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Pittsburgh Film Business Reaching New Highs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- With major stars like Will Smith currently filming in the Hill District and productions popping up all over town, movie-making is back in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Film Office credits the resurgence to a credit.

"Thanks to the film tax credit program, the film industry is doing great," said Jessica Conner, of the Pittsburgh Film Office.

It's 25 percent tax break for all films that do their 70 percent of more of their filming in Pennsylvania.

Since its enactment, the film industry has taken off here. Major movies in the past five years like, "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Jack Reacher."

Conner says, "2015 is shaping up to be the biggest years ever."

Seventeen projects are already scouting Pittsburgh for productions next year - 12 major films and five television films. The Film Office says the list is likely to top a record setting 20 in all.

"Pittsburgh's an amazing town to shoot a movie in," says Bernard Goldman, a film producer.

In addition to the Will Smith film, "Concussion," a film called "The Last Witch Hunter," with action star Vin Diesel is also in production right now.

Goldman says while the tax credit is important, there are other factors as well.

"Well, we looked at other places who had a similar credit. We looked at three or four cities, but Pittsburgh had the best look for our needs," said Goldman.

Another reason is the permanent film workforce here. While critics of the tax credit say the economic benefits come and go with each film, proponents say it's resulting in permanent local jobs.

"The Last Witch Hunter" is doing production work at the 31st Street Studio Soundstage, which employs workers year round.

It's a reason why the film office is asking the state to lift its $60 million cap on the tax credits.

"The more film credits tax money we have, the more production you will see here and the more Pennsylvanians we will put to work," said Conner.

If the cap is lifted off of the film tax credit, the Film Office says the sky's the limit for the film business in Pittsburgh, but that decision will be up to the new governor and the legislature.

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