Recap of an Evening with Jim Davis and Diane Heery

By: Randall Gort

Not even the cold, rainy February weather dampened the spirits of the over one hundred people who attended the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PaFIA) event with Lobbyist Jim Davis and Casting Director Diane Heery.

Those that ventured out, including 10 new members and 5 renewals, were rewarded not only with the tasty hors d’oeuvres provided by the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, but also with the informative presentations of PaFIA Chair David Haddad, Lobbyist Jim Davis and Diane Heery of Heery Loftus Casting, as well as the good news provided by special guest, Sharon Pinkenson of the Philadelphia Film Office.

PaFIA is a state-wide trade association that was organized to promote the film, television, and commercial industry in Pennsylvania, and in particular to provide a strong and collective voice for the industry within relevant business circles and government offices.

During his remarks, Davis indicated that the Film Tax Credit program continued to enjoy broad-based support within the Pennsylvania Legislature and Governor’s office, surviving Governor Wolfe’s line item veto of the Republican crafted budget. The inclusion of the Film Tax Credit program within the interim budget affords currently approved projects to continue their participation in the program during the impasse.

Davis commented that it is because of the efforts of PaFIA and the film offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that the Film Tax Credit program enjoys the support that it has. Being able to cite the significant and growing membership of PaFIA substantiates the interest of Pennsylvania residents in the film, television, and commercial industry, and therefore the Film Tax Credit program.

Growing PAFIA membership and participation should be a prime objective and activity for anyone (READ THIS AS MEANING ALL OF US) hoping to enjoy the benefit of a strong film, television and commercial industry within Pennsylvania.

Since the current impasse has remained longer than anyone expected, Davis indicated that his “crystal ball was broken for the foreseeable future”, suggesting that each political party remains committed to their budget priorities and concerns, and that the gap between them appears to be widening instead of diminishing.

While budget discussions are ongoing Davis and the PaFIA board are actively visiting our representatives in Harrisburg to further buttress support for the tax credit as well as to discuss removing the cap and restructure mechanics of the program to try and encompass multiple years thereby attempting to remove it from the annual budget fray.

Diane Heery then provided comments about additional opportunities for work within the industry. Heery indicated that the strong presence of the pharmaceutical and medical technology industry within the Delaware Valley provided numerous opportunities for work with commercials and industrials. In addition, she discussed the significant number of production companies and advertising agencies that were originated commercials locally.

Heery said that while there are opportunities, it is up to us as individuals to be pro-active in ferreting out the work and making our interests known. Another possible avenue for work with the Standardized Patient programs of the local medical schools was raised during the Q&A following Heery’s comments.

Sharon Pinkenson of the Philadelphia Film office addressed the gathering with some very good news. While Pinkenson indicated that film production is not a done deal even when the cameras start rolling, she suggested that there is a strong possibility of multiple new projects commencing in the Philadelphia area. These include two or three independent films and well as a couple of higher budget films with “name” actors. Given the confidential nature of such projects Pinkenson was not able to provide additional details. Given the slow start of the new year, her comments were very well received.

In addition to the speakers, additional guests were present at the event including sponsors such as Hertz, DT Services, Enterprise and 829 as well as attendees such as Producers Nick Stagliano and Scott Currie, Adam and Gretchen Clark of Trick Digital, Keystone’s Darryl Rode, Tom Ashley of Invincible Pictures and Casting Director Kimberly Skyrme from the D.C./Virginia area, among others. Thanks go out to the sponsors and the PaFIA supporters in attendance.

If you are not a member – join. If you are a member – find additional people to join. PaFIA is a grass roots organization. It is only strong if its members make it strong.

Special thanks to Bryant Sanders Photography for the wonderful photos. To see these photos, click here!