Last summer, Harrisburg expanded Pennsylvania’s film tax credit by 43%, which took the amount up to $100 million. This move was applauded by big productions such as HBO’s Mare of Easttown.
But what really got filmmakers’ attention was the $5 million the Pennsylvania capitol set aside for local production companies and indie filmmakers
However, things didn’t turn out as planned according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, who broke this story. According to the Pulitzer-winning newspaper, Pennsylvania’s smaller and struggling filmmakers have had their requests for money shut down as the entire $5 million was steered by a state agency to M. Night Shyamalan, whose production company is based in Berwyn.
We can all agree that M. Night Shyamalan is not a small and struggling indie filmmaker.
“We didn’t want it all to go to one company,” Rep. Stan Saylor (R., York County), the head of the House Appropriations Committee, told the Inquirer. “It was to be handed out to several small companies vs. big Hollywood studios that could tap into the other money,” he said.
The article goes into detail about what exactly happened. Apparently, The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which oversees the Pennsylvania film office, confirmed that Shyamalan did indeed get the entire indie fil tax credit for Knock at the Cabin.
This is a thriller set for release in 2023. According to the agency, the law does not specify how many companies should be awarded a tax credit. The agency’s press office told The Inquirer, “A big-budget film production leads to “a much larger impact on our economy. The Pennsylvania film tax credit program is an economic development tool to help grow Pennsylvania’s local economies, support small business, and keep as many Pennsylvanians employed for as long of a time as possible.”
Many Pennsylvania filmmakers defend the agency’s decision, saying Shyamalan should be supported as he has made the state his production home. But they also agree that the money should not have come out of the $5 million.
No one deserves the tax credits more than Night. He started here. He consistently stays loyal to Pennsylvania,” Andrew Greenblatt, a Philadelphia filmmaker and CEO and executive director of the Philadelphia Film Society, told The Inquirer.
Greenblatt continued, “His [tax] credits always come from the traditional allotment in Pennsylvania budget, and they should still come from there.” Greenblatt said. “He should be at the front of the line. At the same time, the Pennsylvania Film Office should follow the intent of PA lawmakers to support and encourage more films from local filmmakers and build up the industry in Pennsylvania.”
According to the article, the DCED funded nine projects for the most recent fiscal year. Eight of those projects were awarded at least $4 million of tax credits. The biggest was $15.3 million in tax credits for Servant, Shyamalan’s TV series on Apple TV+.
The only small-budget project: Heroin Film, with $65,712 in tax credits. For the full story click here.