Local films get $9.3 million in tax credits
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Less than six months after being put in place, the state's new film tax credits are supporting $37 million in spending by movie-makers working on films in the Pittsburgh area, the Pennsylvania Film Office said yesterday.
The office has approved $9.3 million in tax credits for six movie productions around the city since the state approved the new tax incentive program in July. Under the program, movie productions that spend at least 60 percent of their budgets in the state can get up to 25 percent back in credits.
The incentive program "is going great. The response from applicants, film producers, ... has been incredible," film office head Jane Saul said.
The state capped the incentives at $75 million a year statewide. So far, only $28.9 million has been committed around the commonwealth, with $17.5 million going to seven film productions in the Philadelphia region. (Two-thirds of that total is to just one movie, M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening," which is getting $12.5 million in credits.)
Of the six Pittsburgh-area films approved for the tax credits, the biggest production is one that has not filmed yet: "Freedom House," a Universal Pictures film about the Hill District's 1960s ambulance corps. That movie is supposed to spend $18.4 million in the area and get $4.6 million back in credits. "Barbershop" scribe Don Scott co-wrote the script.
Little other information has been released about the film, but it is supposed to employ 258 local film industry workers. In all, the six Pittsburgh films have supported the equivalent of 520 film jobs, the state office said. (There are not 520 different people working on the Pittsburgh films: many are the same workers, working on multiple movies.)
The second largest city production is "Adventureland" from director Greg Mottola, a $9.9 million movie set largely at Kennywood Park. It got nearly $2.5 million in incentives.
Four smaller films -- "The Bridge to Nowhere," "Donor," "Homecoming" and "Tremble" -- shared the rest of the Pittsburgh area's credits.
Saul said the tax credit list is "constantly changing" and includes only those productions that have formally signed contracts with the state. That would explain why other well-publicized Pittsburgh-based films, such as Kevin Smith's $25 million "Zack & Miri Make a Porno," in pre-production now, may not appear on the list.
Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer said the city should be landing more big-name titles next year as studios race to make films before a possible Screen Actors Guild strike in June, using scripts written before the current Writers Guild strike.
"We had four film scouts in last week. We've never had four scouts come in," she said.
First Published December 18, 2007 12:00 am