Despite the endless string of films and television series shot in Pennsylvania that have either graced the silver screen already or are set to be released soon, new productions are being turned away from filming in the state.
Executive Director of Greater Philadelphia Film Office Sharon Pinkenson said she has had to turn away both a feature film and a major television production because of financial constraints just last week.
Films that have been shot in Pennsylvania include Paranoia, Dead Man Down, Jack Reacher, Law Abiding Citizen and Silver Linings Playbook, Pinkenson said.
Specifically, concerns have risen among state film officials who feel hindered by the current film tax credit for Pennsylvania, as they continue to press for an expanded break, she said.
“We could be one of the top states in the nation for attracting film production business and gaining a tremendous number of jobs and economic impact to Pennsylvania,” Pinkenson said. “But we are handicapped because we have the $60 million a year program which isn’t nearly enough to cover the needs of southeastern Pennsylvania, let alone the entire state.”
Limited to a production of $60 million, the tax credit is awarded if one movie production spends 60 percent of the total budget on goods and services purchased from Pennsylvania. The tax credit amounts to 25 percent of that qualified expenditure, Pinkenson said.
Pinkenson said if there were a bigger tax credit, the state could see film as a leading industry in the state.
She is thereby calling for a $150 million program, which she said has the potential to stimulate close to a $1 billion a year in production for the state.
Having served on a 2009 Pennsylvania motion picture and television industry work force analysis task force to examine the effects of the tax credit in the state, Penn State Senior Lecturer in the College of Communications Rod Bingaman echoed similar sentiments.
There are additional levels of profits for generating business through tax credit by having to provide amenities, such as housing and food, for stationed film production crew members, Bingaman said.
He said the task force’s study that came out in 2010 showed that the film industry has generated $613 million from job creation –– almost 10,000 jobs.
Additionally, the current estimate holds that from $300 million of tax credits over roughly seven to eight years, the film industry has generated $1.4 billion in economic growth, he said.
“The typical argument against it is that, in tight times, we have to look at what funds we are appropriating,” he said. “Film tax credit doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything.”
Patrick Miller (senior-film and video), treasurer of the Penn State Student Film organization, said the tax incentives in places like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh provide increased job availability.
“It creates more jobs on the East Coast, especially for students who graduate,” he said.
In light of the looming state budget, Press Secretary at Department of Community and Economic Development Steve Kratz said it is essential that a fiscal assessment of the commonwealth take precedence over determining which programs will see increases. Gov. Tom Corbett’s office nonetheless recognizes the importance of job creation, he added.