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Pittsburgh Losing Movie Business Because Of Low Tax Credit

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In recent years, the production of movies in Pittsburgh has become so commonplace that some may take it for granted.

But the truth is Pittsburgh is losing movies to other cities.

"We've lost a lot of business. Last year, probably five different movies," Chris Breakwell told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

Breakwell owns 31st Street Studios in the Strip District, and he says the state's $60 film tax credit -- awarded to movie and TV production companies who spend most of their money in this state -- was exhausted five months before the end of the fiscal year in June.

"We have three or four movies that are waiting. If we had more tax credits, they'd be here," Breakwell said.

Industry officials say Pennsylvania's tax credit is so low we are losing out to other states.

"Places like Georgia have an uncapped program at 30 percent. They currently today have 22 feature films shooting," said Dawn Keezer, of the Pittsburgh Film Office.

That's 22 films in Georgia.

Keezer says in the last two weeks alone Pittsburgh has lost film work from DreamWorks, Relativity, Fox TV, Fox Features, and The Weinstein Company.

Because of tax credits, a new TV series on A&E -- "Those Who Kill" -- based in Pittsburgh was shot here last year, except for the pilot, which did not get a credit.

"This show went to Boston for the pilot to look like Pittsburgh," noted Breakwell, "and that's just unacceptable."

Two bills have been introduced in the state legislature, one would lift the cap altogether and the other would set it at $100 million.

What's the holdup? Gov. Tom Corbett's office.

The administration says fiscal reality has held the tax credit at this lower level for several years -- and that may not change -- even if that means lost jobs locally.

"If we had some more tax credits, in the end this would be a booming industry here in Pittsburgh," added Breakwell.

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