Pa. Film Tax Credit All Dried Up

City officials say funding cuts may keep new film projects out of the region

Philadelphia is the city that has brought us cinema classics like Rocky and more recent blockbusters like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Happening.

But now, the curtain could be closing for Pennsylvania's thriving film industry. Experts say it’s all because the budget for the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit has dried up.

"We don’t have any more money on the state level to give out anywhere in the state," says Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

Pinkenson says there's absolutely no money left for new projects. "The tax credits for the current fiscal year and the one that’s coming up beginning in July have already been accounted for by projects have been here this whole last year."
Enacted in 2007, the program offers a 25-percent transferrable tax credit to television and film productions in the commonwealth.

The budget for the credit was initially $75 million, but in the 2010 budget, lawmakers in Harrisburg slashed that figure to $42 million. A slight increase is scheduled for next year.

Pinkenson is working on a number of current projects, but without the tax credit they will likely go to other cities -- meaning a loss of revenue and thousands of jobs.
"All of our locals who work on film and TV projects will be out of work," she says. "They’ll be on the unemployment line collecting unemployment instead of paying taxes."
In addition to creating thousands of jobs, experts say the tax credit has also generated a whopping $300 million dollars in film production.

One-time screenwriter, Kemper Herron says the tax credit is vitally important and he hopes lawmakers will find a way.
"I think they should fund it because the jobs are here and it’s a good thing for the city," he said.
Others admit they don’t know much about the tax credit, but they would hate to lose the thrill of watching a movie being filmed in their backyard.
"Just to know that, you kinda live in a city that people outside the city think is worth being put on TV," says Ashley Blakeney.
Representatives with Gov. Rendell's office say it's possible the film tax credit will receive more funding, but that it's unlikely given the state faces a possible billion-dollar deficit.

Lawmakers are hammering out a budget between now and the end of June.

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