Defending the film tax credit
I am the author of “Pittsburgh Film History: On Set in the Steel City” and the upcoming book “Pittsburgh Film and Television.” I have spent the last 12 years researching the history of this unique business in Pittsburgh. I am writing in reply to Colin McNickle's April 21 column about the film tax credit and inaccuracies in Ashley W. Edwards' research.
In regard to her first point, a movie will be made with or without a tax incentive. My research began in 2001, when Pittsburgh virtually had a nonexistent film industry because movies were being made in Canada, a country that was cheaper. Between 1995 and 2005, only eight major motion pictures were made in Pittsburgh full time.
Since the inception of the film tax credit, Pittsburgh has been the home of at least four full-time movie productions per year. Without the tax credit, Pittsburgh will see no productions made here because other places are cheaper. With the tax credit, the region will continue to see a maintained industry.
Edwards' second point of an “arms race” with your wallet is a fallacy. Pennsylvania does not set aside $60 million in taxpayer money. Rather, Pennsylvania commits only $100,000. If you don't believe me, please look at Gov. Corbett's budget, which is online for public viewing.
If someone gives you $100 because they like you and you decide to give $25 back, keeping $75 that you never would have had in the first place is not losing money or committing an “arms race” with your wallet. You are making $75.
In the case of the film industry, the money goes to payroll, small businesses (which includes food, building supplies, lodging, etc.) and to the state (which receives millions of dollars a year out of a $100,000 investment, an exceptional return).
Although Edwards is wrong about a net loss of tax revenue, as the facts prove, she is correct about the temporary work. When the tax credit is in work, it does create jobs. In fact, Pittsburgh has had a reputation in the film industry for having the most skilled and talented workers for over 30 years. I've talked to people all over the world for my research.
However, when the tax credit is exhausted, the jobs don't exist. Productions do go to other cities or countries. This is happening right now. Between January and July, no movie productions are set to be made in Pittsburgh. In fact, several productions have opted to go to other cities because they were cheaper. With a raised tax credit cap, work can occur full time in Pittsburgh.
If you don't support the tax credit in principle, that is an admirable stance. Movies should come to Pittsburgh without a tax credit. But like any other business or individual, movie productions also try to receive the best bang for their buck. The film tax credit works. In my book, I let historical fact dictate my stance and support, as I do not directly advocate for the tax credit.
If the historical fact showed that the tax credit didn't work and the committed $100,000 was a bad investment, I would be standing alongside Mr. McNickle and Ms. Edwards.
John Tiech, an English instructor at Westmoreland County Community College, lives in Charleroi.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Obama: Climate pact an ‘act of defiance’ after Paris attacks
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Pennsylvania Game Commission reaps revenue from shale gas under game lands
- Week 12 — Steelers-Seahawks gameday grades
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall
- Muslim civil rights group seeks investigation into shooting of Pittsburgh taxi driver