On July 30th local filmmakers and actors got to join M. Night Shyamalan in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of his masterpiece The Sixth Sense - one of the most famous and highest-grossing psychological thrillers in the world.
The event started with a VIP reception, followed by the film’s screening at the Philadelphia Film Center - the same theater where the film premiered in 1999! After the screening, Director M. Night Shyamalan and Film Society Executive Director J. Andrew Greenblatt discussed how the film was made, giving the audience an opportunity to ask questions. Guests learned many intriguing behind the scenes facts about the movie and Shyamalan’s path to success. The conversation was so friendly and personal, accompanied by jokes and laughter, that it felt more like a night out with a friend than a meeting with the legend. John Rusk, the first Assistant Director of The Sixth Sense and PAFIA Board Member, also attended the event, and fans got a chance to meet Shyamalan’s right hand man who helped bring this pièce de résistance to life.
M. Night Shyamalan resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is the pride and glory of the Pennsylvania film community. “All these ideas, they come to me based on our city and where we live – this incredible place,” says Shyamalan about Philadelphia. He works primarily in PA and every one of his films is an award-winning blockbuster. His path to success, filled with stories of hard work and perseverance, serve as the true inspiration to the local filmmakers.
All proceeds from the event benefit two great organizations with wonderful missions: the Philadelphia Film Society and M. Night Shyamalan Foundation.
Philadelphia Film Society creates opportunities for diverse communities to experience film through initiatives that inspire, educate, challenge and entertain.
The M. Night Shyamalan Foundation supports the grassroots efforts of emerging leaders as they work to eliminate the barriers created by poverty and social injustice in their communities.
By: Maria Shamkalian
Please, meet David Vincent Bobb who is a local actor and award-winning filmmaker. David starred in a scene opposite Benjamin Bratt in the feature film “Pinero”. His biggest achievement is his most recent film, “Right Before Your Eyes”. He obtained a personal achievement of “Best First Time Director”, awarded to him by the 2019 Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. In total, the film has been selected to 6 film festivals, nominated for 19 awards and has won 6 awards.
1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
My independent feature film “Right Before Your Eyes” recently picked up national distribution with Nagra/myCinema and will have a limited theatrical release on 9.20.19, with Canada, Mexico and worldwide release to follow. This film has been a labor of love of mine for over 14 years. It is inspired by events in my life. It’s the story of a recovering addict and alcoholic on a train ride home to visit his young Autistic son he hasn’t seen since birth. This film would not have been possible without the help of the Philadelphia film scene. I am Philly native and most of my actors and some of my crew are from Philadelphia. I was able to find all of my talent and crew through, of all places, Facebook. I posted that I wanted to shoot a faith-based feature film and was looking for like-minded actors and crew that would be interested in helping me bring this dream to fruition. The response was overwhelming and I couldn’t have been more blessed with the cast and crew involved in the project.
2) How did you get started in the film industry?
After I was discharged from the United States Marine Corps, I was working as a waiter in a seafood restaurant in South Carolina. I would always talk about wanting to get involved in theatre and film but never really pursued it. One day a waitress came into work and told me that they were casting extras for Disney’s “The Jungle Book” live action feature film starring Jason Scott Lee, Cary Elwes, and John Cleese. I went to an open casting call at the Holiday Inn in Beaufort, South Carolina and before I even got back home I had a message on my phone from the Casting Director stating that they want to cast me in the film. One night I was sitting on this elaborate Disney set in the middle of a small island in South Carolina. I was looking around at the stadium lights, the live oxen and elephants walking around, and all of the actors, including myself, dressed in our period pieces and I knew at that exact moment that this would be something I would do for the rest of my life.
3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
I am the kind of guy who stays true to my roots. I am originally from Pennsylvania and as I soon found out, the film industry in Pennsylvania, and in particular, Philadelphia, is thriving. I would have to say the best thing about working in Pennsylvania is the fact that there are so many beautiful locations to shoot and a plethora of filmmakers, cast, and crew that are as hungry as I am to make poignant and lasting films.
4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
I’ve been lucky enough to have locations such as The Colebrookdale Railroad in beautiful Boyertown, Pa, as well as some real gems in Harrisburg, Pa (Bethesda Mission), and Camp Hill, Pa (Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral).
5) What do you love the most about your job?
The friendships that are created on a film set are unlike any other. When you can share your vision with somebody and they believe in that vision enough to help you tell your story and they accept who you are, that is a friendship I’m willing to hold onto for a lifetime.
6) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
It’s been a whirlwind ever since my first project started taking off. I’ve gotten several offers to write/co-write, direct, and produce several different features. For now, I am going to focus on seeing my current project all the way through to the finish line (international distribution) before I make any moves to go to the next project. When the time is right, I’ll know it.
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 PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
To me the obvious would be the job opportunities that open up to filmmakers, cast, and crew when projects are advertised. The local economy flourishes when these filmmakers plant their feet in whichever City they are shooting. Local businesses (restaurants, markets, hotels, etc.) not only benefit from an increased spike in sales while these projects are in town, but the advertising a filmmaker can offer (having a local business featured in a film) could have some really substantial long-term effects for that business. I can think of no better way to advertise than with a medium that has the potential to be visible to millions of people worldwide in perpetuity.
8) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
My biggest piece of advice to filmmakers would be when you hire cast and crew for your project make sure that they truly believe in your project. Hire not only based on talent, but also based on their commitment to their craft and professionalism. You can usually tell at a casting call or when speaking to crew on the phone or in person if they are somebody you want to spend the next few weeks/months with. Investigate the cast and crew you want to hire. Check out their resumes, search IMDb, ask around. Remember this is your vision and your hard-earned money. You have the right to know that what you are getting in return for your blood, sweat, and tears is going to be a quality investment. I was once given a very important piece of sage advice that I’d like to share with you. If you want a successful film, make sure you have these 3 elements: a good story, a good cast, and a good crew. The only way you are going to have those 3 elements is to do the research. Don’t rush your project and be diligent. It will be worth it in the end and you have an amazing story to share with the world.
9) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
Be nice on set and people will remember you. Remember, this is a profession, treat it like one. Be respectful to those that hired you and build strong relationships while you are on set, even if it’s only for a day or two. The film industry is a very tight community and word travels fast. If you leave a positive lasting impression on those you work with and work for, gigs will actually start finding you.
10) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
Never ever rush and don’t commit too soon to anything. I was so excited when “Right Before Your Eyes” went into pre-production that instead of researching I made some knee-jerk decisions that ended up being mistakes. What I would recommend is that you ask lots of questions before you make decisions in reference to the entire production process. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you are “green”. Don’t ever feel like you have a “dumb” question or that you will look less knowledgeable if you don’t know how every single piece works. Surround yourself with positive people that genuinely want to help you and believe in your project.
11) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
“The Deer Hunter”
12) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
“Right Before Your Eyes” - www.beforeyoureyesfilm.com
13) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
To help faith-based films become more mainstream. Faith-based films have gotten such a bad rap over the years. But as we progress as a human race, faith-based films do seem to be turning the corner a bit and are starting to make a real statement in the film industry. I want to be a voice for the faith-based film industry. I want to help integrate and change that narrative.
14) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
CDB Films will advertise casting calls when upcoming projects are ready for production. We advertise on all social media outlets as well as using local and national news resources.
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.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 email@example.com