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Gov.'s Proposed Budget Keeps Incentives For Film, TV Producers

By Melissa Fullerton
Published On: Aug 17 2011 02:24:07 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 06 2011 05:36:13 AM CDT
READING, Pa. -

Governor Tom Corbett's spending plan has taken a lot of heat, but it's also getting some praise. And it's even helped get the attention of Bruce Wayne.

This summer, actor Christian Bale will ride his Batmobile through the streets of Pittsburgh. The Steel City will take on the role of Gotham City for the final installment of the Batman movies, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Representatives from the Pittsburgh Film Office said they were successful luring the production away from Chicago using the Pennsylvania Film Production Tax Credit. Funding for the credit includes $60 million left whole in Gov. Corbett's budget proposal.

"I do believe the governor gets it," said Santo Marabella, chair of the Greater Reading Film Commission.

According to Marabella, when television or film producers call to scout locations in Berks County, the commission touts the state's 25 percent tax credit as a selling point.

"We haven't seen any action because of that yet," explained the commission's co-chair, Crystal Seitz. "But it doesn't mean we won't."

Still, Reading is seeing some action from the film industry. There are no blockbuster productions in the works, but there are and have been film crews making regular visits to the area.

Lifetime's "Fairy Job Mother" recently wrapped filming around Reading. And in January, TLC's show, "Freaky Eaters," brought crews to the area.

"At least $10,000 came into this community as a result of their nine days here," Marabella said.

That may not seem like much, but for the time being, the Greater Reading Film Commission is working on a shoestring budget and Marabella said they're still seeing growth.

"We're trying to build an industry so it's a slow process," Marabella explained

Those who are working on that process hope the drama of the budget process ends with the Film Production Tax Credit in tact.

"Because other states offer it," said Seitz. "So, it gives us one up in competitiveness with other states."

One of the most recent movies to be filmed in Pennsylvania, M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender," featured locations in Berks and Carbon counties, including the Pagoda atop Mount Penn in Reading.

Pittsburgh is also no stranger to film productions, having been the location for more than 100 film and television products since 1990.

Filming of the Batman movie, scheduled to start in July, could last between four and six weeks.

"Film production means jobs for Pennsylvanians, it's as simple as that," said Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. "A single film can mean millions of dollars and many local jobs."

The film, "The Dark Knight Rises," is scheduled to be released in July 2012, and stars Bale, Gary Oldman, and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.

The previous films include "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight."