Pennsylvania’s primary election on April 26th has come and gone, with no incumbents being ousted as fallout from last year’s budget impasse. So now, as session continues into May and June, the attention turns again to the Budget. And while the state budget isn’t due for two months, neither side appears to have moved away from the hard-and-fast positions staked out during the historic impasse. Governor Wolf still wants a broad-based tax increase to raise enough money to close the deficit and increase funding for public schools. And the Republicans who control the General Assembly still believe tax increases should be a last resort, and that a mix of cuts and smarter budgeting will produce a good plan. Last year’s battle included several tentative deals, collapses and vetoes, ending when Mr. Wolf declined in March to veto or sign the GOP’s latest proposal, completing a budget of about $30 billion. He pledged to renew the fight this budget season.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed has said the parallels in the two years — the personalities and issues remain the same — could actually help the process this time around. As the Leader pointed out, last year there was a new governor, new leadership in the House and the Senate you had a new session and you were starting from scratch. This year we’re not starting from scratch. Talks have quietly been going on for weeks. Governor Wolf’s spokesman said the governor has hopes for an on-time budget (by June 30). PaFIA will be advocating for an on-time budget that includes a long overdue increase to the $60 million annual allocation to the Film Tax Credit Program.
As an important reminder, all House seats have elections on November 8th, as well as half of the Senate seats. What does that mean? It means that voting for new or increased taxes remains and very RISKY political endeavor. I only hope this won’t be the budget version of Groundhog Day.
Hertz Entertainment Services, a division of the Hertz Corporation, is a single-source car and equipment rental solutions to the entertainment and special events industries. Hertz Entertainment Services (HES) provides customized vehicle and equipment rental solutions to movie, film and television productions, live sports and entertainment events, and all-occasion special events, such as weddings, conventions, and fairs. Launched initially in New York in 2009, Hertz Entertainment Services now has coverage throughout the United States Coordinating sales by Philadelphia International Airport for the last 2 years is Adam McNichol, who has been with the Hertz Cooperation for 4 years. “I love being behind the scenes,” says Adam. “The fast pace and always changing plans are a welcome challenge. I also love movies and I am intrigued of how much needs to come together to make it happen!”
Adam first learned about the PaFIA through Production Coordinator and PaFIA Board Member, David Raynor. “After some research we thought it was important to get involved because of the work we do with the entertainment market in Pennsylvania. When the crews are working a production it means that we are working also so it is important to help drive the ideas and needs of the film industry.“
Vocal about wanting to take an even more active role in the organization since becoming a Corporate Sponsor last year Adam says, “I wanted to get more involved with PaFIA because I think it is important that the state address the Tax Credit and truly see how much revenue generation is made by filming in Pennsylvania. Not only with your cooperate companies but with every business in the town where the crew is working from the equipment suppliers like us down to the gas station at the end of the street where the crew is filling their cars. It has a very long reach of which many are just not aware. “
When asked just how the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit effects Hertz Entertainment Services, Adam replied, “If we have equipment heading out then it is creating work for many people, you have the reps taking the call, the mechanics ensuring the equipment is ready and safe and the truck drivers delivering.”
What does a typical entertainment rental consist of?
“Most of the entertainment rentals that we do will consist of a lot of boom lifts, fork lifts and scissor lifts. We are available 24/7 for anything that could come up and very willing to help. We work very closely with the production staff to ensure you are getting what you need when you need it. In Pennsylvania we do a lot of aerial lifts and forklifts.”
Hertz Entertainment offers everything from blacked out Boom Lifts from 30’ to 125’, scissor lifts, personal lifts, light towers, forklifts to carts. They also offer Hvac and Generator services perfect for heating or cooling a tent for location shoots.
But do you get to drive the dream cars around the lot?
We sadly do not have a dream location at my office, but I am a huge car guy and would be in them in a second if we did!
On Saturday, April 30, PaFIA board members Ray Carballada, John Rusk,Maria Breyman, Mike McCann, Heather Tassoni and Diane Heery attended “Night at the Fights”, a fundraiser for the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.
The event was a lively evening of performances by local musicians, celebrity boxing, dinner and lots of networking. Maria Breyman and her husband, Nikolay, helped man the PaFIA information table, where many people learned about PaFIA and our mission.
Members of Philadelphia’s City Council, organized labor leaders and many local celebrities made the evening very worthwhile (and fun!)
PaFIA ‘s logo was even featured on the lighting banner that surrounded the arena!
By: Meagan Hill
On March 30, PaFIA members Meagan Hill and Tom and Helen McNutt participated in the second annual School of Media and Communication Internship and Career Fair at Temple University. Students received information about the benefits of memberships in both PaFIA and in SAG-AFTRA and how our two organizations work together.
Philadelphia Local SAG-AFTRA President, Tom McNutt told the students that it’s good to have an advocate, like SAG-AFTRA, who will be there to nurture and guide the performer. National board member, Helen McNutt added, “It’s tough trying to make a living in the industry alone. The union will protect them.” Students also learned that PaFIA is there to help and support all aspects of the film industry.
SAG-AFTRA board member, Meagan Hill, explained how hiring trained union talent can help speed up film production. “Pennsylvania artists and crews are visibly distinct from the rest. We clearly show the training, dedication and professionalism that took years to attain and was hard won. The Guild and the film industry of Pennsylvania should be synonymous for excellence. Professionalism will reduce production time by adding value through skill.”
By: John Rokosz
Actor, writer, and producer Jean Zarzour was the energetic speaker for a fun evening at Cioppino’s on Sunday, April 17. Besides having an extensive resume in film, TV and print, Jean serves as an instructor for theatrical improv and voice acting. Her customized sketch and improv comedy group, Lipschtick, provides informative seminars that are geared towards improving communication and teamwork among actors and non-actors alike. In addition, Find Your Voice! is Jean’s voice over training institute that teaches students of all ages to use their voice with more control and confidence.
For the captive audience on Sunday evening, Jean’s expertise translated into an entertaining yet educational seminar on improvisation for actors, and confident pitching for producers. With four exercises that encouraged crowd participation, Jean demonstrated the importance of active listening when pitching and improvising, and the need to step out of one’s comfort zone in order to make an impression. The group dynamic quickly energized with Jean’s supportive encouragement, as several members of the crowd “came out of their shells” to stand in front of the audience and pitch improvised film ideas; debate with each other about an improvised topic, then completely switching viewpoints in an instant; and use physical action to mime creative scenes and images. It was an exciting evening that promoted teamwork and interaction with a great group of actors, producers, writers, and PaFIA corporate members—a strong and growing network that PaFIA is proud to foster at each of these events.
Jean’s bio and portfolio are available on IMDb, with more information on her website at www.jeanzarzour.com. Please also visit www.lipschtick.com and www.findyourvoice-voiceactinginstitute.blogspot.com for more opportunities to learn about improvisation and voice acting. A big thank you to Jean, and to Cioppino’s for hosting another successful PaFIA event!
To see photos from this great event, click here!
Last month, Governor Wolf allowed the $6 billion GOP-crafted supplemental budget bill (HB 1801) to become law without his signature. At the time, Wolf insisted the spending plan remained out of balance and said he cannot put his name on a plan that spends more dollars than exist. This action set the final state spending for the current budget year at slightly more than $30 billion with $200 million new dollars for public schools. It also allowed critical dollars to flow to schools and other services, while pushing this year’s revenue discussions to the 2016-17 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Wolf warned that the next fiscal year, which already has a $2 billion deficit, will now begin with an extra $300 million deficit.
And just as there was a certain sense of relief, the Governor vetoed the Fiscal Code bill (HB 1327), which is important companion legislation to the state budget. The Fiscal Code is the roadmap for how state budget dollars are spent, ranging from the distribution of education dollars to the allocation of payments to Pennsylvania’s County Fairs.
As recently as last week, legislative votes on a revised fiscal code bill (HB1589) emerged with veto-proof majorities (2/3 approval). It was an ominous sign for Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf. Democrat lawmakers are beginning to see that their unswerving loyalty to Wolf last year brought them little more than a nine-month budget impasse, school districts running out of money and human services agencies stretched to the max. If Wolf persists, he could become the first governor in recent history to have a veto overridden. It’s more significant potentially as a message to Wolf on the 2016-17 budget. Work on it will get under way in earnest after the April 26 primary. After last year’s fiasco, lawmakers of both parties are hopeful for a timely, if not early, budget.
Film Tax Credit
As we are all painfully aware, allocation to the Film Tax Credit program requires annual approval as part of the budget. As such, budget delays, especially for significant periods of time, directly impacts the approval of film tax credit applications. And unfortunately, decisions are sometimes made to shoot elsewhere because of the budget uncertainty.
So PaFIA’s efforts are two-fold: increasing the $60 million annual allocation to the program AND advocating for a timely budget so delays won’t negatively impact the program. The obvious question – what does “increasing the annual allocation” mean? PaFIA’s position is simple, the greater the number allocated to the film tax credit, the more jobs created and additional investment into our communities. At the very least, PaFIA believes that moving the program BACK to $75 million (the original allocation under Rendell). A 50% increase (to $90 million) or beyond will allow for the industry to grow, bring more projects, and not require the state to pick winners and losers because of a limited pool of credits that the Department of Community & Economic Development can approve.
So, What’s Next?
The Pennsylvania primary is Tuesday, April 26. The House of Representatives will return to session on Monday, May 2. The Senate of Pennsylvania will return to session on Monday, May 9. 2016/2017 budget negotiations will “heat up” as the month goes on, bringing us to June, which is historically the busiest month of the year with the budget. With a budget deadline of June 30th, the Governor, Senate, and House will all try to resolve past differences and have a budget approved by the end of June. With 2016 being an election year, legislators will TRY and give voters a reason to re-elect incumbents. BUT, with that being said, a vote to increase any taxes (income or sales) or to create new taxes, is a very risky political move and could have serious consequences to those trying to REMAIN in office.
Oh the joys of an election year.
By: Dave Ferrier
The latest Film & Theatre Artist’s Exchange event that took place on Wednesday night at Dave & Busters was another huge success. Hosted by John Mitchel, Kenneth McGregor and Renee Carrillo, hundreds of actors, filmmakers, producers and more crowded the red carpet, heard informative presentations and watched previews of some amazing local films.
“This is about getting work, a community looking after one another, supporting one another, learning from each other, and talking to one another,” McGregor said at the start of the event. “There are producers here who are getting it done!”
The Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PaFIA) table was abuzz with Maria Breyman talking with prospective members about the benefits of joining. There were a lot of aspiring actors and filmmakers, looking for guidance in the industry and eager to get in front of the right people. They were impressed by how many famous professionals presented at PaFIA events, such as Edward Saxon – Producer of Silence of the Lambs, and George Parra – Producer of Silver Linings Playbook. During Maria’s stage presentation she said “Our goal is to turn your dream into your full-time job!”
By: Jalia Moody
Tap and Kitchen hosted PaFIA’s lively producer’s panel March 29 in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. The panel consisted of Philadelphia’s own George Roach (producer/photojournalist at Fox News, WTXF), Robert Drake (Producer of Kids Corner, XPN), Jason Loftus (independent film producer and partner of Heery-Loftus Casting), and Chayne Gregg (producer/co-founder of FreshFly). The producer’s panel had 70 in attendance including 8 new members and 3 renewals and was hosted by Assistant Director and Producer, John Rusk.
Old and new members feasted on Tap and Kitchen’s fried pickles, fried calamari and buffalo wings with a spread of shredded carrots and celery. The panel discussion quickly commenced with Diane Heery taking the microphone and emphasizing one of PaFIA’s main goals: “… to fill the film industry in Pennsylvania.” Diane explained that PaFIA’s continuous goal is to grow its membership. She further explained PaFIA’s instrumental presence in rewriting the child labor laws in the state of Pennsylvania. PaFIA focuses on other issues besides the film tax credit. Diane added that PaFIA is an organization that brings together the film production crew and people in the industry.
The panel of producers started the conversation with an overview of their current projects and role in the industry. The next line of questioning: managerial vs. creative, a producer’s role on projects. Every producer on the panel represented his own medium of the industry: Roach (TV); Drake (radio); Loftus and Greg (film). Each producer later explained how his role changed and where each saw his role in the future.
John Rusk opened the floor to questions and answers. Though one question represented what many people want to know: how do you successfully get funding for a film? The questions ranged from finding a foundation that match the topic of your story to try cold calling a key number of money people to the well-said “be honest” and make investors believe in you and your project. One producer explained to make your deal one-sided when speaking with an investor: only the investor will be profiting from the investment. It’s in your deal that no one gets in front of the investors.
Facebook posts confirmed how PaFIA events like this one reunited Philadelphia’s own local talent of crew members. Moments of dialogue among film production crew and people in the industry are needed. As Diane mentioned, Hollywood shops and we must maintain the best deal to do production work in the state Pennsylvania. Why? We are state with cities like no other—from Philadelphia to Harrisburg— that contain stories of history, character, and noteworthy landmarks that attract tourists. We have to make it a priority for productions to be excited and honored to film in a state like ours!
To see photos from this event, click here!
The ongoing effort of protecting the film industry in Pennsylvania is championed by hardworking people that love their city. James Mahathey, now a proud PaFIA board member, is one of those people. A longstanding career in Pittsburgh film became both the reason and the method through which James is contributing to that cause today.
James Mahathey, born in Penn Hills, has become a hometown success story in Pittsburgh film. He currently acts as a Location Manager, and has worked in the industry for 20 years. His department is responsible for location scouting, permit and contract acquisition, and the coordination of space for cars, trucks, trailers, and catering. Some of his larger projects include Desperate Measures, Wonderboys, The Mothman Prophecies, Kill Point, She’s Out of My League, Unstoppable, and The Dark Knight Rises. Today, he lives in the North Hills, married with children, and serves as a PaFIA board member on their membership committee.
Looking at his experience, James seems destined to make a difference in Pittsburgh film. He attended the Pittsburgh Filmmakers school and graduated from Point Park University, where he earned an internship with the Pittsburgh Film Office. His primary task was maintaining location folders, which organize anything from scouting pics, to paperwork, to the plans for assembling film sets. During his senior year, he took over a night location shoot when a problem with the location photos threatened to delay set building. Working all night, James saved the project to meet the producers’ demands. More and more gigs quickly began to pop up, through which James was able to prove himself and his craft. Immediately after senior year, he was offered his first official gig on Desperate Measures, with Michael Keaton and Andy Garcia.
As the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia film industries matured, PaFIA was formed to provide a state-wide conversation about what it meant to keep film projects coming to PA. James joined the cause when PaFIA first started, and was clear about his reasoning: “It’s a good way to let the government know we have a strong workforce. Over the past five years, we’ve seen an encouraging increase of crew in the city.” As a contributor to the membership committee, James is focused on increasing the global awareness of PaFIA, which includes membership from film crew, students, and even corporate vendors that service the film industry.
His efforts on the set and on the PaFIA board have certainly been worth it. The film tax credit has once again been renewed, which is the key to keeping work here in the state. With a steady career in film, James was able to pay off his bills, and bought his own house in January, 2009. Proud to be working in the city he calls home, he remarked: “Now that I’m married with kids, I want to stay in town as long as I can. It’s the tax credit that makes that possible.” More and more film crew are following James’ lead; digging their feet into the region, getting involved in PaFIA, and ensuring the industry’s continued success. It’s exciting to see more and more of these hometown heroes paving the way for generations to come.
The Milken Institute, the nonprofit think tank known for data driven studies offering solutions to policy initiatives, has turned it’s eyes on Pittsburgh’s film and media scene in the hopes of determining what makes Pittsburgh home to what is called “a thriving cluster of media related jobs.” Their report calls for the Pittsburgh Film Office to develop and advocate three main objectives for the stakeholders in order to compete with cities such as Atlanta, New Orleans, Toronto and New York. According to the report, it will be vital to invest in entertainment infrastructure, create and retain a skilled entertainment workforce and ensure political support and long-term commitment to film incentives if the region wishes to keep it’s advantage.
To view report, click here.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org