MIKE ARMSTRONG:  Welcome to the show.  What do the films Beloved, Invincible, and The Sixth Sense have in common?  They were all shot in Philadelphia, and there are many more to come.  There’s a business reason behind Hollywood coming to the city, and that’s what we’re talking about today.  Philadelphia Business Today starts now.

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MIKE ARMSTRONG:  We’re shooting again in the photo studio of The Philadelphia Inquirer.  We normally shoot on the newsroom floor, but right now there’s a couple of hundred actors and crew members down there filming a scene from Marley & Me.  It may seem obvious that filming would happen here, where the book was set, but it isn’t.  Movies and television shows tend to be shot where it’s cheapest to do so.  And for a long time, Philadelphia was considered too expensive.  That changed in 2004.  Pennsylvania now has one of the most attractive tax incentive programs in the country.  Several days ago, I spoke with Nicole Shiner of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, who talked about the program. 

How does the Pennsylvania tax credit program compare with other states?

NICOLE SHINER:  Well, when we passed it, it became very clear that we went right to the top of the heap of tax credit programs.  It’s $75 million, which is a huge increase from our previous tax credits, which were $10 million a year.  So filmmakers really seem to like them.  It’s a 25 percent transferrable tax credit, as long as the company spends 60 percent or more of their total budget in Pennsylvania.

MIKE ARMSTRONG:  How does Pennsylvania’s tax credit work?

NICOLE SHINER:  Well, let’s use an easy example of a $1 million budget.  Say you are a producer, and you have a million dollars – a picture for a million dollars.  You have to show that you’re gonna spend, at a minimum, 60 percent of your budget in Pennsylvania.  If you do that – say you’re gonna spend the entire thing here.  So, as a very easy example, you’re gonna spend 100 percent of your budget here.  You’ll then qualify for a 25 percent tax credit.  So you’ll get $250,000 as a transferrable tax credit.  And really, the tax credit program, although it looks like it’s really just benefiting the people getting the tax credit, that’s not really the case at all.  Because when a film production is here, the production rents hotel rooms.  They do their dry cleaning here.  They eat out at our restaurants.  They are seen at local bars.  They spend their money here.

MIKE ARMSTRONG:  Of all the movies shot in Philadelphia, which is your favorite?

NICOLE SHINER:  Wow.  Out of the hundreds and hundreds that I know of, I’m gonna have to go with The Sixth Sense.  I’m a big fan.  And as you may know, Night’s back in June with his next one, The Happening.

MIKE ARMSTRONG:  Nicole, thank you very much.  That’s Nicole Shiner of The Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

That’s it for this week.  At The Inquirer, I’m Mike Armstrong for Philadelphia Business Today.

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