2016 Poised To Be Profitable For Pittsburgh's Film Industry

Feb 24, 2016

It’s the week of the Oscars and not only Hollywood is abuzz with excitement. Since Pennsylvania’s film tax credit was restored, Pittsburgh has been drawing attention from movie studios and was even listed as one of the top smaller cities for film making by Movie Maker Magazine. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Dawn Keezer, CEO of the Pittsburgh Film Office, to learn the impact a growing film industry has on the city.

While not as big or as glamorous as cities like New York or Chicago, Pittsburgh’s film tax credit has been its most valuable tool for bringing in productions. The Steel City is ranked as having one of the top ten tax credits in the country, according to Keezer.

“It is the single biggest reason anyone comes here to film anything,” she said. “Without some sort of incentive program, you will not see any film work in the region at all.”

The tax credit is currently capped at $60 million per year. Keezer wishes to see it increased to $75 million, with an ideal amount of a $100 million.

However, it is not just movies that are getting Pittsburgh’s attention. TV studios and even Netflix are filming in the city, which Keezer says is even better.

“The goal has always been episodic television because of the long-term nature of the work that they do,” she said. “Most television series are here for six to nine months, they hire several hundred people at a time, they promote from within so it’s almost internal work force training, and they spend a lot of money while they’re here.”

While some may bemoan the discounts film studios receive, Keezer says that since 1995, film production in Pennsylvania has brought in over $1 billion in new money to the economy. Without the tax credit, film companies would not come to the city at all and no revenue would add to Pennsylvania’s economy.

Besides promoting filmmaking, the Pittsburgh Film Office also throws an annual Oscar party. This year’s party, titled “Lights, Glamor, Action,” will be held in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The event will feature Pittsburgh’s largest red carpet, a chance to win $25,000 on an Oscar ballot, and even a possible few surprise appearances by film celebrities.

“Lights, Glamor, Action” is open to the public. Tickets can be bought at pghfilm.org.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.