By: Maria Shamkalian
Please, meet Jennifer Yee McDevitt who is a local Pennsylvania screenwriter with films in development at 20th Century Fox. She worked at Warner Bros Studios, spent two seasons with NFL Films and directed 10 MOUNTAINS 10 YEARS narrated by Anne Hathaway with music by Bruce Springsteen. She is represented by CAA and Rise Management.
1) Please describe your most recent success and how you have grown in the industry.
For the past couple years I've been grateful to write for Amazon and Netflix. Currently, I'm writing the next movie for Universal Pictures. It's an adaptation of the popular novel Goodbye Vitamin. Dylan Clark (The Batman, Bird Box) is producing the film for Universal.
2) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
I recently wrote a television pilot set in Pennsylvania. Hopefully one day we'll get to shoot it here.
3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
Earlier in my career, I lived in Los Angeles for 5 years. I decided to move back to my hometown of Philadelphia because I wanted to be closer to my family for the long-term. It has definitely been challenging to work long-distance, when all of my colleagues are in LA and New York, but it is completely worth it to me. Pennsylvania is where I grew up. It's where I met my husband. We got married here, bought a house here, and started a family together here. I love putting my family first, and the joy it has given me has made me a better writer.
4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
One of my pipe dreams is to someday shoot a West Wing style walk-and-talk scene through Reading Terminal Market!
5) What is your advice for aspiring filmmakers?
Follow your heart, be patient, and don't give up. It's a very long marathon, not a sprint. I wanted to write movies when I was 21 years old, but it took me 11 years to actually become a working screenwriter.
6) What would be the best way for our local cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
If one of my scripts shoots in the region, there will be local casting and crew calls.
7) PaFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of the PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
The PA film industry brings massive economic growth and employment to our state. Every time a movie shoots here, our neighborhoods benefit, restaurants benefit, hotels benefit, retailers benefit - and the positive domino effect is endless. On the writing end, my colleagues and I have written many scripts set in Pennsylvania - but because of the tax credit - most of those projects moved to Georgia, Canada, and Europe. It's discouraging because we're specifically working very hard to bring more economic growth to our home state - and uncapping the tax credit is critical to making that happen. The PaFIA team has been amazing in their advocacy work in Harrisburg and additionally in building a sense of community for all of us. PaFIA Board Member Dave Raynor has been a wonderful mentor to me for many years. His genuine friendship and guidance to so many of us embodies the kindness amongst artists here and why I love working here.
8) What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
In the beginning, several people told me, "It'll get easier." The truth is - it doesn't get easier, but you get much more experienced and you get better!
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org