Surprising City May Be Next Hollywood
Surprising City May Be Next Hollywood, A town once known for steel mills and smog is attracting big films like “The Dark Knight Rises.” Pittsburgh reinvents itself as the new Hollywood for film, Once known for its steel mills and smog, Pittsburgh is fast becoming the Tinseltown of the East. A generous film tax credit, coupled with the region’s diverse landscape and skilled labor unions, have made the city a hot destination for recent productions — and the firms that cater to them.
In the last three years alone, 24 movies have filmed in Western Pennsylvania, including “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Promised Land,” which stars Matt Damon and will be released next year. These films have infused the region’s economy with $300 million since 2009 and helped small businesses to thrive, according to Pittsburgh Film Office Director Dawn Keezer.
Since 2004, Pennsylvania has offered a 25% tax credit for films that spend at least 60% of their total production budget in Pennsylvania. Krista Salera, an accountant with the McQuillan Group who works on film production expenditures, said film companies used to have trouble hitting the 60% mark. Now, she said, in-state expenses regularly top 80%.
“There are a lot more businesses that support the film industry here than there were four years ago, so they can utilize those resources instead of having to bring them in from elsewhere,” Salera said.
One of those local resources is 31st Street Studios, a sound stage and production company located on the site of a former steel mill in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Founded in 2011 by investment banker and native Pittsburgher Chris Breakwell, the facility is 300,000 square feet, making it the largest production facility outside of New York or Los Angeles.