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!
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.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org
First Published April 20, 2022, 4:04pm
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.
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.
PA Film Industry Association Interview with Matthew Fridg
Interview By: PAFIA Vice-Chair
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.
January 2022 Recap
The task of finalizing new congressional and state legislative district maps was the focus in Harrisburg for the first month of 2022. In the end, Governor Wolf vetoed the congressional redistricting proposal that was sent to his desk, House Bill 2146. The task is now up to the PA court system to finalize the state’s 17 congressional districts. Relating to the new PA House and Senate districts, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission has scheduled a vote for early February in the hopes of finalizing a reapportionment plan. It is expected that the argument over the new state maps will also end up in court.
Even though maps have not been finalized, several members of the House and Senate have announced that they will not seek re-election for their current position in this year’s elections. It seems like additional members are added to this list daily, but right now this is the list:
New maps aside, there was a significant sign of bi-partisanship in Harrisburg this month as Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation (HB 253) to provide $225 million in federal aid to front-line health care workers. The measure was supported by legislators from both sides of the aisle. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure that resources go to health care workers assisting patients throughout the pandemic. Hospitals will determine how to divvy up the dollars among workers, but lawmakers said the state will be monitoring how the funds are used to ensure that funds go to health care workers.
Looking ahead to February, Governor Wolf will present his 8th and final budget proposal to the PA Legislature on Tuesday, February 8. With an $8 billion revenue surplus, the financial outlook for the Commonwealth looks solid. However, most of those excess dollars do come from one-time federal funding that hasn’t yet been allocated for spending by PA elected officials. While it is anticipated that Governor Wolf will request additional funding for education, the full scope of his spending plan will not be announced until his budget address.
Since the Entertainment Production Tax Credit is off budget and not including in spending packages, we don’t expect Governor Wolf to mention the film tax credit or any other tax credit for that matter. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will begin their budget hearings in mid-February. Those hearings run through mid-March. The PA Department of Community and Economic Development, which has oversight of the film tax credit, is scheduled to be in front of the House Appropriations Committee on February 17th and will be with the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 1.
We will be able to finalize PAFIA’s legislative outreach and budget strategy after budget hearings have ended. We look forward to your future engagement on this very important issue.
PAFIA Year End Wrap-Up
As 2021 comes to a close, I would like to start off by thanking all of our loyal and dedicated PAFIA members for supporting our organization. We started 2021 strong by working with the newly formed 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).
PAFIA partnered with the chairs of the Film Caucus and set the following goals for 2021:
We were successful in our efforts to rebrand the Film Industry Incentive, and we developed a great infographic to share the benefits of the Film Industry Incentive in Pennsylvania.
PAFIA was also successful in meeting individually with 20+ Senators and House Members via Zoom to educate them about the wide-reaching economic benefits of film production. Several of the PAFIA Board Members participated in these calls and shared personal testimonies to how their livelihood depends on expanding the Film Industry Incentive in Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, May 25th, The Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA) hosted a legislative reception in Harrisburg with the same goal of educating elected officials about the wide-reaching economic benefits of film production. Co-hosted by the four Film Caucus chairs: Senator Camera Bartolotta, Senator Jay Costa, Representative Joe Ciresi, and Representative Kathleen "KC" Tomlinson. The event was well attended with over 65 legislators and legislative staff who participated.
Despite our efforts, the Film Industry Incentive increase was not included in the budget, and remains at $75 million. I consider this a major loss for the Film Industry in Pennsylvania, and our focus remains on the future and how we can adjust our goals to move the needle forward.
While I am very disappointed that we were unsuccessful in our efforts increase the Incentive to $125 Million in 2021, PAFIA is taking proactive steps to continue our work in Harrisburg. With the help of our lobbyists at Cozen O'Connor, Jim Davis and Beth Brennan, I, David Haddad, traveled with my assistant Maeve Palmieri to meet with the four Film Caucus chairs on November 8th. During this meeting, we discussed what we need to do, how we can move forward, anticipations for who will run for Governor this year, the Budget in January, and most importantly, how we can strategize moving the needle forward to increase the Film Industry Incentive to $125 million.
There are a few ways that I would encourage you to become an active participant in the fight to expand the Film Industry Incentive.
1. Write the check. 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.
Become a PAFIA Member
Make a Donation to PAFIA
2. Donate to the local politicians that you support. I, David Haddad, have personally donated $500 to each of the Film Caucus chairs with my own money. The Film Community does not generally have a reputation for donating to politicians, and your presence, even small, would be helpful in our fight to increase the Incentive to $125 million. Given the time and significant commitment the four Film Caucus chairs have devoted to the Film Industry Incentive, I encourage you to donate to their campaigns, even just $5, $10, $20. A donation to any legislator can easily be done online.
3. Post on Social Media. 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.
These are small ways that you can do your part. In return, we promise to keep our presence in Harrisburg strong as an advocate for the Film workers in Pennsylvania.
I would be remiss if PAFIA did not acknowledge our partners at the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Film Offices with Commissioners Sharon Pinkenson and Dawn Keezer. These offices work tirelessly as the concierge for film jobs in Pennsylvania and there are productions knocking at our doors due to their stellar work in the film industry. I would also like to acknowledge the work that is being done in the film offices in Central PA, Northwestern PA, The Poconos, and Upstate Pennsylvania. Our hope is to grow the film communities in this area to show a strong presence in the state as a whole.
Thank you to the 23 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.
Finally, thank you to the 815 active PAFIA Members who have renewed their membership in 2021. Out of the 815 active members, 618 of those members are from our generous Sponsors and Corporate members who have donated between $500-$10,000. Their websites and logos are linked on the PAFIA website, please check them out.
Meet Our Sponsors
Meet Our Corporate Members
Our goal is to grow the membership to 1,500 members in 2022 to show the legislators that the Film Industry is strong! Please invite colleagues, friends, and family to join PAFIA to help us reach this goal.
Our ask to our PAFIA network is simple: DONATE to PAFIA, JOIN the organization & SHARE your story on social media.
I hope that you and your families have a safe and wonderful holiday season.
Chairman, The Pennsylvania Film Industry Association
October Monthly Recap
Both the PA House and Senate had two weeks of legislative session this month. While the 2021 legislative session is winding down, the politics heading into next year’s elections are starting to heat up. On October 13, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced his long-expected candidacy for PA governor. In contrast to the crowded open US Senate seat race that will be on next year’s ballot, Shapiro does not expect another prominent Democrat to enter the gubernatorial race. On the Republican side, rumors that PA Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman will announce his candidacy for governor continue to grow with many expecting his announcement to come sometime in November. The Republicans already have a crowded field for the gubernatorial primary and Corman joining that race could certain thin the field.
Some of the bigger policy discussions this month include:
- Wolf Administration Announces Vaccination Rates by Legislative District - The PA Department of Health released data showing vaccination rates by legislative district. According to the Wolf Administration, the overwhelming majority of the COVID-19 related cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Pennsylvania occurred in people who were not vaccinated. The state’s data doesn’t include Philadelphia. You can view the map here.
- RACP Deadline Extended - The Wolf Administration will extend a window to accept new Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) applications. The window opened on Monday, October 18, 2021 and will close on Monday, November 1, 2021.
- Lobbyist Reform Measures Advance – The PA House State Government Committee favorably reported out several pieces of legislation that would make various changes to the 2006 lobbyist disclosure law including, require lobbyists to register any clients seeking state financial assistance or grants and file quarterly reports disclosing if they hold any equity in an entity they are lobbying for; prohibit a state agency or entity from hiring an outside lobbyist or political consultant to lobby any branch of government; prevent lobbyists from also being registered as political consultants; and require all lobbyists to complete mandatory ethics training developed by the state department.
- Criminal Justice Reform Measures Move in Senate - The PA Senate Judiciary Committee approved changes to the state’s probation system as part of a broader package of bills aimed at reforming the criminal justice system. SB 913, sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R), streamlines the probation review process and sets realistic guidelines for when a significant parole violation would lead to a return prison stay. The bill will ensure that minor violations don’t become a probation-to-prison revolving door.
Looking ahead, the PA Legislature is closing in on the end of the first year of a two-year legislative session. This means that all bills from 2021 will carry over “as-is” into 2022. But time is running out for movement to occur on the bill in 2021 as there are only 6 session days planned for the Senate and 9 session days planned for the House between now and the end of the calendar year.
In film specific news, PAFIA President David Haddad will be coming to Harrisburg in on November 8th and 9th to meet with the four Film Caucus Chairs to discuss strategy for the remainder of 2021 and budget goals for 2022. We are looking forward to an engaging conversation with some of the Entertainment Production Tax Credit’s most ardent supporters.
On Monday, October 25, Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development held a public hearing about the economic benefits of the film industry in the City of Philadelphia. Held at the request of Councilperson Katherine Gilmore Richardson topics discussed included:
September 2021 Recap
Summer is officially over as the PA House and Senate returned to Harrisburg for legislative session after the Labor Day holiday. The House was in session for 7 days while the Senate had 6 voting sessions.
The month of September started on a positive note as the PA Department of Revenue released August 2021 collections announcing that revenues were ahead of estimates. Fiscal year to date General Fund collections total $5.3 billion, which is $132.4 million or 2.6 percent, above estimate. More on the department’s collection can be found here.
In COVID-19 related news, PA Auditor General Timothy DeFoor released a performance audit examining how the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) handled a process to grant waivers to businesses seeking to stay open during an emergency shutdown ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. At that time, Gov. Wolf ordered businesses not categorized as “life-sustaining” to close their locations to help slow the spread of COVID-19 as part of an emergency declaration. The audit recommends additional consultation to determine the definition of “life-sustaining,” among other issues. The recommendations are based on findings that DCED posted five different versions of the waiver application and changed guidance on what is “life sustaining” nine times while a document with frequently asked questions was revised 14 times, according to DeFoor.
More than 42,000 businesses sought a waiver from the governor’s closure order during spring 2020. DCED granted more than 7,000 waivers. A link to the audit can be found here.
For industry specific news, we continue our advocacy in support of the film industry and increased funding for the entertainment production tax credit. We will be gathering the Film Caucus chairs together soon to discuss strategy for the remainder of the current fiscal year which ends June 30, 2022. We will also discuss strategy as we look ahead to the Governor’s FY 2022-23 budget proposal and the budget negotiations that follow.
Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Commerce & Economic Development had announced a public hearing on Wednesday, October 6 at 2pm. This hearing has since been postponed to a later date. The committee was to hear testimony on Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson’s Resolution 210643. The resolution calls for hearings to discuss the economic impact of the film industry in Philadelphia. A link to the resolution can be found here. We will keep you posted when a new date for the hearing is announced.
PAFIA – August Report
The Covid-19 health pandemic and inquiries into the November 2020 general election remain hot topics in Harrisburg, even while the PA Legislature is in summer recess. The PA House and Senate return to session in mid and late September and we will keep you posted on the policy priorities of all four caucuses. Please let us know if you need any assistance in outreach to your local House or Senate member. The best time to introduce yourself is when there is no session and members are home in their district offices.
In non-Covid-19 or 2020 election news, Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) ordered a special election to coincide with Pennsylvania’s municipal general election on November 2, to fill the vacant seat in the 164th Legislative District in Delaware County. The seat was vacated when Margo Davidson (D-Delaware) resigned after charges of theft and election code violations were filed against her.
Also, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) announced an initiative to make all Senate expenses available to the public online beginning on September 1. This includes all office leases, per diems, reimbursements for meals and lodging, supplies, mileage, office maintenance and much more. The information will be available on a new webpage, which will be updated monthly by the Chief Clerk and will apply to all Senate offices — Republican, Democrat, Independent and institutional.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 email@example.com