To make money, you sometimes have to spend money, and the Pennsylvania film industry holds to that adage.
The Pittsburgh Film Office and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office believe the commonwealth could attract more film and television production if the legislature would consider increasing the state’s $60 million film tax credit program.
The offices are lobbying to more than double the credits to $150 million a year to compete with other states such as New York and Georgia. State Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) said while an increase is justified, the $150 million figure might be a little too high.
“I’m thinking that we compromise it to $100 [million], and try to get to term, a commitment for three years on $100 million, and then go back and look at it again,” he said.
Even though he agrees the tax credit amount should be raised, Fontana feels the biggest issue is with how the program is assessed.
“We vote on [the amount] on a year to year basis, which means that the industry has to- they’re not sure,” he said. “If they want to do a series for example, and a series that, you know, most T.V. series last more than a year, it’s hard to film a series here because they’re not sure, year to year, whether the money will be allocated through the budget process.”
Fontana said the tax credits have put more than $1 billion into the Pennsylvania economy, but added they are a trade-off.
“Obviously you give the credit to generate other income,” Fontana said. “And then that billion dollars that I talked about is calculated in the trickle down, which is when those folks are in town: they’re at hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, jobs that are, you know, increased because those folks are in town.”
According to a Pennsylvania Economic Development report, $242.5 million has been given out in state tax credits since 2008. In turn, these companies have generated an estimated $1.8 billion into the state economy. The film industry has also supported nearly 14,500 jobs.