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  • Monday, October 03, 2022 10:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    All eyes in Harrisburg are focused on the November 8th General Election. With such a limited fall session schedule, legislative action in September was restricted to those items that had bi-partisan support. And given how close we are to election day, there are not too many issues that Democrats and Republicans are agreeing to right now. This trend will continue into October as the Senate has only 5 session days scheduled and the House has just 3 days on the calendar.

    Pennsylvanians are not the only ones interested in November’s gubernatorial race given the state’s reputation as a presidential battleground and the impact that the governor of the state could have on a range of issues, including future election administration and access to abortion. Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) is looking to make some history in his race for Governor - the last time Democrats strung together 3 consecutive gubernatorial wins in Pennsylvania was in the 1840s. Pennsylvania is also home to one of the most high-profile Senate contests of the cycle between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz.

    This week, candidates filed their latest campaign finance reports and Shapiro reported that his campaign raised $25.4 million from June 7 to September 19, ending the three-month period with over $10.9 million in the bank. Shapiro’s haul is significant for gubernatorial campaigns in Pennsylvania, overshadowing the $7.2 million that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf raised for his reelection bid from June to September in 2018 and the $9.6 million Wolf raised over the same time in 2014. Shapiro’s fundraising far outpaces Republican candidate Doug Mastriano as he reported raising just $3.16 million during the same three-month period and enters the final months of the campaign with $2.56 million in the bank. The three-month haul brings his total raised for the cycle to just under $5 million, significantly less than the more than $50 million Shapiro has raised in the cycle.

    The latest Marist poll released on September 27 shows both Democratic statewide candidates (Shapiro and Fetterman) with double-digit leads over their Republican opponents. This survey showed Shapiro with a 13-point advantage over Mastriano in the governor’s race, 53-40. It also showed Fetterman with a 10-point leader over Oz in the US Senate race, 51-41.

    Two days later, Franklin & Marshall College released a poll showing the Republican nominee Oz narrowing the gap against Democrat opponent Fetterman. The F&M poll had the race at 45 to 42 with Fetterman holding a narrow lead. The poll shows that Shapiro maintained a 10-point lead and higher favorable ratings over Mastriano. 

    Earlier this month, Sheryl Lee Ralph, the wife of Senator Vincent Hughes (Democratic Appropriations Committee Chair), won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Senator Hughes is  along-time supporter of the Film Tax Credit and our efforts.

    We are anxious to put the November election behind so we can begin to build relationships with new legislators and strengthen our relationships with our long-time allies. It is challenging to handicap every election that will take place on November 8th so please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have a questions about a specific race.

  • Wednesday, August 31, 2022 11:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The makeup of the PA Legislative and Executive Branches will look very different in 2023. Not only will PA have a new Governor (current Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running against current Republican State Senator Doug Mastriano) but, on November 8, 2022, all 203 House seats are up for re-election and 25 of the 50 Senate seats are up for re-election. After retirements and primary election results, we already know at least 51 members of the Legislature will not be returning to Harrisburg in 2023. These members include legislators from all four caucuses including those in caucus leadership, committee chairs and rank and file members. When also taking into account the results of November General Election, it is difficult to fully predict the political landscape for 2023. As a result, we will need to be nimble when setting legislative strategy for next year.

    While the 2021-2022 legislative session runs until November 30th, there are very few session days scheduled between now and the end of the term. The House will be in session for 12 days, with 9 of them taking place before the November election. The Senate will be in session for 10 days, also with 9 of them taking place before the November election. See below for a listing of each chamber’s remaining session schedule.

    When the House and Senate briefly return to session the week of November 14th, we expect that leadership elections for 2023-24 will take place in all four caucuses. So while we will know the new leadership teams in both chambers shortly after the General Election, we likely will not know committee chairs and committee assignments until December, and possibly not until January.  

    FALL 2022 HOUSE SESSION SCHEDULE

    September    12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21

    October        24, 25, 26

    November    14, 15, 16

     

    FALL 2022 SENATE SESSION SCHEDULE 

    September    19, 20, 21

    October         17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

    November     15


  • Friday, August 12, 2022 4:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A warm hello to our friends in film.

    July 2022 was a huge month for the film industry in Pennsylvania!!!! Given the craziness of everyday life, it is important to take a moment and celebrate our recent success of increasing the film tax credit by $30 million, from $70 million per fiscal year to $100 million per fiscal year. This increase would not have happened without all of your support over the last few years. Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies would like to thank David Haddad, members of the PAFIA board, and PAFIA’s general membership for everyone’s willingness to take time out of your busy schedules to advocate for the film industry. We also want to thank Senators Camera Bartolotta and Jay Costa and Representatives K.C. Tomlinson and Joe Ciresi for their leadership on this issue. Their email addresses are listed below. Please consider sending them a brief thank you email recognizing their effort and hard work.

    A warm hello to our friends in film.

    July 2022 was a huge month for the film industry in Pennsylvania!!!! Given the craziness of everyday life, it is important to take a moment and celebrate our recent success of increasing the film tax credit by $30 million, from $70 million per fiscal year to $100 million per fiscal year. This increase would not have happened without all of your support over the last few years. Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies would like to thank David Haddad, members of the PAFIA board, and PAFIA’s general membership for everyone’s willingness to take time out of your busy schedules to advocate for the film industry. We also want to thank Senators Camera Bartolotta and Jay Costa and Representatives K.C. Tomlinson and Joe Ciresi for their leadership on this issue. Their email addresses are listed below. Please consider sending them a brief thank you email recognizing their effort and hard work.

    Senator Camera Bartolottacbartolotta@pasen.gov

    Senator Jay Costacosta@pasenate.com

    Representative K.C. Tomlinsonktomlinson@pahousegop.com

    Representative Joe Ciresijciresi@pahouse.net

    Harrisburg is relatively quiet right now as the Legislature is currently in summer recess. The PA House and PA Senate do not return to voting session until mid-September. Legislators will be spending a lot of time in their districts campaigning as the November 8th General Election draws closer.

    We hope all of you are having a wonderful summer and don’t forget to take the time to celebrate the enormous victory we achieved together earlier this month!!!!

    Jim & Beth


  • Thursday, August 04, 2022 2:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This time last year, the film community in Pennsylvania took a major loss when the Film Industry Incentive was denied an increase, remaining at $75 million, leaving millions, if not billions, of dollars’ worth of film and TV projects on the table. This loss did not discourage our efforts, but only sharpened our focus on our goal to raise the Film Industry Incentive to $125 million, which would be 12 months of work during the year. I am thrilled to announce that our efforts have been successful, and the film industry has been recognized by our legislators and all branches of government, with the Film Industry Incentive being increased to $100 million.

    Thank YOU

    I would first like to offer my deepest gratitude to our PAFIA supporters, individual members, and our corporate sponsors. Without your support, the Film Industry Incentive would not have had the visibility necessary to make it into the budget this year.

    Second, a huge thank you to the bi-partisan Film Caucus, led by Senators Camera Bartolotta (R) and Jay Costa (D) and House Members Joe Ciresi (D) and Kathleen "KC" Tomlinson (R) that worked tirelessly to ensure this increase was included in this year’s budget cycle.

    Next, a sincere thank you to our lobbyists, Jim Davis and Beth Brennan, with Cozen O’Connor and our management company, Kassalen Meetings and Events. Your work to move our agenda forward has never been more valuable.

    Finally, thank you to the 20 volunteers on the PAFIA Board from all around the state who give their time and money to this organization. We are always looking to expand our Board with people who can give the organization time, prestige, and money to keep us strong and active in Harrisburg. 

    Looking Ahead

    Let me be clear: our work is not done. The $100 million incentive certainly brings more work to the state of Pennsylvania, but we will still be turning down projects and work for our local crew. Not to mention, billions of dollars of economic activity to our local businesses. Our sights are set on $125 million, and our work begins now.

    Our ask to our PAFIA network remains the same. Now, more than ever, we ask that you please DONATE to PAFIA, JOIN the organization, and SHARE your story on social media.

    • DONATE & JOIN: Without PAFIA, there is NO voice in Harrisburg advocating for the Film Industry Incentive. Whether it is $50 or $500, we are asking that you consider donating to PAFIA by joining as a member, or simply donating on the website. Any donation, no matter how small, will help sustain us for the future.

    Anyone can be a member of PAFIA, and the stronger our membership numbers are, the more visibility the film industry has with our legislators. Now is the time to invite your friends, family, and colleagues to join with you! More information regarding PAFIA membership opportunities can be found on our website at www.pafia.org/joinus.

    SHARE YOUR STORY

    : Share positive stories of working in Film in Pennsylvania. PAFIA makes an effort to share photos from sets all over the state and tag the local legislators to show that the film community is WORKING. Please like, share, and comment on these posts to get the attention of the legislators.

    Become a PAFIA Member

    Make a Donation to PAFIA

    Meet Our Sponsors

    Meet Our Corporate Members

    Our time is now. Let's get to work!

    Sincerely,
    David Haddad
    Chairman, The Pennsylvania Film Industry Association 

  • Monday, July 11, 2022 8:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Friends in Film,

    We have wonderful news to share from Harrisburg – the film production tax credit is being increased by $30 million and will now have a cap of $100 million!

    After months of negotiations, the PA Legislature is currently in the process of voting the general fund budget bill and accompanying code bills. Yesterday, both the House (184-16) and Senate (38-12) passed the omnibus tax code bill. This is the piece of legislation that outlines the changes to the film production tax credit program.

    In addition to the 43% increase to the program, there was language added to the program that now reserves $5 million (of the $100 million total) for PA Film Producers. If the entire $5 million is not awarded in a fiscal year, the amount not awarded shall be made available for use by taxpayers that are no PA film producers.

    The bill also made technical cleanup changes to multi-film provisions added as part of Act 25 of 2021 last year.

    These changes to the film production tax credit can be found in HB 1342, starting on page 20, line 24.

    Your passionate support of the film industry is what helped get the film tax credit increased. We cannot thank you enough for your time and effort and for talking with legislators over and over and over again about why this program is so important. We are thrilled to share this exciting news with all of you but realize we could not have achieved this success without your help, so please give yourselves a round of applause.

    Please let us know if you have any questions.

    Beth & Jim
  • Thursday, June 30, 2022 10:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Written by PAFIA Vice-Chair, Maria Shamkalian

    Magnificent city views, introductions to the top industry professionals, celebrity appearances, and many other fantastic surprises were waiting for the attendees of the latest Pennsylvania Film Industry Association event, hosted at the beautiful Bridge on Race open air terrace. Organized by the two PAFIA Board Members: Ken Myers - the founder of Coral, the leading star concierge service - and Maria Shamkalian - celebrity masterclasses host and SAG-AFTRA actress, the event featured Marc Bienstock and offered a unique opportunity for an in-person Q&A with the producer of Split, Glass, and many other award-winning films. Also in attendance were PAFIA Chair David Haddad, Board Members Anie Smith and Lawrence Greenberg, SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia President Nicole Izanec, Local Board Member Meagan Hill and National Board Member Mike Kraycik, as well as several celebrities including actor Brett Gray. Actors, directors, producers and other industry professionals enjoyed a fun networking night accompanied by the delicious hors d'oeuvres and a versatile open bar donated by the Happy Rooster Bar and Restaurant which hosted many previous PAFIA events. She’s Crafty donated the bartending services for the evening and impressed everyone with her charming presentation. New Liberty Distillery provided their insanely popular signature bourbon and rye whiskies, and Stateside vodka added their world-renowned vodka and delicious hard seltzer products.

    In addition to the food, drink, and Q&A, the event had giveaways by the Orange Theory fitness, discounted professional headshots by Maagnifique Photography, thematic film industry caricatures by the story board artist Steve Lefkowitz, music and dancing entertainment by DJ Chris Maag, a raffle and a silent auction. Raffle prizes and auction items included: coaching session with the Director of the WGA Showrunner Training Program and Paramount/CBS Writers Mentoring Program Carole Kirschner, voiceover services from the uber-talented Lisa Leonard, gift certificates to two of Philly’s hottest restaurants - Tuna Bar and Suraya, headshot services and a beautifully framed portrait of Philly’s Center City district from the owner of Maagnifique Photography Kristin Maag, a sampler of luxury spa services from one of the Philadelphia area’s leading salons, David Witchell Salon, and two executive producer packages valued at $1950 from the award-winning production company Buffalo 8 that together with its sister company BondIt Media Capital has produced over 300 feature film and TV projects, invested over $300M+, and garnered over $1B+ in worldwide revenues!

    The event was immensely successful and more celebrity Q&As are now in planning for our local film community to benefit from.

    Check out our Facebook Page to see photos from the event!


  • Friday, April 22, 2022 10:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    On Wednesday, April 20th, the Senate Finance Committee held a public hearing on Pennsylvania’s film tax credit program at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. Thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to either attend the hearing in-person or watch online. If you missed the hearing, please check out the Senate Finance Committee’s website here. It will give you access to all the written testimony that was submitted and a link to a recording of the one hour and 20 minute hearing.

    We were thrilled with the number of legislators in attendance at the hearing – Senate Finance Committee Republican Chairman Scott Hutchinson and Senate Finance Committee Democratic Chairman Wayne Fontana, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R), Senator Judy Ward (R), Senator Devlin Robinson (R), and Senator Jay Costa (D). As you may recall, Senators Bartolotta and Costa are the Senate co-chairs of the bi-partisan Legislative Film Caucus.

    Presenting testimony to the Senate Finance Committee was a group of film and hospitality panelists. All of them shared personal stories about why they love their jobs, why they want to live and work in PA, and why it is important for the Commonwealth of PA to support, and grow,  the film tax credit program. The legislators greatly appreciated the panelists’ real life stories about how each of them found their place in the film industry, how they want to grow their businesses and support others entering the film and TV workforce, and the immense proud they all share in having one of the over 30,000 full time jobs generated or impacted by the film industry.

    While the film industry has generated over $5.2 billion in total economic activity since 2007, the impact of the industry is so much greater than what can be captured in an economic impact study. Our sincere thanks go out to those that participated in the hearing – Gregory Edwards (Executive Committee Member, IASTE Local 489 and Dolly Grip), Lela Checco (Crafty Craft Services, LLC), Keith Frank (Vice President, Teamsters Local 249), Brick Brickman (Set Painter), Trey Matheu (Managing Director, Nemocolin Woodlands Resort), and Dawn Keezer (Director, Pittsburgh Film Office). The wonderful testimony presented yesterday ensured that the legislators recognized and truly saw the faces of all the men and women working in the film industry (and dare I say they saw the hearts of each of the workers as well).

    After such a successful hearing, we must ride the wave of enthusiasm and support for the film tax credit program. We are encouraging all of you to reach out to your state House and state Senate member and ask them to increase the film tax credit from $70 million to $125 million when they pass a budget in Harrisburg this June. You can find the name and contact information for your local legislators using the website found here.

    We are also in the process of finalizing a date (tentatively Monday, May 23) and time for a reception in Harrisburg where film and TV industry stakeholders, like yourself, can mingle in-person with legislators and share your personal stories as to why increasing the funding for the film tax credit program is so important. We will share details about this receptions as they become available.

    Lastly, we wanted to share the Post Gazette’s coverage of the hearing. We thought the article captured the essence of the hearing nicely. The text of the article can be found below or via the link here.

    Pittsburgh-area film workers praise Pa.’s film tax credit, ask for increase before state Senate panel

      

    APR 20, 2022

     

    Pittsburgh Post Gazette

    After ABC’s “The Bachelor” filmed at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, the hotel saw an 18% increase in net revenue over its highest-ever earnings.

    While Tom Hanks filmed on a street in Bellevue for his upcoming movie “A Man Called Otto,” 20 nearby homes got repainted free of charge.

    As crews worked 12-hour days on movies like “The Pale Blue Eye” set to come out this year, staff spent $1.7 million on snacks and drinks locally to keep them going.

    These are all recent examples of the outward impact Pennsylvania’s film industry has on its broader economy, large and small, according to local film industry leaders who spoke before a panel of state senators on Wednesday.

    Several southwestern Pennsylvania lawmakers gathered in Pittsburgh with the film industry professionals to discuss the success of the state’s Film Tax Credit Program — and its unpredictability.

    Since its inception, the tax credit has brought more than $2 billion into the state, with 195 TV shows and movies filmed locally, according to the Pittsburgh Film Office.

    Pennsylvania is one of 42 states that offers some form of a film tax incentive to draw filmmakers to their regions. State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Monongahela, introduced legislation to increase the tax credit from $70 million to $125 million, but it was cut out of budget negotiations last year. The bipartisan lawmakers from the Pittsburgh region said they hope they can negotiate an increase as part of this year’s budget.

    There is no lack of interest in filming in Western Pennsylvania, said Dawn Keezer, the Pittsburgh Film Office director. Instead, the tax credit gets used up so quickly that local film companies need to turn big-time films or TV series away.

    “We have half a billion dollars worth of work that want to be here,” Ms. Keezer told the Senate panel.

    Plus, Pennsylvania has two movie-making hubs with Philadelphia across the state, making it stand out among others — though that means the two regions need to share the tax credits, Ms. Keezer added.

    “It’s Atlanta in Georgia, and Chicago in Illinois,” Ms. Keezer said about other popular places to shoot films in the U.S. “In Pennsylvania, it’s Pittsburgh and Philly, so the credit is underfunded and oversubscribed.”

    Pittsburgh-area film crews have gotten “really good” at painting the city to look like New York, offering a smaller environment where crews can actually close down the streets, Ms. Keezer said. Its proximity to mountains and rural communities also offers filmmakers a desired location to shoot — though it can be hard for them to shoot movies based in beaches or deserts.

    Last year, crime-thriller TV series “Mayor of Kingstown” wanted to film in southwestern Pennsylvania, Ms. Keezer said. But they didn’t have enough tax credits left to get them to film there, so they chose to film in Canada instead.

    This year, “Mayor of Kingstown” will film in Pittsburgh for its second season.

    “We’re thrilled about that, but we have to turn away more work than we ever see,” Ms. Keezer added.

    Ms. Bartolotta said she hopes to increase the tax credit this year, and add some insurance that the tax credit will stay steady for the next three-plus years.

    “You’re not going to build studios.. All of those people moving into Pennsylvania, that’s not going to happen if they think this is going to be a one-year experience,” Ms. Bartolotta added.

    Several panelists from local unions said the film jobs produce consistent, comfortable wages for their employees.

    Keith Frank, the vice president of Teamsters Local 249, tried to dispel the myth that these jobs are not sustainable. Most of his union members will work seven to nine months out of the year, but will work 3,000 hours during that time — much more than the 2,080 traditional 9-5 jobs offer, Mr. Frank said.

    It’s when this tax credit isn’t made available — like in 2017 — that its workers lose jobs, he added.

    Gillian McGoldrick; gmcgoldrick@post-gazette.com 

    First Published April 20, 2022, 4:04pm


  • Thursday, April 07, 2022 9:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    March 2022 recap

    The focus this month was on the upcoming 2022 elections as candidates for the PA House and PA Senate had just 10 days to circulate nominating petitions to get on the May 17th primary election ballot. Candidates typically have approximately 3 weeks to secure enough signatures to get on the ballot. In PA, state House candidates need to get at least 300 signatures and state Senate candidates need at least 500 signatures. The timeline was condensed this year due to the legal battle surrounding the implementation of new district boundaries.

    The makeup of the PA Legislature is going to be very different in 2023. We are now up to 37 legislators who have announced that they will not run for their current position. Also, with other candidates having filed their intentions to run for office, there will be at least 43 primary elections in which a sitting legislator is facing one or more contenders. Three of those primaries have an incumbent facing another incumbent – Rep John Hershey (R-Juniata) vs Rep Perry Stambaugh (R-Perry); Rep Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh) vs Rep Gary Day (R-Lehigh); and, Rep Pam Delissio (D-Philadelphia) vs Rep Chris Rabb (D-Philadelphia). Several members of House and Senate Republican leadership will have primary opponents, including House Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York).

    The Senate Finance Committee has announced a public hearing on Wednesday, April 20 at 10am to discuss the Commonwealth’s Film Tax Credit Program. The hearing will be live-streamed online, but Zoom participation will not be available. Please contact PAFIA if you are interested in attending the hearing in-person for additional details as there are room capacity limitations. The link to watch the hearing online will be shared with PAFIA members closer to the hearing date. 

  • Thursday, March 17, 2022 1:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    PAFIA February 2022 Recap

    On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf delivered his 8th and final budget proposal to a joint session of the Legislature. The Governor’s budget seeks the biggest-ever increase in funding for public schools and would push state spending past $43 billion for the first time. The Governor proposed a $43.7 billion General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23, a $4.5 billion increase from this fiscal year. The Governor also proposed a reduction in the state’s Corporate Net Income Tax (CNI). The CNI tax proposal involves reducing the rate from 9.99% to 7.99% on January 1 and scheduled cuts in years after that.

    As expected, the House and Senate Republican caucuses pushed back saying the Governor’s proposal spends too much money. Both caucuses believe the Commonwealth should be fiscally responsible in anticipation of the fiscal cliff that is approaching by spending less now and saving more for the future.

    Per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s February 23 order, the PA Department of State posted nomination petition forms online and announced that the last day for candidates to circulate and file petitions is Tuesday, March 15, 2022. These filing petitions are for congressional and statewide candidates only.

    By separate order, the PA Supreme Courts has temporarily suspended the Primary Election Calendar for seats in the PA House and Senate. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) approved a Final Reapportionment Plan for the state House and Senate on February 4, 2022. Under the state’s Constitution, the approved maps do not become law until the PA Supreme Court rules on all appeals filed to the plan. The appeal period for challenges to the final plan expires on March 7, 2022. We will share more information on this matter as it becomes available.

    In specific PAFIA news, as we have previously reported, the PA House and Senate Appropriations Committees are in the midst of weeks-long budget hearings to review the Governor’s budget proposal. During DCED Deputy Secretary Carrie Lepore’s presentation to the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, she acknowledged that the film production tax credit is oversubscribed and said she was open to conversations with legislators about ways to improve the program. Reps Mary Jo Daley and Joe Ciresi spoke in support of the film industry during the hearing.

    David Haddad and the Cozen team met with Film Caucus Chairs to discuss strategy ensuring our request to increase the film production tax credit would be part of the upcoming budget discussions. We talked about potential public hearings, either in Harrisburg or another location, and hosting another reception in Harrisburg so legislators can meet with various facets of the film industry. We also discussed possible set visits for legislators. Various participants of the meeting have follow up items to address in order to finalize our plans but we hope to share more details with all of you very soon. 

  • Friday, March 11, 2022 11:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    PA Film Industry Association Interview with Matthew Fridg

    Interview By: PAFIA Vice-Chair
    Maria Shamkalian

    Headspace Media (www.headspace.media) owner Matthew Fridg recently sat down with the PA Film Industry Association to talk about his short film, Saving Amelia (www.savingamelia.com), the process behind making the film, and plans for a future film.

    Saving Amelia is a short film in the spirit of family adventure films from the 80s and 90s, starring two sisters who must overcome their sibling rivalry after they discover a mysterious radio that can talk to the past. It was directed by Matthew Fridg, owner of Headspace media in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and features his two daughters as actors. They filmed it while locked down in April 2020, and it has gone on to screen all over the world in over 20 festivals, winning nearly 10 of them (including the Pittsburgh Shorts Fest in 2021), and has received an Emmy award.

    PA Film Industry Association: How did you come up with the idea and how did you get it going?

    Matthew Fridg: I came up with the idea when I was going down a bit of a bunny trail doing a Wikipedia search on Amelia Earhart. I came across one of the theories that she actually landed the plane on an island and was transmitting radio signals for a while until the battery in her airplane died, and there were several different speculations about how that could be true. I found another story about a young girl in the US, on the east coast, who started picking up transmissions from Amelia and wrote them down. But that just got me thinking about how it would feel to get these radio signals from someone. That kind of turned into a contemporary story about two girls who find a radio in the attic, and it's receiving these signals from Amelia. What would they do? What would happen if they actually helped her using today’s technology? What would the world be like if this great female aviator survived and went on to do great things in the world?

    PAFIA: What were some of the challenges you encountered?

    Matthew: At that time in April of 2020, we were ordered not to leave our homes for any non-essential things during the COVID-19 pandemic. We didn't have any film gear, we didn't have any crew, all we had was whatever was in our house. I had an old camera, an HD camera that was not really up to date. My girls weren't necessarily actors, so we really had to overcome all these obstacles, and then the post-production was done completely remote, right when Zoom and virtual meetings were starting to become more important.

    PAFIA: The burning question: How did you arrange the budget?

    Matthew: Well, this was pretty much a no-budget film. Really, the thing we spent the most money on was the radio and the microphone. It was important that they look old, even more so than looking like authentic. They had to look cool and interesting for an audience of my daughter's ages. At the time they were nine and eleven years old. So, we wanted that radio to really feel like it was old and from another era. Dusty, interesting and mysterious. So, we searched around a lot at auctions, homes, and all different things. We ended up finding the radio at a local antique shop, and that ended up being probably the biggest piece of our budget.

    PAFIA: What are the plans for distribution?

    Matthew: We were happy that WQED, our PBS station in Pittsburgh, aired it as part of an independent film showcase. We've gone about the film festival route and we've made it available for physical copy sales on our website (savingamelia.com). Our plans are to just continue finishing the festival run and then making it available for anybody who wants it via physical copy or online viewing.

    PAFIA: Care to share all the amazing accomplishments, awards, and selections?

    Matthew: When we put it online for all of our friends and family to watch, we had like a thousand views within the first week, and we got a lot of great feedback. So we thought, “Well, maybe we'll put it in a film festival.” We found a family-based film festival, put it in there and we were nominated for the best short film and best family film. And from there, we had great feedback. So, we decided to put it into a bunch of other film festivals and it just kept getting in. I'd say it was accepted probably by 80% of the film festivals we sent it to. And out of probably half of those, it won some sort of award or was nominated for some recognition, so that was kind of surprising. But most surprising that we won an Emmy award. I remember sitting with my wife in a restaurant watching the live stream of the Emmy Awards when Saving Amelia was announced. It was so surprising, and my wife and the girls were overjoyed, especially when we got the trophy and everything. So that was really, really exciting.

    PAFIA: Which film festivals do you recommend submitting to?

    Matthew: The Boston International Kids Film Festival and the Seattle Children's Film Festival were great for us. The directors of those festivals communicated with me, and they were highly appreciative of the movie and gave great feedback. It made a remote festival experience very personal. But it was very special to be part of the Pittsburgh Shorts Fest and win Best Local Film.

    PAFIA: Why did you choose to film in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?

    Matthew: Well, we chose to film in PA because we were locked in our house and we live in Pennsylvania! But even if we weren't, we probably would've filmed it in Pennsylvania because Pennsylvania has so many different types of locations. You have forests, cities, fields, four different seasons. It's absolutely gorgeous. In my career, I've shot all over Pennsylvania. You can get so many different looks out of it. And so long as the story can fit in Pennsylvania, I would love to continue working in PA.

    PAFIA: What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?

    Matthew: I just think that if you’re looking for that small town, classic American feel, you just can't go wrong in Pennsylvania. We have such quaint little towns, whether blue-collar towns or more touristy-type towns. We have Ligonier on one hand and then Latrobe, which has old mills in it, and we're close to Pittsburgh. I love the tree-covered hills and ridges. It’s just a beautiful place.

    PAFIA: How did you get started in the film industry?

    Matthew: I went to college for communication at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and really just spent most of my time shooting films and different things. Then, when I moved to Pittsburgh I started working on films as part of the lighting crew and just loved it. I shot my own stuff and worked for different production companies. Eventually, I realized that unless I wanted to move away and not have a family, I probably wouldn't be a director or anything immediately. So, I chose to live in Pennsylvania, raise my family, build a small marketing and video business, and do short films on the side with the intention to do more as I get more time. As my business grows, I hope to eventually raise the money to do larger projects.

    PAFIA: What do you love most about your job?

    Matthew: I own a marketing agency, and I'm working with people every day to help them solve their problems and grow their business. I love helping business people solve challenges with marketing, advertising, and business growth.

    PAFIA: What was your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story while shooting this film?

    Matthew: Well, working with my daughters was interesting because they're not actors and they're not formally trained in any way, although they were very interested in it. I was really worried that they would not want to do it, that we'd start and they would kind of fizzle out, but that wasn't the case. My one daughter, who was kind of more into acting, was great. It was my other daughter who I wasn't sure of that really surprised me. They both did a fantastic job. Anna surprised me in her ability and how sweet she was on camera, but she did not like doing multiple takes. We would do one take and she would be like, “Alright, that’s good.” Anytime I film with her in the future, I’ll have to shoot with multiple cameras, so we can get more shots in one take.

    PAFIA: Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?

    Matthew: We work with a lot of Pennsylvania-based companies, so we plan to shoot some promotional materials and tourism stuff. We do a lot of work in Pennsylvania, but the sequel to saving Amelia that we're currently writing is pretty exciting. We fictionalize the aftermath of a historical event that happened in Western Pennsylvania. It has to do with aliens, the government, and all that kind of fun stuff that every kid’s adventure movies from the 80s kind of deals with. That will definitely be filmed in Pennsylvania, as we develop that idea.

    PAFIA: 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 PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?

    Matthew: Without the PA film tax, I never would've worked on movies. It was in 2006 that I started, and only a couple years before that, there had been some changes in the film tax. I worked with a lot of folks on movies in the 90s that filmed in Pittsburgh, like Sudden Death and Silence of the Lambs. They were very excited to get back into it. Without that film tax credit, I don't think films like that would've come back. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to work on films and grow my knowledge and love of film. I don't think Pittsburgh would be on the map as much. I don't think that the industry would've grown here. And since then, we've had tons of movies film here, and it's been really exciting. I know a lot of my friends in the industry have been able to stay in Pennsylvania and have meaningful work instead of having to move to a coast, away from their family and their hometown.

    PAFIA: What is your advice for aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?

    Matthew: I think that there's no one path to making films, and the technology is so available, especially since I used an old cruddy camera to make Saving Amelia. I never would use it on a commercial job, but it's almost like nobody cared when they saw the final product. It was the story, the performances, and the excitement of the film that drew people in, not what kind of lights I used, or the number of cranes, cameras, and lenses.

    PAFIA: What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?

    Matthew: I think one of the things I learned is everything really starts with a great story. Something that people really will connect with, and obviously good filmmaking techniques are important, the fundamentals of editing and shot structure and things like that, composition. But I think I learned that having the perfect equipment is not as important as having a great story and just doing it. Not waiting until you have everything lined up perfectly, but to just take the first step, make the film, learn from it, grow, and move to the next step.

    PAFIA: What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?

    Matthew: Honestly, my biggest aspiration is to be able to tell stories I love and do it in a way that allows me to feed my family, live where I want to live, and not have to be changing everything about me to tell stories and make films. I'm 40 now, and as I get older, I love the idea of being able to live in Western PA and being able think of and write great stories, knowing that there are people nearby because of the industry here that could help put on a production. Entering film festivals, being able to share that work on many platforms with the world and knowing that people are really seeing it, that they're happy and enjoying the work. Knowing that if it goes somewhere, if it allows me to make the next film, then it's a win. Just being able to make something that allows me to take that next step, I think is really good.

    PAFIA: What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?

    Matthew: Anybody looking to work with Headspace Media on upcoming projects, whether they're our narrative projects or commercial projects for clients can reach out to us by visiting our website, www.headspace.media. You can reach out to us through our website and let us know who you are, and what you're interested in. We'd love to connect with you on the right project.

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Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)
461 Cochran Road, Box 246
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(717) 833-4561  info@pafia.org

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