Potential Budget Cuts Put Philadelphia’s Film Industry in Jeopardy

Female Filmmaker
Behind the scene. Female cameraman shooting the film scene with camera in film studio

Philadelphia film industry workers are concerned budget cuts will hurt the city’s film industry.

The Greater Philadelphia Film Office is usually the main point of contact for TV and film producers who may provide resources for producers that are interested in filming in the city, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer,

Philadelphia Mayor Kenney recently announced due to the pandemic related budget crisis; his new budget will defund the Office of the City representative, which provides about $131,000 per year to the Greater Philadelphia Film Office by 18%.

A spokesperson told the Philadelphia Inquirer the mayor is aware the cuts are necessary due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as the city fell short of nearly $650 million.

“The revised FY21 budget was created with clear priorities in mind: keeping all Philadelphians safe, healthy, and educated while maintaining core municipal services,” said spokesperson Lauren Cox. “While the administration values the Greater Philadelphia Film Office and its efforts to bring film projects to the city, our support for their work will need to shift given the painful budget cuts we’ve had to make.”

Philadelphia’s annual budget contribution is one of the four main ways that provide funding to the film office. Another is the agency’s fundraising, a $175,000 grant from the Wyncote Foundation, and corporate sponsorship.

The most significant advantage of filming in Philadelphia is the Pennsylvania tax credit program, which started in 2004. $812 million in film production tax credits were approved by 500 projects, generating $3 billion in direct spending. A cut to the Greater Philadelphia Film Office could hurt the city from competing with major cities such as Atlanta.

In relevant news, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state would publish guidelines next Monday, which would allow film and TV productions to start up in some counties in the state as early as next week.

Newsom broke the news on Wednesday with industry leaders, including Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos and critically acclaimed director Ava DuVernay.

Sarandos pointed out productions were underway in South Korea, Sweden, and Iceland, and those protocols can be transferred to America once production resumes.

“The choices that we have to make today are not staying home or not, it really is how do we get back to work safely,” Sarandos said. “It can definitely be figured out. We have the smartest people in the world working on it.”

Production will not be allowed to resume until the state reaches “Stage 3” of its reopening plan. That said, California is allowing some counties with low viral infections to start up sooner than later.

“It remains a challenging part of the state for us still,” he said. “We are concerned they will be a few weeks behind everybody else.”

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