By: Maria Shamkalian
Please, meet Jennifer Yee McDevitt who is a local Pennsylvania screenwriter with 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.
1) Please describe your most recent success and how you have grown in the industry.
For the past couple years I've been grateful to write for Amazon and Netflix. Currently, I'm writing the next movie for Universal Pictures. It's an adaptation of the popular novel Goodbye Vitamin. Dylan Clark (The Batman, Bird Box) is producing the film for Universal.
2) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
I recently wrote a television pilot set in Pennsylvania. Hopefully one day we'll get to shoot it here.
3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
Earlier in my career, I lived in Los Angeles for 5 years. I decided to move back to my hometown of Philadelphia because I wanted to be closer to my family for the long-term. It has definitely been challenging to work long-distance, when all of my colleagues are in LA and New York, but it is completely worth it to me. Pennsylvania is where I grew up. It's where I met my husband. We got married here, bought a house here, and started a family together here. I love putting my family first, and the joy it has given me has made me a better writer.
4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
One of my pipe dreams is to someday shoot a West Wing style walk-and-talk scene through Reading Terminal Market!
5) What is your advice for aspiring filmmakers?
Follow your heart, be patient, and don't give up. It's a very long marathon, not a sprint. I wanted to write movies when I was 21 years old, but it took me 11 years to actually become a working screenwriter.
6) What would be the best way for our local cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
If one of my scripts shoots in the region, there will be local casting and crew calls.
7) 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 the PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
The PA film industry brings massive economic growth and employment to our state. Every time a movie shoots here, our neighborhoods benefit, restaurants benefit, hotels benefit, retailers benefit - and the positive domino effect is endless. On the writing end, my colleagues and I have written many scripts set in Pennsylvania - but because of the tax credit - most of those projects moved to Georgia, Canada, and Europe. It's discouraging because we're specifically working very hard to bring more economic growth to our home state - and uncapping the tax credit is critical to making that happen. The PaFIA team has been amazing in their advocacy work in Harrisburg and additionally in building a sense of community for all of us. PaFIA Board Member Dave Raynor has been a wonderful mentor to me for many years. His genuine friendship and guidance to so many of us embodies the kindness amongst artists here and why I love working here.
8) What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
In the beginning, several people told me, "It'll get easier." The truth is - it doesn't get easier, but you get much more experienced and you get better!
Written by: Jaymie Macek, PAFIA Social Media CoordinatorPhotos by: Maria Shamkalian, PAFIA Vice Chair
It has been almost a year since Philadelphia, Pennsylvania started to host monthly networking nights for the local film industry professionals to network, collaborate on the projects, and learn more about the benefit of film tax credits. These events are free for both members and non-members, and they help us spread the word about the importance of film tax credits and hear stories and experiences from those in the industry.
Each month, PAFIA members, film enthusiasts, crew members, actors, casting directors, screenwriters, producers, directors, agents, investors, and curious minds all collide at The Happy Rooster in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Located in the heart of Philly, The Happy Rooster has been a staple of the Philadelphia scene for decades. They serve irresistible food, delicious drinks, and fabulous experiences. Currently, they hold the title for the best lobster in Philadelphia, as well as best host for our Philadelphia PAFIA monthly socials!
Every month, The Happy Rooster spoils PAFIA attendees with a private room, delicious complimentary appetizers, and a variety of drink specials, all tailored for the organization. They also began to offer a brand-new option for these Networking Nights - karaoke! Their staff is extremely helpful, and they always provide a pleasant experience for everyone while guests are singing, drinking, eating, participating in a 50/50 raffle, taking $20 headshots with Michael E. Pearson, learning about new productions, and advocating for the film tax credit. Their generosity and dedication to the organization has made the PAFIA Networking Nights in Philadelphia a huge success.
If you’re looking for a PAFIA approved space to meet, greet, and eat in Philadelphia, look no further than 118 S. 16th Street. We look forward to continuing our partnership with The Happy Rooster and all the Philadelphia Networking Nights in the future.
By: Courtney Gumpf
Partner | Flying Scooter Productions
PAFIA Board Member
When I became a Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA) board member about a year ago, I realized I was unaware of its core objective. Absolutely, I was familiar with the organization and was a supporter of the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit, but I lacked an understanding of their mission – to educate legislation on the benefits of the Film Tax Credit.
I began my career in film and television and have many friends who are still in the industry today. It is because of my experiences I have been able to witness first-hand the job security and economic growth the film tax credit provides. So, when the opportunity presented itself to travel to Harrisburg and meet with the lobbyists and legislators, I was eager to attend, learn more and share my point of view.
Arriving in Harrisburg, I didn’t know what to expect and have to admit was a little nervous. I quickly met with fellow board members David Haddad, Lela Checco and our Lobbyist Jim Davis. The Senate was in session, so Mr. Davis filled us in on the latest developments, and both Lela and I had the opportunity to share stories of impact we’ve seen both personally and economically due to the film tax credit. We then stopped by the capital building where we introduced ourselves to Senators from both the eastern and western sides of the state and explained the importance of continuing and raising the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit.
A dinner with a State Senator quickly followed and we were able to spend one-on-one time explaining our stories in more detail. He was extremely pleased to hear how many local businesses and crew members have been affected and grown due to the movie and television industry. I explained how after college I planned on moving out of the state; however, with the amount of filming that took place in 2008-2009 was able to start the career I always wanted in my hometown state of Pennsylvania.
Overall, the experience was more beneficial than I could have imagined, and I definitely learned the importance of building relationships and connections in Harrisburg. The opportunity for face-to-face conversations is crucial in educating the House and Senate members who have the power to vote by keeping the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit at the top of their minds.
Our crew here is incredible, and it is up to us to continue the discussion, reach out and all share our stories!
You can start by calling and emailing if you can't make it to Harrisburg: http://bit.ly/ContactPARep
By: Lela Checco, Crafty Craft Services, LLC
PAFIA Board Member
On Tuesday, February 5th, 2019, I hit the road and headed for Harrisburg to explore, learn, and make my voice heard. It was my first trip to our state capitol as a professional union worker, and I was very excited. But I’ll admit it: I was also very nervous. I felt out of my element and had butterflies in my stomach the whole time!
But despite those butterflies, I got a lot accomplished on my trip. I toured the Capitol Building and, along with Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA) board members David Haddad and Courtney Gumpf, met with PAFIA lobbyist Jim Davis, to get a better understanding of how he interacts with our legislators on an issue that is very close to my heart - filming TV and movies in PA.
I learned a great deal from Mr. Davis and was inspired to do everything I can to help our cause. And later that evening, I took a big step toward that goal, when we sat down to dinner with a senator and his staff. We had a lovely meal, and I put a lot on the table: myself.
I once read somewhere that “people forget the facts but never forget a good story.” So, I went with that and told the senator *my* story, to give him a glimpse of what it’s like working in the film industry in PA. I explained what my career in Craft Services involves and regaled him with stories about providing on-set food and beverages to the cast and crew. I told him how I pride myself on using local businesses as much as possible and emphasized how I’ve seen small businesses grow from my interactions with them, from hitting higher sales goals and acquiring new equipment to expanding their operations, creating physical storefronts and food trucks from social media posts, and much more.
I also described how my own career has grown, due, in large part, to the resources I’ve found in Pennsylvania. I was born and raised and received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Keystone State; and, after a brief stint in California in the early-2000’s, have worked here for well over a decade. I’m now on my way to owning my own food trailers, which, as I told the senator, is only possible because of the connections I’ve made with Pennsylvania businesses through my work in film.
The senator was glad to see how “PA proud” I am and seemed impressed with everything I shared about my connections and interactions with local businesses - and I’m glad that I told my story and demonstrated how the film industry has grown and worked hand-in-hand with other industries to help them grow and make our state’s economy, and residents, thrive.
But mine is not the only story to be told. You’ve got a story too. Tell it! You may not have the time, energy, or money to make it to the capitol. But you can still make your voice heard. Call or email your senator to tell them *your* story. Let them know who you are, what you do, and how it affects the businesses around you.
We have an amazing crew here, and Pennsylvania is our home. The Tax Credit for PA is very important to us, and hopefully it will be raised to a higher limit to keep our family together. So, please, do your part. Stay informed... and keep your representatives informed.
For the first time in a long time, Pennsylvania has an on-time budget. Well in advance of the June 30 deadline, lawmakers and the Wolf administration announced that they had reached agreement on a $32.7 billion budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which is $560 million more than the current year's spend total (a 2% increase).
The General Appropriations Bill, House Bill 2121, passed the House in a 188-10 vote last Wednesday and the Senate in a 47-2 vote on Friday. Late Friday evening the bill was signed by the Governor and reflects an increased amount of education funding; providing an additional $100 million for basic education, $20 million more for pre-K counts, $5 million more for Head Start, $15 million more for special education, $25 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, and a $30 million increase for the career and technical education appropriation in the Department of Education. The budget will also increase funding to the State System of Higher Education and state related universities by 3%. Another $70 million is dedicated toward school safety ($10 million of which will be allocated to an existing safe schools initiative), which became a priority for lawmakers this year following the mass school shootings in Florida and Texas. There is also more funding to help people with intellectual disabilities receive services and funding to help combat the state's opioid crisis by granting 800 more families access to evidence-based home visit services.
The film tax credit remained funded at $65 million. The good news is that an on-time budget means film tax credit applications for projects won't be delayed in being reviewed/approved due to budget delay.
The House and Senate are now adjourned for the summer, returning in September. Looking forward to next summer (2019), expectations are already being set for a late budget - well past June 30.
May 31 is here. June starts tomorrow. Place your annual state budget bets now: on time or late? Changes to the program or not? Your 30-day clock starts tomorrow. Good luck!
With the annual pilgrimage to state budget bliss begins, please pray for state revenues to exceed expectations resulting in a surplus. Notwithstanding that scenario, expect state budget spending to be slightly above the current year's $32 billion budget. As previously reported, the Governor proposed increasing the annual allocation to $32.9 billion, representing an increase of nearly $1 billion. During the days and weeks leading up to June 30th, PAFIA will be actively advocating for an increase in the annual film tax credit allocation. This continued outreach to various members of the General Assembly (House & Senate, Republican & Democrat) has been an integral part of PAFIA's government relations strategy and advocacy. It allows for PAFIA leadership to routinely be introduced to new members of the legislature, as well as outreach to elected officials who have been in office for years. PAFIA will be coordinating with many stakeholders, including the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Film Offices, to increase to the $65 million film tax credit allocation.
PAFIA is very appreciative for the support that legislators and the Governor have for the program, but feel it is a very good time to invest further in the industry - bringing more films and shows to the Commonwealth and creating additional jobs throughout the state. Growth in the industry means more economic activity and investments in the communities where the shoots are taking place.
A brief May 15 primary election update: Four incumbents lost, with the most significant being the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Mayor John Fetterman from Braddock beat current LG Mike Stack, who finished 4th in that race. Three incumbents from Western PA lost: Republican Senator Randy Vulakovich and House of Representative Democrats Paul Costa and Dom Costa. Three special elections were held for vacant House seats: a seat in Washington County (formerly held by Brandon Neuman) changed from Democrat to Republican, a seat in Bucks County (formerly held by Scott Petri) changed from Republican to Democrat, and a seat in Tioga County (formerly held by Matt Baker) stayed Republican.
April was a very quiet month in Harrisburg, the calm before the storm. May will continue to be quiet, leading up to the May 15th Primary election. All 203 House seats are on the ballot, half of the Senate seats, along with the races for Lieutenant Governor, Governor, US House, and US Senate. The Senate has adjourned until May 21st. The House will be in Session April 30, May 1, and May 2, and will then adjourn until May 22nd.
And then the mad budget dash leading up to June 30 will be officially underway.
During the days and weeks leading up to June 30, PAFIA will be actively advocating for an increase in the annual film tax credit allocation. This continued outreach to various members of the General Assembly (House and Senate, Republican and Democrat) has been an integral part of PAFIA's government relations strategy and advocacy. It allows for PAFIA leadership to routinely be introduced to new members of the legislature, as well as outreach to elected officials who have been in office for years. PAFIA will be coordinating with many stakeholders, including the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Film Offices, to increase the $65 million film tax credit allocation.
During March, PAFIA President, David Haddad, and PAFIA Government Relations Committee Chair, Mike McCann, traveled to Harrisburg on tow separate occasions for meetings with elected officials to discuss the industry and to promote the benefits of an increase to the annual allocation of the Film Tax Credit. This continued outreach to various members of the General Assembly (House & Senate, Republican & Democrat) has been an integral part of PAFIA's government relations strategy and advocacy. It allows for PAFIA leadership to routinely be introduced to new members of the legislature, as well as outreach to elected officials who have been in office for years. In addition to our advocacy, it allows PAFIA to receive varying perspectives on the film credit, as well as all credits. Some elected officials, at times, express concerns with the concept of tax credits and the overall benefit to the economy of the Commonwealth. PAFIA shares specific example
As previously reported, PAFIA is working with many stakeholders, including the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Film Offices, to seek an increase to the $65 million film tax credit allocation. PAFIA is very appreciative for the support that legislators and the Governor have for the program, but we feel it is a very good time to invest further in the industry - bringing more films and shows to the Commonwealth and creating additional jobs throughout the state.s of what the Film Credit has meant to the industry here in Pennsylvania.
Due to the Primary election on May 15th, the House and Senate will be in session intermittently throughout April and early May, both reconvening during the week of May 21 for the anticipated flurry of budget activity leading up to the June 30th budget deadline.
On Tuesday, February 6th, the Governor gave his annual budget address before members of the House and Senate. The Governor has proposed a $32.9 million budget, nearly $1 billion more than this current year's approved spending plan. In addition to the Governor's budget proposal, revenues for the current fiscal year are exceeding projections, resulting in a surplus. The proposal reflects an additional $225 million in funding for education as well as a severance tax on natural gas.
PAFIA is working with many stakeholders, including the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Film Offices, to seek an increase to the $65 million film tax credit allocation. While PAFIA remains very appreciative for the support that legislators and the Governor have for the program, we feel it is a very good time to invest further in the industry - bringing more films and shows to the Commonwealth, creating additional jobs throughout the state. PAFIA will be working closely with our supporters, as well as reaching out to those legislators who don't support the tax credit or remain skeptical of the benefits and impacts.
As February ends, House and Senate Appropriations Committees will be finishing up their hearings with all the state agencies and return to session on March 12. PAFIA will continue to fight for the program.
The House and Senate returned on Tuesday, January 2nd and both were in session last week (Jan 22-24). For the week of January 29th, only the Senate is in session. Both the House and Senate are in session next week, and the Governor gives his annual budget address on Tuesday, February 6. The House and Senate will adjourn for Appropriations hearings, returning to session in mid March.
It is my understanding that the Governor will propose that the FIlm Tax Credit will remain funded at $65 million for this year. During our subsequent outreach, we will express appreciation for the continued support but will make a measured plea for a responsible increase in the amount. With 2018 being a re-election year for the Governor, all House members, and half of the Senate, there will likely be fiscal challenges with balancing the budget. Sound familiar? Stay tuned...
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org