Zack and Miri couldn't make a porno movie just anywhere.
For writer and director Kevin Smith, choosing Pittsburgh to shoot his latest comedy was "a no-brainer."
Smith, who filmed the controversial religious comedy "Dogma" here in 1998, began shooting "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" in January.
On Tuesday, with one night of shooting left before flying home to "sleep in my own bed," Smith talked about his latest visit to Pittsburgh.
"We had such a good time with 'Dogma' in 1998," said Smith, a bearish man with a neatly trimmed beard and horn-rimmed glasses. "It seemed like a no-brainer to shoot here. It had to be shot in a place that you'd think was the last place someone would shoot porn. And that's Monroeville."
OK, the $75 million tax incentive passed by the state Legislature last year helped, too. The grant provides a 25 percent tax credit to film companies that spend 60 percent of their production budgets in the state.
"We could have gone to Massachusetts," Smith said. "They were pushing Connecticut pretty hard."
Strippers from the local labor force benefited from the movie.
"It would seem inauthentic to bring in strippers from Los Angeles," Smith said.
Budgeted at $25 million, "Zack and Miri" stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as two cash-strapped friends who make an X-rated film to get out of debt. During the making of this movie within a movie, the pair discover that they have feelings for one another.
Rogen -- playing Bud Abbott to Smith's Lou Costello -- talked about how real-life porn star Katie Morgan was invaluable in helping to make a fake sex scene.
The two had not previously worked together. Smith said he was worried he wouldn't be able to afford Rogen after he became famous as the star of Judd Apatow's smash comedy "Knocked Up."
"I saw 'The 40 Year Old Virgin.' I said, that dude is hysterical.' " Smith said. "Then he got famous."
Smith said he knows he's taking a risk with the word 'Porno' in the film's title.
But love trumps sex, he said. Like his other films -- "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" -- there's an old-fashioned romantic sensibility beneath the raunch.
"It's a dirty, dirty movie," said Smith with perfect deadpan. But then, he added, "I hope the balance is there. It's a really touching love story, no pun intended. In terms of the stuff I've done in the past, it's probably closest to 'Chasing Amy.' "
His family -- wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, and daughter, Harley Quinn, 8 -- moved to Pittsburgh during the shooting.
"We put Harley in Winchester Thurston for about three months," he said. "She had a great time. ... I think she found the idea of wearing a uniform every day incredibly novel. She felt like she worked for the government."
He caught a couple of Penguins games at Mellon Arena, including one where the Pens lost to the New Jersey Devils.
"It was odd being one of the only three Devils jerseys in the building," Smith said.
"Zack and Miri," which is set for a November release, features Traci Lords, Jason Mewes and Craig Robinson, who plays glowering warehouse manager Darryl Philbin in the NBC comedy "The Office." Betty Aberlin, who most people remember as Lady Aberlin from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," makes her third appearance in a Smith film.
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