It’s budget season again in Harrisburg. It’s like Groundhog Day. Please, refrain from getting so excited.
Earlier this month the House has passed its version (HB218) of the 2017-2018 budget and sent it to the Senate. This year, the budget is approximately $32 billion, with the two major areas of PreK-12 education ($12 billion) and health and human services ($13 billion).
Currently, the three largest taxes that contribute to the funding of that $32 billion budget come from personal income taxes ($13 billion), sales and use taxes ($11 billion) and corporate taxes ($3 billion) for a total of $27 billion. The remaining revenues come from a host of smaller taxes and fees. Now if the legislators propose spending more money than the expected revenues will cover, they’ll have to start talking about raising existing taxes, creating new taxes, issuing bonds (which adds to the public debt), or one time revenue gimmicks like the Farm Show Complex lease-lease back proposal that is under consideration. Additionally, proposals to authorize internet gaming and further privatization of the state’s liquor system will generate new revenues.
In the months ahead, legislators and the governor will argue about how to balance expected revenues with expenses. The problem is always that there is never enough money to cover all the proposed spending and sometimes even the expected revenues will fall short of expectations. House and Senate Republicans strongly oppose higher taxes, and the Governor has conceded that he won’t pursue them. They want to get re-elected and raising taxes doesn’t look good on the resume. Additional revenue “enhancements” being discussed are closing the Delaware Loophole, which currently allows corporations to avoid net income taxes by incorporating in Delaware, and the shale gas extraction tax. Both options are unlikely to be enacted for various reasons.
The option of cutting spending on existing programs is difficult as well. The state spends millions on health care services, community/economic development, transportation infrastructure, corrections, education and law enforcement to name a few of the hundreds of ways tax dollars are spent. Those proposed “cuts” could also be to some of the state’s tax credits, including the Film Tax Credit. However, while some credits may prove to be worth reviewing closely, I feel confident the film tax credit will remain at its current level.
As the House and Senate continue to deliberate the budget for May, June and possibly beyond… PaFIA will remain vigilant and actively engaged.
On April 7, Temple University's Fox School of Business hosted a screening for Dream Girl, a film about five female entrepreneurs who got the courage to launch their own start-ups and fought to change the way women are viewed in different industries. The screening was followed by the inspiring success stories of the five panelists: Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office; Dani Davis, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Girl Starter Media Company; LeAnn Erickson, Temple University Film and Video Production Professor; Neha Raman, CEO and Co-Founder of Rungh and part of cast in new TV show Girl Starter; and Diane Heery, CSA Casting Director and PaFIA Board Member.
Admission was free in addition to complimentary popcorn and beverages. Besides watching a powerful film and listening to the encouraging words of the speakers, attendees also benefited from the networking opportunities that followed the presentations. A PaFIA table was setup at the event to expose the participants to even more possibilities in the film industry.
The event was organized by Candace Kilstein, the former Executive Director of PaFIA, who expressed her continuous support for the organization. "The Women's Entrepreneurship Organization at Temple University's Fox School of Business really supports women, and we really support women in film, and we support PaFIA, and we'd love to help PaFIA in any way that we can."
Rebecca Markuson has always had an interest in movies, performing, cameras and storytelling. So, when she was looking for a college, Point Park University was a natural choice because of its strong film program. Her professors helped connect her with summer work with local filmmakers. “After that, my resume was just strong enough to secure the next job,” says Markuson. It just grew from there.
Markuson points out that working in the industry is a different path for everyone. “I’ve kept myself open to opportunity and always do what I can to support my fellow crew members.”
She also believes that working together through PaFIA to support the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit is important. Markuson emphasizes that the tax credit has made an impact on her own ability to work. “I have been working in the industry since 2012. At that time, the tax credit was in full swing. I went from project to project before the credit ran out,” says Markuson, who explains that she had to find temporary work until another project came to town. Today, she works in the industry as a Construction Buyer with “Mindhunter” Season 1.
Quick! Name the movie character and the movie: “I’ve been in prison a long long time. I'm the man who can get people things in here, but this new guy named Andy is peculiar. I like him. He helped us get work outside. And let me say May is one damn fine month to be working outdoors.”
If you said ‘Red Redding in the Shawshank Redemption,’ you would have won a prize at Sunday’s PaFIA event held at the Goldmark in Pittsburgh.
On Sunday PaFIA held a Quizzo event, inviting everyone to come out and test their film knowledge. Several sponsors donated gift bags and prizes including hand made jewelry, hats, t-shirts, gift cards and even a popcorn maker!
Jason Loftus, CSA started in the business as an actor and then got work reading for auditions. Fifteen years ago, he moved to casting. Today, he is the Casting Director and Partner of Heery-Loftus Casting of Philadelphia, PA. The Heery-Loftus resume boasts of notable projects in film and television like, Untouchable, CREED, Silver Linings Playbook, and others. The firm was the 2013 ARTIOS winner for casting for Silver Linings Playbook, the 2016 ARTIOS nominee for pilot casting for How to Get Away with Murder and the 2013 Primetime EMMY nominee for casting of a mini-series for Political Animals.
Loftus got involved with PaFIA to help preserve and lobby for the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit. He knows firsthand that the tax credit is a big selling point for whether or not a film comes to Pennsylvania. “The tax credit is part of the revenue stream for a film project,” he explains. “The reality in the industry is that studios and independent film companies are looking for incentives. The film tax credit is imperative; or we won’t get the business in PA.
“The tax credit goes hand and hand with what we do,” adds Loftus, who encourages crew members and actors to get involved to help support the work of the association. “It is essential to maintain and grow the tax credit in Pennsylvania, otherwise there is no work here.”
On March 12, PaFIA hosted an immensely informative and insightful event for local screenwriters, where they could learn the secrets of breaking into the industry. Jamal Hill, Jennifer McDevitt and Joe Gangemi, three successful and established local screenwriters, described in detail the process, craft and nature of the field.
Joe Gangemi is the screenwriter of the movies WIND CHILL, starring Emily Blunt, STONEHEARST ASYLUM, starring Michael Caine, Kate Beckinsale and Ben Kingsley, BLACKWAY, starring Anthony Hopkins, and RED OAKS, starring Paul Reiser, Jennifer Gray and Richard Kind. Jamal Hill started out in the industry by working on such films as I AM LEGEND, HANCOCK and IRON MAN, which later lead him on to directing Lady Gaga’s THE FAME. He also directed STREETS starring hip hop star Meek Mill and landed a deal with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment to direct a slate of films, including BROTHERLY LOVE. Jennifer Yee McDevitt has films in development at 20th Century Fox. She worked at Warner Bros Studios, spent two seasons with NFL Films and directed 10 MOUNTAINS 10 YEARS narrated by Anne Hathaway with music by Bruce Springsteen. She is represented by CAA and Rise Management.
David Raynor, member of Producer’s Guild of America and one of PaFIA’s board members, moderated the event, asking the panelists the most burning questions of the local screenwriters’ community. Aspiring writers were moved and inspired by the panelists’ stories and words of guidance. The speakers did not speak about an overnight success, but rather gave realistic advice on the right steps to make, books to read and ways to promote yourself in order to become a full-time screenwriter.
PaFIA is truly grateful to Greater Philadelphia Film Office for help with event promotion; to Sofitel Philadelphia for hosting this event and providing a wonderful wine and food set up; and to the amazing sponsors: Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Tague Lumber, Colomy Paint & Decorating, Herc Rentals and Staybridge Suites Wilmington-Brandywine Valley. Also, a special shout out to Chris Kellett and Sync Speed for the awesome audio set up and a big welcome to our ten new and two renewing members!
Saturday, March 4, saw the inaugural event hosted by Expressway Grip and presented by esteemed Producer, Production Manager and film industry veteran, Wendy Cox. Over 100 engaged and enthusiastic attendees filled the room for the crash course in industry standards, personnel, protocols and processes. The event covered a range of departments in different mediums including feature films, television, commercial and reality productions.
Wendy Cox organized and moderated the event with Expressway's James Madison as a way to give back and strengthen the local filmmaking community. Key contributors and presenters at the event included film industry heavy weights David Raynor (Production Coordinator) and John Rusk (1stt AD). Reality Producer Veronica Stickelman switched it up with an in-depth look behind-the-scenes of unscripted reality and documentary production.
The event, which was sponsored by PAFIA and PWIFT and supported by the Philadelphia Film Office, was an enlightening and educational program that provided a unique open-forum environment for long-standing industry professionals and future filmmakers to network and reinforce the revitalization of Philadelphia’s filmmaking industry.
Thank you to everyone who attended and to our sponsors.
We eagerly await the next Production Bootcamp!
PaFIA East recently had a fantastic event at Revel & Roost Pittsburgh. The turnout was encouraging and we saw just as many new faces as we did established members. A huge thank you to Revel & Roost, all the organizers and volunteers for this successful event!
Why should I join PaFIA, a frequently asked question, What do I get?
"PaFIA's mission is to promote the film, television and commercial industry in Pennsylvania and to serve as a strong collective voice to address common issues in business circles and government offices. The association also strives to provide business, educational and networking opportunities for its members."
The biggest priority of PaFIA is to support production and business in Pennsylvania by ensuring that Pennsylvania government is aware of the crew members and vendors eager to work. PaFIA does this by supporting a lobbyist to be our voice in Harrisburg. In essence, by joining PaFIA, members are speaking up to support and keep the film tax credit in our state budget.
Productions come to Pennsylvania for the current film tax credits, diverse locations, accommodating vendors and professional crews.
In addition to the business aspect of what PaFIA does at the state level, this organization offers networking at the local level. Crew members, vendors, interns, film students, actors, teachers, casting professionals all gather at these events to share experiences and possibly collaborate.
A recent example is Jennifer Heastings, a CEO of a local non-profit organization called Arts Out Loud. They support and mentor young people looking to pursue careers in the film, television and music industry. She was new to PaFIA, showed up to the Pittsburgh event through a social media invite and came in knowing nothing about the organization. Arts Out Loud is looking to film a documentary on their events to showcase what they do and raise support. When I spoke with her after the event, she reiterated to me how she gained new contacts for her organization including a possible new mentor.
Having recently relocated to Pittsburgh she found this event to be a warm introduction to crew members and like minded professionals. In her words she was pleasantly surprised at how open the people were and how willing they were to offer support and introductions. This was something she had not found previously in other states.
The information and contacts Ms. Heastings gained through attending this event will further assist her efforts in promoting Arts Out Loud and PaFIA gains another valuable member.
Think about what each of us bring to the table; unique skill sets, experiences and talent. Putting all these things together into one resource and group can only benefit
production in Pennsylvania. PaFIA membership is important at the state level as well as the local level. It affects every individual involved in creating film, television and media productions. The jobs in each department are invaluable, from the vendors supplying goods to the artists creating a vision on screen.
Support PaFIA by becoming a member and getting involved!
For more information on Arts Out Loud you can visit www.artsoutloud.org.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org