An interview with IATSE Local 489 President Mike “Bubba” Matestic

By: Dana Michael

IATSE Local 489 are the Mechanics representing the people behind the camera in the Motion Picture Industry in in Southwestern Pennsylvania including Craft Service, First Aid, Grip, Lighting, Marine, Props, Scenic Paint, Set Construction, Sound, Special Effects, Video and Wardrobe. In 1997, IATSE Local 489 was stagnant around 100 members. This was also the first year the Pennsylvania film tax incentive was instated giving PA an equal chance for work. In 1997 IATSE 489 membership grew from 100 to nearly 400 strong.

With a commitment to the promoting region’s growth as well as an active training program from entry level, through intermediate and advanced levels, the Local 489 has had a 400% increase since 2007. This week alone they will be swearing in 40 new members.

Steering the ship of this Union since 2012 is President of I.A.T.S.E. Local 489, Mike “Bubba” Matestic. Bubba graduated from Point Park University in 1989 and worked on his first movie that year. “After graduating, I worked construction on small movies. In 1991 working on Lorenzo’s Oil, IATSE 489 was charted. I became 1 of the first 13 members.”

He joined PaFIA shortly after that. “I figured the film industry would benefit with an association dedicated to the film business. Not only the film workers, but also the vendors and the businesses surrounding the work itself. “

Bubba and the rest of the Local 489 consistently promote the positive effect of the film tax credit.  Included on their website are talking points for the tax credit as well as a guide to understanding them.

Currently Local 489 is taking the take to give thanks to Governor Tom Wolf for signing applications this year. An act which was needed to continue the gainful employment of every PA resident who makes a good living in the Film Industry.

“We have a top notch crew in PA due to the tax credit. We’ve also been able to train many new crew members. If the tax credit were to be raised even a little more then there would be more work for even more members. I had to travel during the late 90s to find work in the film industry. With the tax credit in place, I haven’t had to leave my hometown. It’s always better to go to your own home after work.

There are not just union jobs to be had in the film industry there are many non-union jobs. As a matter of fact we get a lot of our members who started as a pa or office help. The more films that come to town, the more opportunities for all of us to work. So write those letters and let your legislators know we would like the tax credit raised to 100 million.“

Want to join IATSE Local 489? You can start by filling out a permit on the website created to give Department Heads/Keys/Firsts and Assistants/Seconds a pool of qualified Pittsburgh applicants to call when they exhaust the union referral list and/or union roster and have positions to fill.

Read more about the Local at

PaFIA thanks Bubba and all of IATSE 489 for all that they do! We also extend our gratitude to and Governor Tom Wolf, Deputy Secretary Lepore and Janice Collier for signing and sending the Film Tax Credit approvals needed for 2016. This year looks to be a great year for film in PA and we could not have done it without their support.