This summer, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation and Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law the $75 million Pennsylvania Film Production Tax Credit Program.
The change became effective July 1. Pennsylvania provides a 25 percent film production tax credit for film production expenses incurred in the Commonwealth. The transferable tax credit is available for feature films, TV shows and series, and commercials intended for a national audience. In order to qualify for the tax credit, 60 percent of the total production expenses must be incurred in Pennsylvania. No more than $75 million per year can be awarded.
Congratulations to the Philadelphia branch SAG members who helped to win this exciting program. On June 26, 2007, dozens of members rallied in Harrisburg, demonstrating to their legislators that they supported the film incentive bill. For their hard work, special thanks also goes to Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director, Greater Philadelphia Film Office and to Dawn Keezer, Director, Pittsburgh Film Office.
Special thanks also go to State Representative Mike Sturla of Lancaster and State Senator Jim Ferlo of Highland Park, who both led the efforts in the legislature.
The Pennsylvania Film Office is excited by the response to the program as they have received many applications from those hoping to produce films in the state.
“We are thrilled with the new $75 million tax credit program in Pennsylvania,” says Jane Saul, executive director of the Pennsylvania Film Office. “The response and popularity of the program has been incredible. It is so important to have such rich incentives as filmmaking which creates jobs, promotes tourism and adds direct dollars to the commonwealth’s economy.”
The passage of this legislation is a big step for Pennsylvania to become a very attractive place for making movie magic.
By Mark McNutt
With the prospect of not one but two film studios opening in the Philadelphia area, many are asking the question, "Is Philadelphia the burgeoning 'Hollywood of the East?' "
Thanks to a commitment from the Commonwealth leaders to support the growing film industry in the state, the Philadelphia region is poised to become an increasingly important player in the filmmaking industry. And our members are looking forward to additional work opportunities as a result of these efforts.
One filmmaker doesn’t need any encouragement to utilize the wealth of regional SAG talent. Successful filmmaker, writer and producer M. Night Shyamalan ( TheSixth Sense, Signs, The Village) has been featuring regional talent and locations throughout his career.
Shyamalan was back again this summer with his latest offering, The Happening .
Other films are expected over the next several months, including The Lovely Bones, which will be cast by Diane Heery.
There is truly much to get excited about, and the Philadelphia members of Screen Actors Guild are happy to do their part to make Philly the "Hollywood of the East."
Hundreds of talented Philadelphia SAG and AFTRA members have been able to strut their stuff because our local boy, M. Night Shyamalan, has returned to town. The Happening, featuring Mark Wahlberg, started shooting in early March. In July, Diane Heery Casting announced that 40 principal roles had been cast. In mid August, approximately 300 extras worked for two days at the handsome 30th Street railroad stations. Locations are varied throughout Philadelphia and beautiful Chester County, and our talented Shyamalan hasn’t yet said “It’s a wrap!” We are proud of Sharon Pinkenson’s involvement, and appreciate Diane Heery’s Casting and the New York SAG office staff’s continual support.
Cyndy Drue and Peg Robb
We can shout “action” in the film business in Pittsburgh these days. Nancy Mosser Casting cast Blair Underwood’s directorial debut, the SAGIndie film called The Bridge To Nowhere, starring Ving Rhames. This was the first low budget feature project from Smithfield Street Productions. Mosser cast seven principal players from the Pittsburgh talent pool for Bridge. Nancy Mosser has also been busy with the Pennsylvania Lottery commercials.
Other film activities are coming. In his September 5, 2007, article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Timothy McNulty refers to film producer Mike Wittlin, who used to have a Los Angeles office before moving to a new one in Greentree. McNulty says, “Driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, rather than a Hollywood studio’s front gates, is not the usual route to movie success. But Mr. Wittlin, like a growing number of TV and film producers, has returned to the city, sparking talk that Pittsburgh may be within striking distance of its 1990s movie-making heyday.”
As the article also mentioned, plans are under way for Miramax Picture’s Adventureland , a film by Superbad director Greg Mottola, a Carnegie Mellon University grad. Who knows what will be next? One thing is certain: the SAG members here are ready and waiting.
Although Jae Je Simmons performed exceptionally as the executive director of the Philadelphia Branch, it became necessary for her to devote herself totally to her role as executive director of the New York Division. As of July 28, 2007, Marcia Fishman has assumed the role as the branch executive director for Philadelphia. Marcia has been with Screen Actors Guild for nearly five years as the executive director for the Detroit Branch and, like most branch executive directors, she will travel between the two branches as needed.
Marcia Fishman came to SAG after 20 years as an executive director of several non-profit organizations. Her experiences included extensive work in organizing, fundraising, administration and public relations. Marcia was also one of the founders of an organization called Forgotten Harvest, a Detroit hunger program that gathers perishable food and delivers it to soup kitchens. In fact, when she needed to learn how to create Forgotten Harvest, she traveled to Philadelphia and rode the truck of the city’s “Philabundance,” one of the original models of such a hunger relief institution.
While working in the non-profit sector, Marcia realized that the key to success is to constantly search for opportunities to build relationships. She has already met the staff of the Philadelphia Film Office and has arranged for SAG to have a new presence at two of their upcoming events. She will soon meet with the casting directors and talent agents in the market, and then travel to Pittsburgh for the same efforts.
“My career at SAG has been dedicated to branch work and I see myself as a strong branch advocate,” she states. “I have enjoyed meeting the Philadelphia branch members so far, and with the continual assistance of the staff in New York, I look forward to servicing the members and the industry.”
Tom McCarthy, president of the Philadelphia branch, adds, “The officers and members of the Philadelphia Council support Marcia’s efforts for the Philadelphia branch.”
Note: The 800 number will be activated soon. That number is (800) 724-0767. Until then, you may contact Marcia Fishman at (248) 351-2678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark your calendars for October 15, 2007, for a conservatory with casting directors and special speakers. Learn how to become more successful in your acting career. The event will be 6-10 p.m. at Temple University Center City on Market Street in Philadelphia. Watch your mailbox for more details.
On June 13, the SAG National Board approved the new policy toward re-instatement of those members who choose to resign from the union-- making that choice a permanent one. In accordance with Article IV of the Screen Actors Guild Constitution, members who resign are not eligible for reinstatement to the Guild. However, such persons may petition for a waiver of this policy.
The reinstatement candidate seeking a waiver of this policy is required to schedule an appearance before the Disciplinary Review Committee and present a petition for reinstatement that includes a list of all non-union work done during the period of time between resignation and reinstatement. A petition for reinstatement does not guarantee reinstatement.
“Individuals who make the choice to quit their union cannot expect to be allowed back in without the union asking some questions about why they quit and what sort of work they were doing,” Screen Actors Guild Director of Organizing Todd Amorde said.
“Union membership is between the members and their union, not their agents, not casting directors and certainly not employers. Screen Actors Guild membership offers opportunities and resources that many members are not aware of, so we urge anyone considering resignation, for whatever reasons, to call the union first. We’re here to give you straight answers and discuss your options.”
This change will apply only to those individuals who have resigned from the union, not to those whose membership was terminated because of failure to pay dues. It also does not apply to members on honorable withdrawal or suspended payment status.
Screen Actors Guild has set up a hotline for reporting Spanish-language non-union commercials: (888) 297-4SAG (4724).
When should you use the hotline?
Our goal is to turn these non-union jobs into SAG-covered jobs. You can help by calling the SAG Spanish Language Non-Union Commercials Reporting Hotline toll free at (888) 297-4SAG (4724).
Please provide as much information as you can, such as the name of the advertiser, the advertising agency or production company, the pay rate, the location and the name of the casting director.
The SAG Commercials Department will investigate and follow up. You do not need to leave your name or contact number. All information will be treated confidentially.
Thank you for doing your part to help create more SAG jobs!
If you have questions about this publication, please contact Marcia Fishman at email@example.com.