(Hollywood) Bright lines
Trib readers react to the editorial "... Cut!" (March 3 and TribLIVE.com) advocating elimination of the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit:
Mike Matesic, president of Pittsburgh-based International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Studio Mechanics Local 489 ( iatse489.org ) -- Studies have been done over and over again which prove the credit is not a Hollywood handout but makes the state millions of dollars every year. My union grew from 90 members in 2006 to more than 300 today. One of my jobs is to meet with producers. I ask each one question: "Why film Pittsburgh?" The answer is always the same: "Your tax credit!" So before you get rid of thousands of jobs with the swoop of your pen, get your facts straight!
Robert Muscarella, Local 489 member -- Having film productions come to Pennsylvania doesn't cost the state a dime. They pay for permits, buy materials and supplies locally, rent the locations they use to film and hire people who live, work and spend money right back into their local economies. Your statement is completely false.
Paul Bucciarelli, Local 489 vice president -- Most of the studies that have concluded that the credit is beneficial to Pennsylvania's economy have not been commissioned by Hollywood and skewed to its best interests. The editorial is politicizing this issue at the expense of the state's residents. This appalling piece of fiction smells of special interests that are certainly not those of Pennsylvania's citizens or the film industry. Comparing it to the Marcellus shale issue is ridiculous in the extreme.
Norman R. Johnson, scenic carpenter and Local 489 member -- The editorial cherry-picked statistics and stated opinion as fact. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee funded an Economics Research Associates study that found the credit created a net gain of $4.5 million to state coffers while dumping $900 million into the Pennsylvania economy. When you add up direct taxes paid, sales taxes on all goods and services purchased and income taxes paid by Pennsylvanians employed in the film industry, you find that the state is picking Hollywood's pocket and giving it back the change. The film industry employing only .02 percent of the Pennsylvania labor force is true only if you count those people employed directly by filmmakers.
Heather Seok, executive director of the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association ( pafia.org ) -- The editorial made several inaccurate statements. Here are the facts since the credit was enacted in July 2007: $768 million in direct spending , $1.2 billion in economic activity, $40 million in measured tax revenues (this does not include revenues from various vendors and local businesses that don't track film revenue as part of annual gross receipts) and more than 10,000 jobs. The credit works and it needs to be supported.
Casey T. LaRocco, set medic and Local 489 member -- I struggled for 10 years to make ends meet, support my family and whittle away at my debt. When I had the opportunity to work on films here in Pittsburgh I was finally able to get ahead of my bills and have hope for my future. I am not rich. I am not a movie star. I am a middle-class worker who lives in Beechview. How dare you say the credit does not benefit anyone• I am a proud, hardworking American who needs this credit to continue. Please put your effort toward something that doesn't hurt people who are your neighbors.