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Pennsylvania Renews Incentive Program With Cap

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State lawmakers have renewed Pennsylvania's film and television tax credit program for another year but didn't lift the incentive fund's $60 million cap.

Producers, casting directors and SAG-AFTRA were part of a coalition pushing for Harrisburg to uncap the Commonwealth’s Film Production Tax Credit Program.

Supporters of the program told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the state has been losing out on projects as funding for the program inevitably dried up each year.

Pittsburgh, for instance, lost the "Hatfields & McCoys" TV pilot to Boston and the Sundance Channel series "The Descendants" to Georgia. Philadelphia, meanwhile, lost David O. Russell's "American Hustle" about the 1970s Abscam scandal in the city, to Massachusetts.

And Disney's "Million Dollar Arm," about the Pittsburgh Pirates scouting pitching prospects from a competition in India, opted to shoot its domestic scenes in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

The renewal, which passed the House June 30 and the Senate July 1, includes some minor administrative changes but extends the program through 2018.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, who championed the bill, said the Republican lawmaker will continue to be an advocate for uncapping the Film Tax Credit, in addition to adding credits for post-production work and videogame development.

That could be a boon to working actors in Pennsylvania, who often have to scour a tri-market area that includes New York and Washington, D.C. for work.

"There's enough work here for people to start their career, but right now in our area, in order to fully pursue a career in acting many of our members feel that they have to decide between staying here or moving to a big market like NY or LA," Stephen Leshinski, executive director of SAG-AFTRA's Philadelphia Local, told Backstage. "An uncapped film tax credit program would bring enough work that performers could stay here and still support themselves as actors."

 From 2008-2012, the earnings doubled for the Philadelphia Local, he said. "That's how powerful the program now is.”

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