• Tuesday, May 04, 2021 3:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Made in Chinatown is the first-ever Mafia-Kung Fu mashup where the comedy sensitively handles, with more commentary than spoof, the timely Asian immigrant experience, as well as racial stereotyping and labelling. With some of the most recognizable actors known for portraying mafiosos (Tony Darrow, Vincent Pastore, Tony Ray Rossi), a pair of Hong Kong cinema legends (Lo Meng, Chiu Chi Ling), and the broad talents of Raymond J. Barry, protagonist “Vinny” Chow (portrayed by Jay Kwon) embarks on a quest to join the Italian Mob and become a Wiseguy. He finds himself unwittingly caught up in two love stories – his Chinese culture and the Italian culture he emulates based on The Godfather and Goodfellas, and his fantasy [Italian] dream date and the perfect [Chinese] girl next door. The fast-paced romp is written by martial arts hall of famer and award-winning publisher Mark V. Wiley, is co-directed by Bobby Samuels and Emmy Award® winner James Lew and features a treasure trove of hidden references to everyone’s favorite kung-fu and mob movies, twisted references to classic books, and other easter eggs to delight cinephiles. Having won seven festival awards and terrific advance reviews, Made in Chinatown is set to release on cable, streaming and DVD on May 11, 2021. 

    How did you come up with the idea and how did you get it going? In 1999 I came up with the premise while visiting New York Chinatown. I tried to enter a “private” Chinese kung-fu club and was told, “Chinese only.” Disappointed, I walked across Canal St into Little Italy for lunch and thought what would happen if a Chinese guy tried to join a “private” Italian club. The story developed from there, scenes coming to mind, until a story came into focus. I sent the script to several “coverage” readers and incorporated their notes into the story, then sent the script to every director and producer in “Hollywood” I could think of. I knew they’d all love it and jump on board. Such naiveté.

    What were some challenges that you have encountered?

    For over a decade I couldn’t get anyone to read the script or consider the project for production. Then I approached Shing Ka, a veteran actor and student of a kung-fu master I am friends with. Shing was working on another film that featured some actors I wanted for my film and with his help I was able to get a few cast members in place. With that I went out and raised the financing myself. Then the financing fell through due to political issues between our country and the country where the funding was coming from. But I had actors’ time blocked and needed to refinance the film again. I did and we began production.

    The burning question: how did you arrange the budget?

    One night before Christmas in 2017 I was having tea with a Chinese businessman. He asked me what I was working on and I shared the story. It resonated with him, having immigrated to NY Chinatown as a boy he understood the dilemma of the protagonist. He helped arrange the first round of full funding with investors in China. When that fell through at the 11th hour, I happened to reconnect with an old co-worker who had seen news of the film on social media. He recalled reading the first drafts in 1999-2001 and was excited for me. I told him how the Chinese investor was excited and then how the funds fell away. He then reached to his business contacts and pulled nine people together to cover the production budget. I would then raise the rest of the budget needed for post-production. Well, after committing to final funding and even after being on set over a dozen times and meeting everyone, the final investors never came through and we ran out of funds. This created a huge problem for payroll, with SAG, and of course with some of the cast and crew. But I never gave up, everyone was paid shortly thereafter, but there was a long delay in post-production due to funding. But here we are today, three years to the month of pre-production, and the film is releasing!

    What are the plans for distribution?

    I am blessed that we signed a world rights distribution agreement with Vision Films. They have 30 years’ experience as one of the leading indie distributors in the US and Internationally. May 11, 2021 Made in Chinatown will become available on cable and streaming platforms and on DVD.

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

    The biggest accomplishments for me, personally, were getting all these amazing actors that I have admired for decades agree to be in the film. People like Tony Darrow, Vincent Pastore, Raymond J. Barry, Lo Meng and others. I would never have thought my little idea would blossom into a potential cult hit because of the cast that came on and brought their magic to the roles. And of course, getting the film into production and finally out of post-production and picked up for distribution are long fought accomplishments for me. For the cast and crew, the accomplishments are the great work and the huge response from fans and festivals, where the film has won seven awards, including an Audience Choice Award, two Best Actor awards, Best Stunts, Best Action, and others. The positive and generous advance reviews are rewarding, too!

    Which film festivals do you suggest submitting to?

    The big ones are great if you can get into them, like AFM, Toronto, Tribeca, etc. But for smaller indie films, like mine, we went to where the fans were: Newark International Film Festival (which invited us for a panel discussion and to ne the closing film), Philadelphia Independent Film Festival (we shot most of the film in Philly), Freedom Festival International (we have a broad international cast of Italians, Chinese, Black, Caucasian), and others.

    I was dumbfounded when we weren’t accepted at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, since the film was shot in Philadelphia Chinatown, features so many known Asian actors from American film and television, in addition to two legends of Hong Kong cinema. But there you have it: even if you do your best, you have no control over how your work is received. Regardless, with small budgets it’s best to enter festivals that represent your film’s values and are in locations where your potential fans are for best impact.

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

    I live in suburban Philadelphia and love the city and wanted to film here. Even though the story is set in Manhattan’s facing neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little Italy, we could shoot 20 of 22 days in Philly, and one day in Collingswood, NJ. We only did two days of exteriors in NY, and most people can’t tell the difference. Philly is great for exterior and interior locations and is much less expensive than shooting in NY. Also, the shop owners are so gracious and accommodating of our needs and with their space.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?

    We shot in Chinatown, Head House Square, Old City, on Front Street in South Philly, at the Italian Market, and in Port Richmond. I also think Rittenhouse Square and Valley Green along the Wissahickon are terrific places to shoot. As are small towns like Chestnut Hill, Narberth, Doylestown, Peddler’s Village and New Hope.

    How did you get started in the film industry?

    I have been in publishing since 1990 and through working with a magazine in Los Angeles, I began making inroads into the film industry. In the mid-nineties I was invited onto television and movie sets and was asked to write a dozen or more spec scripts for both. After ten years of working, networking, pitching, and writing on spec for fairly large groups, I realized on day that nothing had come to fruition. I was spinning wheels while making a living as an editor and publisher. So I stopped that hamster wheel to nowhere, and kept writing and rewriting Made in Chinatown until it was the best I could make it and until I was able to bring it to the right people. Well, the Urban Action Showcase on Times Square was that place, and there I met so many great people, including its creator Demetrius Angelo and our co-director and local Philadelphian, Bobby Samuels. I produced several of Bobby’s film shorts that won many awards, and from there we created our production team for Made in Chinatown, bringing in talent from Philly, New York and Los Angeles (where our co-director and action coordinator, James Lew, resides.). James was one of my heroes coming up, from his first film Big Trouble in Little China though his Emmy award for “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” and we became friends in the 90s.

    What do you love the most about your job?

    Being a writer who also knows how to produce is an amazing experience. All you need is to make your first project, be it a short or feature or tv pilot. If you are good to people and genuine, the industry can open for you, as it has for me. I developed several very close relationships with some of the actors and producers on my films. I would never have thought I’d be calling and having them over or getting together with them on a regular basis. Getting to know the real people behind their acting personas and being able to collaborate on story ideas and new projects is a blessing. The creative part is what I enjoy most.

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

    First was getting a call from an unknown number in NY. I answered and the voice said, “Mark, the script is funny. The Chinese kid tries to get made!” I said, who is this? The voice said, “It’s me, Vinny, Big Pussy from Sopranos. I’m, doing your movie.” Another amazing moment was after most of the key roles were cast, and we did a local casting in Philly, Tony Darrow walks in and sits on the sofa. After each audition, I’d look back at him and he’d shake or nod his head. One of my heroes growing up was Lo Meng, a legend in Hong Kong cinema. As a teen I’d watch his kung-fu movies on Saturday afternoon with the bad dubbing and emulate his cool moves and my dream was to meet him one day. Well, we connected with him though our production team and he agreed to play “Hung Phat.” His first American film, and because I wrote the role of the Chinatown Triad boss with a crazy laugh, I wasn’t sure if he’d do it. But he asked me to read his lines in English and do the laugh, too, and send him the audio file. He practiced his lines while filming Ip Man 4. When we met at the airport, and we got in my car, he said with a straight face, “Mark, I have been practicing the laugh.” He then did six variations of the crazy laugh and asked which one I preferred. I was stunned, humbled, beside myself with joy and amazement!

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?

    I am in the pre-production stage of shooting a TV pilot here, and we have been looking to potentially shoot a teen camp movie in the Poconos. The problem is the lack of tax credits available for small budget projects. I was shattered and in trouble financially when we were all but guaranteed our credits on “Chinatown,” and they never came through. I fought hard for them for two years with the support and help of Dave Bowers (Film Incentives Group), Sharon Pinkenson (Greater Philadelphia Film Office), and State Representative Maria Donatucci. No luck. Maria then asked me to come testify about it before a panel, along with other PA filmmakers Night Shyamalan and Nancy Glass. We all did our best and made terrific arguments for the need for these Tax Incentives in PA. 

    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?

    PAFIA is doing a terrific job bringing awareness to this issue to the leaders of the state. The more projects that come into the state, the more locals are hired as cast and crew, and catering, and the more hotel rooms are filled, and parking spaces rented, and local shops frequented. These films can become iconic representations of the State, or its cities, and are a terrific way to promote tourism and the birth of a booming business. Let’s keep fighting!

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

    Work hard at your craft and take all the classes you can to improve it. With online courses and master classes from the experts, there is no shortage of training out there. Don’t listen to naysayers or ask opinions of people who don’t believe in your dream. If you are an actor, go to the local principal and background casting offices and let them know who you are and what your capabilities are; get into their databases. Do as many auditions as you can and take whatever first job comes (if it is not objectionable) to get a foot in the door. Once you do one project, you can network on set and expand your circle and get leads for other projects. Be sure to also help those that help you. It you want to write or produce or learn to direct, also take courses, network online and find an opportunity to get hired on a set. You can get in as a grip or driver and start connecting and networking your way to other roles and create side conversations with the director or producers during breaks. There is always a way. Sometimes, like for me, it took two decades for something to finally happen. But all the sudden my career pivoted, and I now have over a dozen projects on slate with a big production company in LA, several with my own company, and two international co-productions. There is always a way if you have stamina, persistence and show gratitude toward others.

    Be sure to always avoid situations that cause you anxiety or where you see red flags. Don’t ignore your gut or put yourself in compromising positions for a role or the “chance” of working on a film. And never sell yourself short. You are valuable and so are your talents, and when the right people see them, something will happen.

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

    I have read over a dozen books on writing screenplays and bios of actors and directors. I thought the negative things they mentioned were “one offs”, even though many said the same things: too many people lie, mislead, take advantage, make promises they know they can’t keep. This is all true, and I wish I had not been so afraid to replace those principals who I knew were not a right fit for a project, and instead ignored the issue. You need the best people around you, not just friends or associates you happen to know and who say, “trust me.” Always find the best casting director, best production team, best director and director of photography you can. If it is a comedy, hire a comedy director. If an action project, hire a good director and support them with a skilled DP who has shot action in the past. Don’t rely on friends for the essential post-production efforts but hire a professional company even if it means doing a little at a time. All of these are important lessons that cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of wasted time.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?

    My only aspiration is to keep creating the best projects I can, and either producing them myself or partnering with a company that may have more resources than I, but also sees the same vision (or an improved one) for the project. Most of all I want to keep growing and developing as a filmmaker and creating relationships with those I work with. Sharing in creativity with others makes life amazing.

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

    As we have casting and crew calls, we will post them on the local boards. We like to use Heery Loftus Casting for our local background casting, and Caroline Sinclair Casting for principal. People can follow Tambuli Media (.com) and our Facebook page, which promotes our publishing and film work. And people can reach me thought FB Messenger or at TambuliMedia@gmail.com.

    And don’t forget, Made in Chinatown will be available to stream on May 11. We have a Facebook and Instagram with updates and clips and fun stuff… and the website is www.MadeInChinatownMovie.com

  • Tuesday, April 27, 2021 12:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    I wrote several film screenplays which I flipped into fiction novels and they are now available on Amazon Kindle. Tell everybody! (Check out a quick video here.)




    And here’s my Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Bertoni/e/B092C6MBCQ?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

    Here’s my Instagram for my books: https://www.instagram.com/steph_bertoni/
    (I just started my Instagram for my books and I’ll be adding more content shortly. I already have a fun promo video on there for my Christmas comedy book.)

    I do have a Facebook as well: https://www.facebook.com/xoStephB

    I observe and talk with other professionals. I keep at it, but I also take breaks which gives me a fresh perspective. 

    How did you get started in the film industry?

    My first jobs in the entertainment field were as a newspaper reporter, radio disc jockey, radio news producer, and then I went into television news. I did a side project as a script supervisor for an indie film and just kept going. In addition to script supervising, I’ve also worked in several other film production positions including actress, stand-in, casting, production coordinator, production accounting, production secretary, wardrobe supervisor, wardrobe stylist, set dresser, craft services, and also production assistant.

    Why do you choose to work in PA?
    I’ve enjoyed working on sets out of town but it’s good working with my local film family. It can take a few days to gel when a crew is full of strangers in a strange place. You can have a “shorthand” way of speaking with folks you know, which gets you there faster. People who know and care for each other are much more likely to go the distance for one another.

    What do you love the most about your job?
    I love that I am still creating as an adult. As a kid, I was always painting, writing, acting, and being asked by friends to tell funny stories. Not much has changed. ;)

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on-set story?
    I’ve been fortunate to work with people who provided some comedy relief for me on set: Dean Cundy, Michael Nyquist, Seymour Cassel, Breck Eisner, and a few others. It makes the often tough working conditions bearable.

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I’m currently in talks about a project.

    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?
    It’s a big deal for film production workers to be able to sleep in their own beds every night. Those outside the film industry may take that for granted if they have a local, nine-to-five job. Crews working in their hometown can spend more time with their loved ones and have stronger relationships. They may have more time to meet the right person and have a family. It’s important to have the choice to work in your hometown, or travel because you want to; not because you have to. The Film tax credit enables film production professionals more options to live happier, productive lives. All of that productivity funnels into more revenue for the state and the city. The film tax credit is so much more than money. It’s a better way of working, making art, and living.

  • Friday, April 09, 2021 4:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written By: Beth Brennan, Lobbyist, Cozen O'Connor

    Happy Spring to our friends in film. Better weather is on the horizon, great for shooting outdoor scenes.

    Also, additional Covid-relief efforts are underway in Harrisburg. Twice this month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the loosening of various pandemic related restrictions. On March 15, the Governor announced the easing of some of his COVID-19 mitigation policies on businesses, effective April 4. For restaurants, the indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75 percent. Capacity for other businesses, including gyms and entertainment facilities, such as theaters and casinos, will be increased to 75 percent occupancy. Back on March 1, the Governor and the state Health Department rescinded a November order that required anyone over the age of 11 who visits from another state to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or place themselves in a travel quarantine for 14 days upon entering Pennsylvania.

    The state Senate Appropriations Committee began its hearings for the 2021-22 budget, meanwhile, the House concluded their hearings in mid-March. Republican House and Senate members continued to express concern about the Governor’s proposals to raise the personal income tax, increase the minimum wage, and impose a severance tax on natural gas, among other contentious issues.

    With the announcement of two additional legislative vacancies this month, May 18th – PA’s primary election day – will now be the date of four state legislative special elections. One March 5th, state Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna, resigned from his 22nd Senatorial District seat to accept a new job with Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright. On March 16th, state Rep. Jeff Pyle R-Armstrong, resigned immediately due to health issues. Special elections already set for May 18th were the 48th Senatorial District seat which was vacant due to the January death of Sen. Dave Arnold, R-Lebanon and the 59th House District which was vacant due to the January death of Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland.

    On March 10, Senator Camera Bartolotta, R-Greene, introduced SB 321. Co-sponsored by Senators Collett, Scavello, Robinson, Costa, Yudichak and Stefano, the bill increases the film tax credit limit from $70 million to $125 million. It also renames the Film Production Tax Credit as the Film Industry Incentive. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

    On March 12, Representatives Kathleen Tomlinson, R-Bucks, and Joe Ceresi, D-Montgomery, circulated a co-sponsorship memo announcing their intent to introduce that would re-brand the Film Production Tax Credit as the Film Industry Incentive and increase funding for the program from its current level of $70 million to $125 million. We anticipate their bill language to be identical to Senator Bartolotta’s SB 321 referenced above.

    As we move closer to the June 30th budget deadline, we expect busier days ahead in Harrisburg. PAFIA will be watching and advocating for the industry. Now get outside and enjoy the sun and warmer weather.

    And quiet on the set……….Action!

  • Wednesday, March 03, 2021 10:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    PAFIA Lobbyist Update for March 2021

    On February 3, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf delivered his 2021-2022 state budget address virtually. The $37.8 billion proposal contains a sizeable increase in the state’s personal income tax (PIT) and a substantial increase in education spending. This year’s general fund budget is $33.1 billion. The Governor’s proposal is an increase of $3.78 billion, or 11.1% over the prior year. The Governor is proposing to raise the PIT from 3.07% to 4.49% starting July 1, the first increase since 2003. The increase would raise more than $3 billion annually, a 20 percent increase when compared to 2019 tax data. $1.3 billion raised from a higher income tax would go to basic education funding, boosting that total to about $8.1 billion. Special education would be increased by $200 million to a total of $1.4 billion. The new revenue will also be used to address the multi-billion dollar deficit in the state budget. The Governor’s proposal would result in a tax hike for 60 percent of Pennsylvania taxpayers. Residents with incomes at or below $15,000 for single filers; $30,000 for married filers; and $10,000 allowance for each dependent – will receive total 100% personal income tax forgiveness.

    In addition, the Governor is proposing to reduce the 9.99% corporate net income tax to 9.49 percent on January 1, 2022, then continue to reduce the tax incrementally to 6.49 percent by 2026. The governor is also proposing to shift to combined reporting to tax corporations as a single entity. Like several previous budgets, the governor is again calling for a severance tax on natural gas drillers. Currently, Pennsylvania imposes an impact fee that is assessed on each drill site. According to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, the 2020 impact fees equaled an effective tax rate of 3.3%.

    The Commonwealth continues to deal with the COVID-19 challenges with vaccine rollout and case count statewide holding steady. On February 9th, Governor Wolf announced the creation of a joint task force aimed at improving the state’s vaccine rollout, including Republican and Democratic members of the General Assembly. Senators Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) and Representatives Tim O’Neal (R-Washington) and Bridget Kosierowski (D-Lackawanna). The task force will share vaccine information and communicate solutions on behalf of and to the broader General Assembly. Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout has been the focus of multiple hearings last week in the state legislature. Through February 22, vaccine providers have administered 2,034,123 doses of vaccine. 1,474,479 million Pennsylvians have received their first does and 559,644 people have received both doses and are now fully vaccinated.

    Budget hearings in Harrisburg have started. The state House Appropriations Committee held the first of several hearings to discuss Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal. Of note: (1) The Department of Revenue was questioned about the Governor’s proposal to increase the state personal income tax. (2) The Department of Environmental Protection was questioned about the Governor’s proposal to join the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (3) The Department of Community and Economic Development answered questions regarding the business shuts downs last year due to the Covid pandemic and the mitigation measures still in place today. The full schedule of House hearings can be found here. The state Senate Appropriations Committee will begin its budget hearings on Monday, March 8th. The full schedule of Senate hearings can be found here.

    Film Caucus Update

    There are currently 24 members of the Film Caucus.  Additional outreach to encourage more members of the House and Senate to sign up is currently taking place. Senators Camera Bartolotta and Jay Costa and Representatives Kathleen Tomlinson and Joe Ceresi are leading the caucus this session.

    A listing of the current membership is below:

    Representatives: Daley, Tina Davis, Howard, Longietti, Malagari, Matzie, Merski, Mizgorski, Mullins, Pisciottano, Sanchez, Silvis, Sturla and Webster.

    Senators: Collett, Fontana, Kane, Santarsiero, Stefano, and Lindsey Williams.

  • Monday, February 01, 2021 4:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Article Written By: Maria Shamkalian, PAFIA Vice-Chair 

    We are excited to feature "Last Call" filmed last year in Pennsylvania. Written by Greg Lingo and Paolo Pilladi, and directed by Paolo Pilladi, the comedy is starring Jeremy Piven, Bruce Dern, Cathy Moriarty, Jack McGee, Zach McGowan, Taryn Manning, Cheri Oteri and Jamie Kennedy. Producers were fortunate to obtain a phenomenal cast and crew who really understood this gritty town of “Darby Heights” located in the outskirts of Philadelphia and fortuitous that their last day of shooting was completed in Mid-March 2020, right before COVID-19 closures were enacted. Writer Greg Lingo kindly agreed to share with us about his experience filming in PA.

    How did you come up with the idea and how did you get it going? My childhood friends (Mike Baughan and Billy Reilly) and I sat down and thought it would be fun to assemble a collection of all the colorful stories and people we came across as kids and try and work those into a screenplay.  We spent a good deal of time bringing the stories to life, but it was not until I met Paolo Pilladi (our Director) that we were able to complete the script and get into preproduction.

    What were some challenges that you have encountered? It would be a copout to say COVID-19, because COVID-19 has impacted so many lives in so many different and difficult ways.  We were most challenged with staying on budget, and then keeping the overages to a manageable amount.

    The burning question: how did you arrange the budget? The production team created a line by line budget prior to getting into preproduction.  As the level of talent we assembled increased, the budget began to swell and we ended up bringing on additional investors.

    What are the plans for distribution? For North America, IFC Films will be distributing the film.  It will have a day and date release of 3/19/2021 where it will be in select theaters in the Philadelphia, LA, NY and Chicago markets and at the same time will be released on the following platforms:

    Digital Platforms: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, YouTube, Google Play, PlayStation and Xbox

    Cable Transactional Platforms: Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner, Brighthouse), Verizon Fios, Altice (Optimum), Cox, DirecTV, AT&T, Bend Broadband, Buckeye, Guadalupe Valley, Hotwire Communications, Metrocast, Suddenlink, WOW Internet Cable, RCN, Midcontinent Communications

    We have Filmmode Entertainment selling the Foreign Rights

    Which film festivals do you suggest submitting to?  We submitted to SXSW and TriBeCa, however the film will be released before the dates of those festivals.

    Why did you choose to film in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania? We shot in both NJ and PA because this is a regionally based film is set in the PA suburbs of Philadelphia and at the Jersey Shore.  I have called Pennsylvania home nearly my entire life and would not have set it in any other place.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania? We had a spectacular few days shooting at the Filter Club in Center City, Philadelphia.  What a remarkable setting and backdrop for so many great scenes.

    How did you all get started in the film industry? This is my first foray into film, but will not be my last.  For me, I was always curious about the industry but did not want to jump in until the script was in the right place.  Once we started getting great feedback from talent pertaining to our script I knew we could make a fun loving, slice of life comedy that would translate well to folks in all corners of our nation

    What do you love the most about your job? No two days are ever the same

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story? It would have to be when the van we had hoped to rent caught on fire (no injuries!).  We were looking for a van for our main actors to drive around in the film. When we started negotiating for the rental of it for the week the owner told us what great condition it was in.  So, when he brought it over to show it to us, it started overheating, burst into flames and the fire co. was called.

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects? I am currently writing my next comedy script, hopefully by the time it is ready to go the PA Tax Credits will be there so that we can make it in Commonwealth.

    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? In order for films to be made in PA, there must be PA predictable tax credits.  Filmmakers can jump right across the bridge into NJ and get 25-30% tax credits with a fair amount of certainty that they will be funded.  Portraying our state on film is the best way to get recognition for our great towns, cities and PA countryside which will in turn increase tourism and generate revenues for the state.

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid? The most important thing is to know and understand is the budget; you have to understand each of the variables and how they can best be navigated to stay on budget.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier? Had I known the amount of work it took to get through post production, I would have hired a post production supervisor.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry? I look forward to bringing comedy back to the big screen.  It seems like the genre has been displaced by action, thrillers and dramas.  With all the craziness in the world, I just want people to laugh.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects? I do not have my next project slated yet, but I would encourage them to check out my company website periodically, www.CornellVentures.com
  • Monday, February 01, 2021 10:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The 2021-22 legislative session is officially underway in Harrisburg. Legislative committees have been assigned, bills are being introduced, and floor votes are being taken.

    Legislative Update

    The state Senate voted on COVID-relief legislation (SB 109) to provide $912 million in housing, rental, education and business assistance to Pennsylvanians impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the federal funding – $570 million will go to rental and utility assistance. Money will be allocated proportionally to all 67 counties. In addition, some $200 million will go toward education, with $150.023 million in funding for non-public schools and $47.075 million for Pennsylvania’s discretionary allocation which includes $17.5 million for career and technical centers and $17.5 million dedicated to intermediate units. The measure also creates a Hospitality Industry Recovery Program for grants to hotels, restaurants, and bars. Certified local economic development agencies will be responsible for administering the program.

    The state Senate also passed a constitutional amendment to limit gubernatorial disaster emergency powersSenate Bill 2 states that emergency disaster declarations by the governor would last no more than 21 days. In addition, the declaration can be extended by the governor for additional 21-day periods, but only with the approval by the General Assembly of a concurrent resolution to do so.

    If approved by the House, the proposal would go to Pennsylvania voters in the form of a ballot referendum question during the state’s May primary.

    Legislation (HB 38) that would establish appellate court voting districts within the Pennsylvania Constitution, may be considered by the state House in early February. The measure would divide the state into nine Commonwealth Court districts, fifteen Superior Court districts, and seven Supreme Court districts, with candidates for those judgeships required to reside in the district they seek to represent on the court. Districts would be drawn with compact and contiguous geographic boundaries, and comporting with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The same language was already approved by the General Assembly last session. A constitutional amendment must be approved by lawmakers during two consecutive two-year legislative sessions before it can be put to the voters as a ballot question.

    Budget Update

    In anticipation of his February 2nd budget address to the Legislature, Governor Wolf outlined his legislative priorities for the session. While highlighting past bipartisan successes on criminal justice reform, medical marijuana, and mail-in ballots, Wolf said he wanted to begin negotiating anew with the Republican-controlled General Assembly to lower barriers for Pennsylvanians in need of assistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed his desire to increase the state’s minimum wage, pass a severance tax, and the authorize adult-use recreational marijuana. In response to the Governor’s press conference, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward released statements expressing frustration that the Governor was not focusing getting Pennsylvanians vaccinated.

    State Senator Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) has delayed budget hearings this winter. The Senate is now scheduled to be in session Feb. 22, 23 and 24, dates that in previous years were used for budget hearings. A revised budget hearing scheduled will be released within the next two weeks.

    House Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) said he will conduct hearings as originally planned the weeks of Feb. 16th, 22nd, and March 1st. A detailed schedule will be released shortly.

    Film Update

    On January 21, the four chairs of the film caucus circulated a memo inviting members of the 2021-22 legislative session to join. Senators Camera Bartolotta and Jay Costa and Representatives Kathleen Tomlinson and Joe Ciresi will lead the caucus this session.

    The intent of the Legislative Film Caucus is to:

    • Support research and analysis of the role that Pennsylvania’s film industry plays in economic development, job creation and revenue enhancement.
    • Promote avenues of growth for this industry in Pennsylvania, ultimately leading to better economic outcomes for the state, local governments and the industry as a whole.
    • Seek to optimize Pennsylvania’s incentive structure to promote growth in production, wages and downstream activity.

    We will share the names of the caucus members in a later legislative update once members have more time to join the caucus.

    On January 27, Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) introduced SB 133. The bill uncaps the film tax credit to further incentivize the TV and film industry to relocate in Pennsylvania. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Co-sponsors of SB 133 include Senators Sharif Street, Maria Collett, Vincent Hughes, Steve Santersiero, Mario Scavello, Camera Bartolotta, Tim Kearney, Amanda Cappelletti and Jay Costa.

  • Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy September,  I hope that this update finds you with memories of a healthy and enjoyable summer. A summer that was certainly unlike no other, attempting to make lemonade from the daily bag of lemons that COVID was delivering to us all. As of the beginning of September, more than 133,000 Pennsylvanians have been infected with COVID-19, with unfortunately more than 7,000 passing away. Businesses, school districts, state & local governments, and everyone in between are trying to deal with this new reality, along with anticipating what might come when flu season arrives in November and December. The country has people that have directly experienced COVID and are petrified of getting sick, and others feel this is just another illness that mostly affects those who are in poor health.

    On August 31, Governor Tom Wolf renewed the state’s disaster declaration for the Covid-19 pandemic for another 90 days on Monday. “As we approach the six-month mark of this crisis, I continue to be amazed at the resiliency and strength shown by Pennsylvanians during this pandemic,” Wolf said in a statement. “We are going to continue to combat the health and economic effects of COVID-19, and the renewal of my disaster declaration will provide us with resources and support needed for this effort.” The declaration also comes at a time when the Pennsylvania House returns to voting session with a renewed effort to try to stop the Governor’s emergency powers by overriding Wolf’s veto of a previous bill that would allow the Legislature to force the governor end the disaster declaration. PennLive has more.

    In a press release recently issued by Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell, Pennsylvania collected $2.5 billion in General Fund revenue in August, which was 8.9% more than expected. The Department of Revenue estimated the majority of revenue collected in August can be attributed to extending the due date to August 14 for corporations that had annual corporate net income tax payments due in April, May, June or July. Penn Live has more.

    Expectations are the state budget deficit will be approximately $5 billion and many state lawmakers are hoping that federal funds will be made available to plug some or all of that gap. Depending on what financial relief comes from Washington,  that will determine how much in additional revenue will need to be generated or identified. Some options for new revenue being proposed includes adult use marijuana, and the Governor has recently called on legislators to legalize as a way to boost the economic recovery.

    In other news, and in response to Covid-19, PennDOT is extending expiration dates for certain products including commercial driver licenses, learner’s permits and Hazardous Materials Endorsements. The extension for non-commercial driver licenses, photo identification cards, and camera cards ended Monday. Triblive.com has more. Governor Wolf today also recently announced his support for mandating a paid sick leave program for all PA workers, saying it can help workers avoid coming in sick and spreading diseases as well as reduce costs associated with employee turnover and absence. Democratic lawmakers acknowledged the difficulty they will face passing the legislation in the Republican-majority legislature. For more please see the Governor’s press release
  • Tuesday, August 04, 2020 10:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Article By:
    PAFIA Vice-Chair Maria Shamkalian

    How did you get involved with this project?
    I became involved with “Pope” through a former agent who remembered me and connected me with the show’s director. We immediately shared creative values and had an wonderfully common vision for what the show could be and how to realize it.

    What did you love most about filming this project?
    Easily my favorite part of filming “Pope” was our Pennsylvania crew. It may sound like a canned answer given where this article is running, but it’s the absolute truth. From the extremely talented department heads, to the supportive producers, to the rank and file crew, every single person brought not only their “A” game but, more importantly and most satisfyingly, their “A” attitude. I really didn’t want the show to wrap and I’d love to come back and work with each of them again!

    What were some challenges that you have encountered?
    The biggest challenge for this production was finding locations that allowed us to have Pennsylvania, where we shot our recreations, to stand in for such diverse historical locations as ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Tudor England, WW2 Germany and the Vatican! At the end of the day, I feel our Pennsylvania locations more than fit the final bill.

    Were there any difficult artistic decisions that you had to make?
    I never felt we had to make any serious artistic compromises on this production due to the incredible support of our Executive Producers, Jon Hirsch and Nancy Glass at Glass Entertainment Group. They saw to it that we were well covered and that our department heads had what they needed to create a really convincing historical show.

    What were some of the most memorable Behind the Scenes stories?
    We often weren’t allowed to have actual fire in our locations and some of the work arounds Jon Chaifetz, Beau Kegler and their fantastic art team gave us to shoot made me very uncertain at first, but ultimately they worked a charm in the final shots. Sometimes though, we did have real fire. Having Camera Operator Tom Greco being lead backwards leading an escaping “Pope” brandishing a flaming torch in the tunnels beneath Girard College was exciting and convincing.

    Creating a convincing Nazi Germany, complete with period-accurate Hitler posters on the campus of Bryn Mawr was totally surreal. I kept wondering what the students would think it whey wandered onto our set!

    Why did you choose to film in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    Our production company, Glass Entertainment Group, is based in Pennsylvania and has strong roots there. So it was pretty much a given that we would film there. And in retrospect it’s very hard for me to imagine us having shot this show anywhere else given the plethora of perfect locations and incredible local crew we had access to.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    I really loved shooting at Girard college, Bryn Mawr, Glencairn and on the Elkins Estate. Honestly, there were so many other great locations as well. I didn’t feel any of them were a compromise. But I was presently amazed that we found virtually everything we needed within easy driving distance from Philadelphia.

    How did you get started in the film industry?
    I knew from way back, like from 7 years old, that I wanted to be a cinematographer. From those early Super 8 films in my parent’s garage. However, it took a decade long detour through advertising to finally find me happily behind the camera. That was more than 20 years ago and I’ve never looked back!

    What do you love the most about your job?
    You have to love filmmaking to be a film maker. But if you do love it, there’s really nothing else you want to do. I do love the process and the tools, but most of all I love the people I get to meet and work so closely with.

    What is your personal most awkward or funniest on set story?
    The Art department gave me a prop Native American headdress that I took to wearing behind the camera. For me it was very funny but might have looked super odd to anyone not in on the joke. I’m just glad there are pictures!

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I don’t currently have any Pennsylvania-based productions on the books, but I’m hoping that will change! I can’t wait to come back to shot there.

    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?
    The tax credit had a large effect on our ultimate decision to stay and shoot in Pennsylvania. That in turn brought not only a lot of work to our immediate crew members but substantial work and monies to many more outlaying people and businesses that we either came into contact with or contracted through to provide services to our show.

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    I think anyone starting out in this business should try on as may pairs of boots as possible. Spend some time working in as many departments as possible. Then you’ll know from experience what you love doing the most and will have a much better understanding of what each person and department needs to accomplish their job. It will make you a much better and well-rounded film maker.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    I wish I had understood much earlier the necessity to network. People hire who they know and are comfortable with. If they know you as a person rather than as a reel, resume or website, they are far more likely to hire you.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    I’m ready to take the next leap in my career path and DP much larger shows. At the same time I want to continue to teach and help mentor the next generation of those who also love our method of storytelling.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    This one doesn’t really pertain to me as I don’t initiate projects.

  • Monday, July 20, 2020 12:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Valued PAFIA Members,

    I hope you are practicing social distancing and staying safe. Together, we face a truly unprecedented situation. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our families, businesses, and our way of life. In these challenging times, I want to take a moment to update you on where PAFIA currently stands.

    The film industry, much like the rest of the rest of the world, has been greatly affected by COVID-19. All movie and television productions in North America are at a standstill, with an unknown return date. Many studios are working on return to work guidelines to accommodate our new normal. The positive note is that some countries are currently and successfully shooting again, and my hope is that we will join them soon.

    According to our lobbyist, Jim Davis, the film tax credit for the state of Pennsylvania is still expecting to stay funded at the same capacity, $70 million. For 10+ years, PAFIA has been fighting for the tax credit in Pennsylvania, and with your help we hope to be around for many more years! PAFIA has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help sustain us for the future. Any donation, no matter how small, will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000.

    Support PAFIA

    I want to thank all of the sponsors and individual members that have renewed during this time of uncertainty. It is important for us to stay funded to use our lobbyist and Kassalen Meetings & Events (PAFIA’s Management Company) to move our agenda forward. 

    Please check out the information below for new and exciting FREE opportunities we are offering to our PAFIA community.

    Thank you and stay safe,

    David Haddad
    PAFIA Chair

    Virtual Events: We are working hard to provide virtual content to our members and PAFIA is pleased to announce our first Virtual Q&A with Producer, Assistant Director, and PAFIA Board Member, John Rusk! Join us for this FREE Q&A Webinar Tuesday, July 28, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

    Register Today!

    Learn from the Pro: Virtual Q&A with John Rusk
    Do you want to know how to make it in the film industry? John Rusk, whose credits include "Dead Poets Society," "Avalon," "A League of Their Own," "The Pelican Brief," "Outbreak," "Twelve Monkeys," and "The Sixth Sense", just to name a few, will answer your questions at this PAFIA FREE webinar! Join our Q&A on July 28 at 6:30 pm. The session will be moderated by PAFIA Vice-Chair, Maria Shamkalian.

  • Thursday, July 02, 2020 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Article By: Amelia Addor
    PAFIA Writer

    Ross Gabrielli, VP of Sales and Marketing of Gala Catering who had worked in the food industry ever since he could remember when his father, Fred Gabrielli, started the business back in the 1980s. Gala Catering started as a family company that went from serving meals from a single trailer in Houston, Texas. That slowly but surely grew from Fred’s and his crew’s dedication and hard work.

    A prominent and valued PAFIA supporter, Gabrielli’s family business can be traced back to his father and mother starting small and working their way into prominence. Now, Gala Catering works on up to ten projects at a time utilizing a kitchen truck, a refrigeration truck, and a dry storage truck.

    Some highlights of Ross’ career so far include being a private chef for Adam Sandler, serving nearly 2,000 people at once at the Los Angeles Forum, and being a fantastic father to his 6-year-old son, Renner. Check out Gala Catering @galacrew and @galacatering on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and IMDb. 

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Building and maintaining relationships is key in this industry. That alone will help get more work in the future. Keeping the entire crew happy and full is one to the best ways for us to get next gig. People take recognition of good food, and if they admire your professional performance/work ethic enough, you will most likely get another job with the clientele on an upcoming project.

    Also, take a look through your local production report: this is a good resource for finding listed email addresses to the production offices. Contact them and let them know you are available, attach a link of your resume, and see what happens. 

    Who have you met while working that has influenced you the most?
    My father, Fred Gabrielli, has influenced me most with his hard work, dedication, and passion to starting a small business and turning it into what it has become today. My mother as well. She was one of the strongest influences in my life and an amazing woman. 

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest work moment?
    When I was 5 years old, on Pee Wee’s Big Top. I loved Pee Wee as a kid, so my dad let me carry his food tray to him in his trailer. Well, I was so anxious to see the character I watched on TV every day that I spilt his food all over his shirt when I was trying to serve him!

    Where do you see your company going in the next five years?
    There are a few things behind the scenes, and in the works, that will propel Gala Catering to another level as time goes on. For now, I will say we’re steadily improving at every phase of the daily catering grind as the company has been doing for the last 35 years. The history just shows hard work and dedication pays off. Our team will make sure that persists into the future. 

    What is Gala Catering’s connection to Pennsylvania?
    Gala Catering has several connections to Pennsylvania. We have done many projects in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas (including Denzel Washington’s “Fences” Tom Hank’s “Mr. Rodgers”, “Manhunt, “Desperate Measures” and more.)

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were working on an untitled HBO project in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania is an important part to the film industry and Gala Catering is proud to be a part of that. We look forward to growing with the Pennsylvania projects. It’s a beautiful place with great incentives. Who wouldn’t want to work there? 

    Do you have any valuable lessons that you learned about your business’s industry?
    There are too many to list, but I will mention that one of our most valuable assets to Gala Catering is Chef Donna Cushing. She has instilled many valuable lessons on me. She continues to do so today to all our employees and crew members. She is a key component that keeps our business’s wheels turning and the entire system constantly improving and moving forward. 

    What is your favorite project that your business worked on?
    The Longest Yard and Grandma’s Boy: Really, any Happy Madison film. Happy Madison is like family to Gala Catering.

    What is it like to serve food at the Super Bowl Pepsi Halftime Show?
    Working the Super Bowl is extremely unique for several reasons. It’s amazing to watch the “party” grow day by day. Since we arrive almost 2 weeks before the Super Bowl commences, we get to see the big game (and all the craziness that surrounds it) begin from infancy and slowly transform into the largest show in the country. It’s very different from film! Each person working the halftime show must execute their role with no flaws while only having one (proverbial) “take” to entertain the entire nation.

    Why do you consider your most recent success an accomplishment milestone? 
    We have been serving TD ENT (the company who develops and displays the Halftime show) for 10 years now. They are the people behind the scenes that work diligently to make the magic of the halftime happen every year. Also, getting to see the rehearsal show before the rest of the country, standing on the field is one of the most electrifying feelings in the world. We are truly blessed to get to experience that again and again. We will be in Miami for the next Super Bowl!

    If you could improve the food service industry in one way, what would it be and why would you change it?
    I would incorporate more nutritional awareness and help people become more self-knowledgeable about what they put in their bodies. I am a big advocate for making healthy eating decisions even when other more tempting options are available.

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

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