on the Very Local app on Jan. 24. Submitted photo

ZELIENOPLE — Broken shards of love were fused into art last summer, as a dating show segment was filmed at Spring Street Studios.

Elizabeth Fortunato, who co-owns the studio with Renee Ayers, said she had never heard of the Very Local app before she received an email from them in early 2023.

Very Local is a free app with shows and news specific to various cities in the U.S., including Pittsburgh.

The email from Very Local asked Fortunato and Ayers if the producers of “Local Love,” a dating show on the app, could film a segment in their studios.

Fortunato was skeptical at first.

“With emails these days, you never know,” she said.

Elizabeth Fortunato, co-owner of Spring Street Studios in Zelienople, appears on camera on the “Local Love” dating show on the Very Local app. A segment of the dating show was filmed at the studio last summer. Submitted photo

When Fortunato’s husband said he was familiar with “Local Love,” skepticism turned to excitement for the business partners.

“They were looking for fun, experience-based places to film the show,” Fortunato said.

“Local Love” sees a single man or woman go on dates with three people, then pick one of the three — or none — for a second date.

The episode filmed at Spring Street Studios — where anyone can book a session to create art using fused and stained glass — was filmed on a Monday because the studio and retail shop are closed on that day.

Fortunato said she and Ayers had to sign nondisclosure forms that prohibited them from revealing even the slightest detail about the filming.

The segment featured a woman named Shayla creating artwork in the studio with Carlyle, one of the three men she was filmed with on a date.

“They created ice bowls, which is one of our most popular projects,” Fortunato said.

Shayla filmed the other segments at Shorty’s on Pittsburgh’s North Shore and Gaby et Jules Macaron Boutique in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood.

“I didn’t know how it ended up until it came out,” Fortunato said.

Shayla laughs with her date, Carlyle, as the show “Local Love” is filmed last summer at Spring Street Studios in Zelienople. Submitted photo
The filming process

Fortunato said the crew and couple spent about a half-day in the shop, where about a dozen crew members were crammed into the small studio’s back room as at least two cameramen filmed the couple making the bowls.

“As you can see, this is not a very large space … and it’s full of glass,” she said with a sweeping gesture that highlighted the hundreds of beautiful and delicate pieces for sale in the shop.

The director did stop the action on just a few occasions to coach the couple to mention Spring Street Studios in nonchalant comments while being filmed, or for Fortunato to make comments on things to do around Zelienople.

The producers were cagey when confronted with questions about the couple or the episode.

“They were very mysterious with us,” Fortunato said. “They wouldn’t say if they were on date one, two or three, and they wouldn’t divulge the other locations.”

The show made it seem like Carlyle picked the studio, she said.

“It’s cuter to think he discovered it,” Fortunato said.

She said the couple were definitely strangers, and camera operators also got some B-roll of Carlyle checking out Main Street.

“There was cute footage of him walking around,” Fortunato said.

She said the couple seemed to have a great chemistry as they created their ice bowls under Fortunato’s tutelage.

“It was funny,” Fortunato said. “I was on somebody’s first date with them, and 12 strangers.”

She said it takes about 90 minutes to make the ice bowls, and she enjoyed watching the couple’s interaction with one another.

“They had really good chemistry,” Fortunato said. “They were both very sociable and friendly.”

She said there was a bit of a difference in each party’s end result when it came to the bowls.

“She was a little more focused,” Fortunato said.

The couple found out while creating their ice bowls that they went to the same high school in the Pittsburgh area, and at one of the other two venues discovered they actually know many of the same people, she said.

“It was a really great little first date experience for them,” Fortunato said of

Ayers was in Florida when the segment was shot, but attended the watch party on Zoom during the week the episode aired, which was Jan. 24.

The episode served as the premier of the sixth season of “Local Love.”

Fortunato and Ayers opened up 32 spots for the watch party, where those in attendance also made cast glass hearts, enjoyed activities, and partook of snacks and drinks while watching the episode on a big-screen TV in the studio.

“It was mildly embarrassing because it would be my face, real big,” Fortunato said.

Ayers disagreed.

“Liz is great in front of the camera,” she said of her business partner. “She’s a natural.”

Ayers said having the “Local Love” crew and couple in the studio was exciting, even if she attended the shooting remotely.

“I'm a big reality TV fan, so to be able to watch the behind-the-scenes filming was a lot of fun,” she said.

Ayers said she thinks the episode helped get the 2-year-old studio’s name out to the Pittsburgh community.

“It also highlighted the town of Zelienople, which is becoming a destination town for people to come up from the city and spend the day,” she said.

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