Filming with Will Smith in Braddock. Photo by Nate Guidry from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

“This former steel city has become a center of movie and television production, but the uncertain future of state tax incentives has advocates concerned that the region could soon lose that starring role,” reports the Wall St. Journal about Pittsburgh in an article on January 2.

“Spending on film and television projects in this city hit $150 million last year, up from about $10 million a decade ago, according to the Pittsburgh Film Office, an economic-development nonprofit. Several film producers said the city’s range of backdrops, relatively low labor costs and mild summer weather have helped to push it onto the list of top U.S. locations where major movies are filmed, along with such places as Atlanta, New Orleans and New York.”

The city benefits from a boost in statewide incentives that puts Pittsburgh on par with other states such as Louisiana and Georgia, Dawn Keezer told the WSJ. Curently two $80 million plus movies were recently filming here including The Last Witch Hunter with Vin Diesel and Concussion with Will Smith.

“Companies that spend at least 60% of their project budgets in state at qualified facilities can get the equivalent of 30% of that money back under a measure signed by outgoing Republican Gov. Tom Corbett,” reports the WSJ. “The incentive is in the form of a tax credit that can be used by the film company or sold to Pennsylvania corporations, which use them to offset their state taxes.

Keezer has asked Governor-elect Tom Wolf to raise the current cap of incentives money from $60 million per year to $100 million or to get rid of the cap altogether. “New York’s tax credit is capped at $450 million, while Louisiana’s limit is $150 million and Georgia has no cap. Local lawmakers have joined the effort. “We’re hopeful that he’s going to see how important the film industry is,” Ms. Keezer told the WSJ.

While film tax credits have drawn opposition in some states such as North Carolina and Michigan where some tax breaks were eliminated, other states, including California at $330 million a year, have increased them.

Pittsburgh has other draws, notes the WSJ. “Its dense downtown can double for New York or Chicago, and its bridges, hills, old neighborhoods and industrial sites provide a range of backdrops. The 300,000-square-foot studio space is the largest outside Los Angeles and New York, and several others are being built.”

“When you’re saving 25% to 30% of the money you’re spending, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? It makes no sense to ignore it,” said Bernie Goldmann, a producer of “The Last Witch Hunter” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., which is believed to be the most expensive movie ever filmed entirely in the region.”

To read the full article click here.

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