HARRISBURG, March 5, 2009 – State Senator Wayne D. Fontana (D-Brookline) today provided the following statement in support of Pennsylvania’s Film Production Tax Credit:

“In light of some proposals from my colleagues who are calling for the suspension of the Film Production Tax Credit, I used today’s Senate Budget Appropriations Hearing to take the opportunity to ask questions geared at determining what the impact of the tax credit has been in Pennsylvania. Based on the information provided, I believe that it has been misrepresented.

“Twenty-four productions that received film tax certificates (spending at least 60 percent of their budgets in Pennsylvania) have put 2,600 people to work and pumped $186.4 million into local economies – in addition to $12.2 million in new state revenue; and that’s only one part of the story.

“In order to judge the success of the credit, you must also consider the jobs created, the local businesses that benefit and the potential for expanding the film industry in Pennsylvania.

“Actors and crew members all need to eat, they need someplace to sleep, and they rent cars – at a minimum. Film production accounted for nearly 25,000 hotel room nights in Southwestern PA in 2008. Hotels report that revenue from rented rooms due to film production has increased 800 percent. Car rental agencies have reported a 250 percent increase in revenues from car rentals.

“Pittsburgh’s first full-time series was the 2007 Spike TV drama ‘The Kill Point.’ It employed 250 people full-time, 80 percent of them local residents. During a two-week shoot in Market Square, an additional 300 extras were on the payroll and producers spent $18 million of the $23 million budget locally.

“Pittsburgh isn’t the only area to benefit – the entire Commonwealth has seen an economic benefit from this program. Aurora Films & Music, a Lancaster based production company, filmed a project in Harrisburg entitled “Another Harvest Moon.” The film was shot entirely in Pennsylvania and generated economic activity in excess of $1 million in the Harrisburg area, including approximately 500 room nights in local hotels and other lodging facilities.

“Proponents of tax credits believe that this money should be used to improve the general business climate in ways that assist businesses in retaining jobs and creating new jobs. The Film Production Tax Credit is accomplishing this objective.

“New businesses have begun or expanded because of the business that the film community brings – including Shooters Post & Transfer located in Philadelphia that has invested $2.5 million to upgrade its visual effects division; Location Lighting, Inc. of Oreland has utilized products and services from businesses in Jonestown, Leesport and Elroy; two new studios are being constructed in Pittsburgh; and over $155 million is being invested in three new studio projects in Southeastern Pennsylvania. These are just a few examples of businesses that are retaining jobs and creating new jobs, as well as new businesses that are opening in Pennsylvania because of the Film Production Tax Credit.

“We are building a new industry in Pennsylvania. Community College of Allegheny County has developed curriculum to train students for local jobs needed by the film industry. The program has been modeled after a similar program offered by Oakland Community College in Michigan which has been utilized in films such as “Gran Torino” starring Clint Eastwood. Membership in IATSE 489, the studio mechanics union for Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, has more than doubled since July 2007.

“There is a line of thought that films would still continue to be made here if there were no tax credit, but that does not appear to be the case. Since July 2007, twelve films and/or television productions have been shot in southwestern Pennsylvania. From 1995-2006, there was an average of only two a year.

“The competitive climate has changed. Thirty-six states have similar incentive programs aimed at luring film industry business to their towns. Without tax incentives for the film industry, this business would go elsewhere.

“A recent report prepared by Ernst & Young for the New Mexico State Film Office showed that their tax incentives to film productions generated $253 million of spending from the 30 films done in 2007 in New Mexico. This figure includes direct jobs, indirect jobs, tourism spending and capital expenditures.

“The film business has been booming in Pennsylvania. Thanks to the film credit, our Commonwealth is among the top five states in attracting filmmakers. I, for one, want to keep it that way.”

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