• Friday, March 03, 2017 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    On February 23, John Mitchel, Kenneth McGregor and Renee Carrillo hosted another successful Film & Theatre Artist Exchange Networking Event at Dave & Busters for hundreds of local actors and filmmakers. The event celebrated Black History Month and African American filmmakers shared their films and inspiring success stories.

    Right at the event entrance, there was a full-height backdrop banner with the PaFIA logo among a few others for red carpet pictures, as well as PaFIA table set-up, where potential members could join, renew, or learn more about PaFIA and get a PaFIA pin for joining. Maria Breyman spoke from the stage on behalf of PaFIA about the importance of joining and supporting its mission of increasing tax credits and bringing more film work to Pennsylvania. She also described a number of great benefits that come with PaFIA membership such as free networking events with other industry professionals, free workshops with established filmmakers, and updates on upcoming Pennsylvania productions. Dom Frank, one of the presenters and Producer at Hard Floor Entertainment with 25 million dollar budget projects lined up, accentuated the need for tax credits in Pennsylvania and encouraged everyone to join PaFIA.

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze6GHAWrRro&feature=youtu.be

    Pictures: www.facebook.com/thefotowizard

  • Friday, February 24, 2017 10:53 AM | Anonymous

    On Tuesday, February 7, Governor Wolf gave his third budget address since being elected Governor. And the Governor held true to his word that he would not seek an increase in the tax rates for income or sales.

    Instead, the Governor proposed some consolidations (combining 4 departments – Health, Human Services, Aging and Drug & Alcohol – into one) and closings (closing a prison in western Pennsylvania) which would incur some savings. Additionally, the Governor proposed some new revenue options like internet gaming (approximately $150 million in estimated revenue) and also charging a $25 per resident fee if you live in a municipality which uses the state police for PRIMARY protection.

    And while I must STRESS to you that this is merely just his PROPOSAL, the Governor also wants to change state tax credits offered to businesses and other groups by 20 percent. This “cost-savings proposal” would convert an array of state tax credits into a block grant. That would enable Wolf Cabinet officials to give priority to those tax credits providing the greatest opportunities for business investment, education access and community development. The state revenue available to support these tax credits would be reduced by $100 million next year from a current level of nearly $500 million if lawmakers adopt the proposal.

    Department secretaries also would give priority to funding tax credits based in part on their performance in meeting goals and the demand for them, said state Budget Secretary Randy Albright.

    Listed individually, the Governor still “allocated” $65 million to the film tax credit; as well as new job tax credit, $10 million; research and development, $55 million; Keystone Opportunity Zones, $78 million; educational improvement, $125 million; educational opportunity scholarship tax, $50 million; historic preservation incentive, $3 million; and coal refuse energy and reclamation, $10 million.

    The important thing to note, again, is that this is just his proposal and details are still limited. More importantly, the governor’s tax credit proposal is already receiving pushback from lawmakers. And YOUR association, PaFIA, is meeting with legislators, the Governor’s office, and the Department of Community and Economic Development to voice our concerns with the block grant approach. PaFIA is also expressing appreciation for the program and sharing positive stories of film industry growth and progress over the years.

  • Monday, January 30, 2017 12:22 PM | Anonymous

    Not too long ago, getting a single movie made in Pittsburgh was a fairly big deal.

    With that milestone met, others came in steady succession: multiple movies in a year, multiple movies at the same time, a star-heavy, big-budget blockbuster like “The Dark Knight Rises,” an Oscar contender like “Fences.”

    However, if you ask Dawn Keezer, longtime director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, there's been one goal above them all.

    The “holy grail” is an episodic TV series.

    Now, Pittsburgh has three of them: ABC's “Downward Dog,” Netflix's David Fincher project “Mindhunter,” and Millvale- and Monroeville-shot “Outsiders,” which is premiering its second season Jan. 24 on WGN America.

    “It's exciting, and it's what we said would happen if we had sustainable film tax credits,” Keezer says. “Of course, Netflix doesn't consider itself television.

    “(Series television) provides longer employment and more opportunities for internal workforce development. They train from within … which allows people to progress in their careers.”

    If shows do well enough, they come back to shoot another season. And another.

    “Outsiders,” which focuses on an off-the-grid clan in Kentucky, looks set to be that breakout show that sticks around for awhile. Even though WGN America isn't really established yet as a home for original scripted shows, people have been finding “Outsiders.”

    “It's doing great,” Keezer says. “It's the No. 1 show on WGN.”

    Nickelodeon's kid-friendly “Supah Ninjas” with George Takei, was made in Pittsburgh and lasted two seasons, 2011-13. An eight-episode mini-series “The Kill Point” also was shot in Pittsburgh, and aired in 2007.

    Numerous TV pilots have been shot here, including “Justified,” which ended up going for five critically acclaimed seasons.

    Only the first episode was shot here.

    “Mindhunter” is a crime/detective story from David Fincher, who has made some of the best of the past few decades: “Seven,” “Zodiac” and “Gone Girl.” It's based on the book “Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit” and stars Jonathan Groff (“Glee”) and Anna Torv (“Fringe”).

    “Downward Dog,” about a dog that speaks directly to the camera about modern relationships, is intended as a summer replacement for ABC. It stars Allison Tolman (“Fargo”).

    “ ‘Downward Dog' is pretty special,” Keezer says. “It was created by Animal Inc. in Downtown Pittsburgh. It was produced by Jimmy Miller, who is from Pittsburgh. The production is Legendary Entertainment, which is Thomas Tull (the billionaire part-time Pittsburgher and part-owner of the Steelers). It was kind of this love story to Pittsburgh.”

    Movies tend to give you a fixed amount of time to scout, select and prep locations, says location manager John Adkins, who has worked on both, including “Outsiders.”

    “In a TV series, because you have this rotating cast of directors — and scripts come in as the series is shooting — we're constantly scouting, selecting and prepping throughout the season,” he says. “It's more of a hamster-wheel scenario.”

    As more movies and television shows are shot in Pittsburgh, more people are drawn to the trade. Chip Eccles, business representative for the film technicians and allied crafts union, IATSE Local No. 489, says they added 70 members in 2015, and 67 in 2016. He notes that 157 people from his union worked on “Downward Dog,” 252 worked on “Outsiders” and 362 worked on “Mindhunter.”

    This does not include the unions for camera, hair and makeup, production office, the Screen Actors Guild, the Director's Guild and Teamsters, to name a few of the unions that typically work on film sets.

    “It also does not include all the production assistants, and all the other non-union people,” Eccles says.

    Pennsylvania's film tax credit incentive is the key to making it all work, which Keezer never misses a chance to point out.

    “The film tax program has been in effect for 10 years,” she says. “We have interest in more (productions), but we don't have enough tax credits to support them. ‘Manifesto,' a Lionsgate production, went to Georgia because we didn't have enough (tax credits). Those are jobs we're just giving to another state. We have a $60 million (capped) tax credit — once it's gone, it's gone, and we lose other work.”

    When all things are equal (enough), Pittsburgh tends to win out on its own merits, Keezer says.

    “We're very fortunate to have the skills and experience levels,” she says. “They're the best workers in the country. We're known in the industry for having an amazing crew in our region.”

    For Pittsburgh residents, who find their street is blocked for a scene, it's still enough of a novelty that there's little backlash.

    “Ninety-five percent are very excited,” Adkins says. “One or two don't like to have their lifestyle disrupted in any way. And we are a disruption. Anybody who's got an issue, we try to address in person. We're very proud of our city, so showcasing it in movies and TV shows is something that many people in this city support.

    “There's still this sense around the country that we're this smoky city of the '70s. When people come in from New York, they're surprised at the beauty of the city, and how nice people are.”


  • Friday, January 20, 2017 12:32 PM | Anonymous

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tonight unveiled a state budget that includes a three-year extension of the state’s film production tax credit. Launched in 2004 and extended by Cuomo in 2013, the $420 million-a-year program isn’t set to expire until 2019 but was expected to run out of money later this year without the additional funding provided for in the new state budget.

    An economic impact report conducted for Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm, found that in one two-year period – 2013 and 2014 – the program had created more than $5 billion in spending in the state, generated nearly $10 billion in total spending throughout the state’s economy, created more than 60,000 jobs and $3.3 billion in earnings.

    Many in the state’s booming film and TV community had urged the governor to extend the program, including the New York Production Alliance and the DGA.

    “The Directors Guild of America applauds Governor Cuomo for his continued leadership, and thanks him for including a three-year extension of the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit in his budget,” the guild said in a statement. “The positive impact of the incentive on the economy, jobs and local business is enormous. Between 2005 and 2015, as production increased by more than 300%, the earnings of our members who live and work in New York’s communities grew 350%. This simply would not have happened without the incentive.”

    The program’s extension  also will be good for businesses like Kaufman Astoria Studios, which boasts the only studio backlot in New York City. “The governor’s support of the tax credit is a great economic policy,” said Hal G. Rosenbluth, the studio’s president and CEO. “The tax credit, combined with New York’s great talent, drives the $9 billion production industry in New York. The industry creates in excess of 100,000 high-paying jobs and spends millions of dollars in the local community for goods and services. Having the tax credit in place encourages Kaufman Astoria Studios and its counterparts to invest in building new infrastructure to service and grow the industry. With this extension of the tax credit the governor has established a win-win for the economy.”

    SAG-AFTRA said that it too is pleased with the extension and the jobs for performers it will bring to the state. “SAG-AFTRA is grateful to Governor Cuomo for his leadership in recognizing the substantial economic benefits this tax incentive program brings to New Yorkers,” said Mike Hodge, president of the union’s New York local. “Film, television and other productions now create over 140,000 SAG-AFTRA-covered entertainment jobs every year in New York. The proposed extension of the tax incentive program, combined with the extraordinary talent of our local members, will ensure that producers continue to invest and thrive here.”

    Source: http://deadline.com/2017/01/new-york-state-film-incentives-program-extended-1201888655/

  • Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    Judith M. Strazzera has been working in the film industry for the last 19 years after starting at 23 in Glendale, CA at a production facility working with major studios as their account representative. She then moved through the production facilities and managed edit bays and worked with creating theatrical trailers and teasers and helped process the QC, Editing Telecine, Digital Restoration and Film Lab processes for major features and independent projects. Eventually, Judith transitioned into Dispatching/DOT Administration where she worked for a number of projects before landing in Production Accounting, where she continues to work consecutively.

    Judith became involved with PaFIA after moving back to Pittsburgh, PA while working on several films. There she saw the direct rewards of the film tax credit to both her own livelihood and to the state.

    “The film tax credit means that more projects can get made that might not, due to budgetary concerns,” explains Judith. “The film tax credit allows for projects to receive rebates and credits and apply that money to the overall budget, while the state that is being filmed reaps the monetary benefits for the retail, real estate, hotel, rental car, travel and restaurant industries. The film tax credit levels the playing field for more projects to be made and has the added benefit of more locations and community benefits.”

    Judith encourages other PaFIA members to network with other members and continually speak about the positive impact of the benefits of the filmmaking on the local PA communities. She emphasizes:

    • Having the ability to work local
    • Giving back to the community at large by utilizing the communities around us
    • Using the influx of the capital from films and TV series and commercials

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:39 PM | Anonymous

    Happy New Year. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

    The House and Senate started a new two-year session on Tuesday, January 3, swearing in all 203 House members and 25 Senators. The 2017/2018 session that lies ahead will have many challenges, most notably the same one that has plagued this Commonwealth in recent memory – the budget.

    By the time the current fiscal year ends on June 30, many are predicting close to a $2 billion budget shortfall that will need to be addressed. What makes up the $2 billion? Annual carryforward pension costs, Medicaid spending and revenue expectations that were below projections, including the $100 million in revenue that was budgeted for internet gaming that was not approved.

    So, what does that mean for Pennsylvanians, and more specifically the film industry? A few significant things. While the Governor has stated publicly that he will not seek a broad-based tax increase (i.e. income or sales), I am sure those options will be debated among legislators. An increase in either of those taxes is the only realistic opportunity to generate year over year revenue into the annual budget. One-time opportunities are limited, and many have already been exhausted, like liquor privatization. The direct and REAL challenge and concern will be budget cuts. And this year, ALL tax credit programs will be under the microscope – including the film tax credit. The possibility of the program being impacted is real and PaFIA membership will need to become more engaged and contact their local State Representatives and Senators. PaFIA's leadership is monitoring the situation and will develop a strategy to responsibly and effectively communicate to elected officials the importance of the film tax credit to the industry as well as the individual members and businesses.

  • Wednesday, December 21, 2016 12:42 PM | Anonymous

    First and foremost, Happy Holidays to everyone. Pour yourself a glass of holiday cheer and drink up before reading the following state budget update.

    Good. Are you feeling warm and fuzzy? Things a little blurry? Well things are blurry in Harrisburg these days as well.

    In approximately 45 days (on February 7), Governor Wolf will give his third budget address. And in a little more than 6 months (the June 30 budget deadline), the House and Senate will hopefully be debating and passing a balanced budget. Pennsylvania residents concerned about the state’s fiscal health probably would have preferred a lump of coal for their Christmas stockings rather than the troubling financial report handed down last Wednesday, December 14. According to the mid-fiscal year assessment by Budget Secretary Randy Albright, Commonwealth revenues will be at least $600 million short of paying for current budget year spending. The Legislature’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office projects a $1.7 billion deficit for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins July 1.

    Part of the reason for the $600 million and $1.7 billion estimates is that the Legislature didn’t complete all of its funding work for the 2016-17 spending package, including controversial gambling expansion – which was earmarked to generate $100 million in revenue. Beyond not funding the budget completely, the Legislature plugged into the current budget overly optimistic incoming-revenue projections. According to Albright, the administration will be working to close the $600 million hole, with General Fund tax revenues being $129 million short of estimates for the month of November alone. Wolf has previously proposed tax hikes to right the commonwealth’s fiscal ship, while Republican lawmakers have remained strongly opposed. Without a turnaround in the state’s fiscal fortunes, a tax hike is looming, if not sooner than later – and the later it is, the bigger the increase could be.

    And until a broad-based tax increase is given serious consideration, all tax credits in Pennsylvania – including the film tax credit – could potentially be cut or eliminated as a way to plug the budget hole.

  • Monday, December 05, 2016 12:43 PM | Anonymous


    • Donad Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 64,000 votes (48.76% to 47.68%)

    US Senate

    • US Senator Republican Pat Toomey defeated Katie McGinty by 96,000 votes (48.89% to 47.26%)

    Statewide Races

    • Atty General  Democrat Josh Shapiro defeated John Rafferty by 159,000 votes (51.4% to 48.6%)
    • Auditor General  Incumbent Democrat Eugene DePasquale defeated John Brown (50% to 45%)
    • Treasurer – Democrat Joe Torsella defeated Otto Voit (51% to 44%)

    PA Senate (31 Republican, 19 Dems PRIOR to election)
    Incumbent Senator Teplitz was defeated by Republican challenger John DiSanto 
    Incumbent Democrat Senator Sean Wiley loses to Republican Dan Laughlin
    Republican Wayne Langerholc defeats Democrat Ed Cernic (Former John Wozniak seat)

    Republican Senator Tom Killion won a close race for re-election
    Republican Mike Regan easily defeated John Bosha (former Pat Vance seat)
    Republican Scott Martin defeated Greg Paulson (former Lloyd Smucker seat)
    Democrat Sharif Street ran unopposed for open seat (former Shirley Kitchen seat)

    31 Republican, 19 Dems PRIOR to election 
    Senate Rs gain 3 seats 
    New makeup: 34 Rs/16 Ds

    PA House – upsets/close races
    Incumbent Democrat Jarrett Gibbons lost to Republican Aaron Bernstine
    Incumbent Tim Mahoney lost to Republican Matthew Dowling
    Incumbent David Parker lost to Democrat Maureen Madden
    Incumbent Democrat Leanne Kruger-Braneky narrowly defeated Republican Morrisette Rodgers
    Incumbent Republican Dan Truitt beat challenger Carolyn Comitta by 80 votes
    Incumbent Democrat Minority Whip Mike Hanna withstood serious challenge

    House of Representatives - Open Seat Winners 
    Rep. Peter Daley (D-Washington) – Republican Donald Cook
    Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Westmoreland) – Republican Justin Walsh

    Rep. Nick Kotik (D-Allegheny) – Democrat Anita Astorino Kulik
    Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon) – Republican Frank Ryan
    Rep. John Payne (R-Dauphin) – Republican Tom Mehaffie
    Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna) – Republican Jonathan Fritz
    Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) – Republican Michael Corr
    Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) – Republican Eric Roe
    Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (D-Chester) – Democrat Brian Kirklan
    Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) – Republican Alex Charlton
    Rep. Julie Harhart (R-Northampton) – Republican Zachary Mako
    Rep. Kevin Schreiber (D-York) – Democrat Carol Hill-Evans

    Rep. Steve Santasiero (D – Montgomery) – Democrat Perry Warren
    Rep. Mike Regan (R-Cumberland) – Republican Dawn Keefer
    Rep Tonyelle Cook-Artis (D-Philadelphia)  Democrat Chris Rabb defeated Latry McDowell
    Rep Mark Cohen (D-Philadelphia)  Democrat Jared Solomon
    ep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia)  Democrat Isabella Fitzgerald

    Previous makeup of House 119 Rs/84 Ds
    Republicans gain 3 seats (4 went R, 1 went D)
    New Makeup of House 122 Rs/81 Ds

  • Monday, October 03, 2016 12:45 PM | Anonymous

    It is important that all PAFIA members contact their State Senators and House Representatives to let those in Harrisburg know that we feel strongly about the film tax credit. To find your Legislator, please go to the following  link:  http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

  • Tuesday, June 21, 2016 12:47 PM | Anonymous

    By: Lisa Budwig

    The company description of TC Motion is “a motion communications content provider serving advertising agencies, broadcasters, and corporate communicators.” But their tagline, “Anywhere Pictures Move,” really does say it all… about the company and the man who runs it. For Max Zug, the love of film was and remains inspired by the technical magic of “frame plus frame equals motion.”

    It was at Temple University Ambler on the first day of his college class, “Film – Light and Shadows,” that Max’s love of film manifested into a career choice. After graduation, the goal was to direct, but while all his college friends headed to NYC or L.A., Max returned to Berks County, dedicated to helping his family and determined to work in film in whatever ways he could find locally. From volunteering at BCTV where he ran a camera, to a small CBS affiliate where he learned to make low budget commercials, to WGALTV’s PM Magazine, where he was hired as a videographer, Max took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. At WGAL, he added editing and field producing to his resume and quickly rose to the position of senior producer, working on national stories.

    Ever eager to learn, he moved on to Ford New Holland’s internal production company, and when that division went independent, as VMI Communications, Max negotiated an equity stake. During his time with VMI, he did what he says is perhaps the most important thing anyone pursuing this business can do – he “shot a lot of film” – more than 55,000 feet of film one summer. Eventually Max parlayed that ownership stake, along with his experience, knowledge, skills, and the strong relationships he’d built over the previous decade, into starting his own company, MaxFilms, which would become the premier regional film and commercial production house between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

    By 2010, the economy, MaxFilms, and Max himself had gone through changes, and he was approached by former colleagues with an opportunity to run the business with full creative control, but without sole ownership responsibility, and TC Motion, the in-house video production division of TC Studios, was born.

    TC Motion offers “script to screen” services for national advertisers and corporations, including Pergo, Armstrong, Chicco, Moen, and Sharp, among many others, with 90,000 feet of studio space and state of the art editing, motion graphics, and shooting capabilities. They employ dozens of talented, highly skilled people in the creation of what Max describes not as commercials, but “30-second films” and “marketing narratives.”

    For Max, being an involved member of PaFIA just makes good sense for both TC Motion and the Lancaster County economy. As a local employer that collaborates with other local companies and uses local suppliers, he says PaFIA’s work to expand the film tax credits makes it a valuable partner in advocating for and building a vibrant film industry community, and that wouldbenefit all businesses.

    Increased tax credits would allow for more film development and production in Central Pennsylvania and would provide meaningful creative work for hundreds of people, from actors to craftsmen to caterers right where they live. It would also bring added dollars to all the local support service businesses, like construction, hotels, food service, locations, transportation, and many others. For them, membership and involvement in PaFIA is an investment in the future of their businesses.

    Finally, from a personal perspective, Max believes an essential benefit of PaFIA membership for anyone in the film industry is the opportunity to make and share connections and build relationships. After all, he wouldn’t be where he is today without those strong relationships of his past, his “big fat rolodex,” of skilled, talented, and supportive people who gave him opportunities and shared their expertise along the way…a rolodex that now includes those passionate new film lovers to whom he offers his expertise and mentorship to ensure the pictures keep moving.

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

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