Staff editorial: New legislation will make filming easier

Duke Staff

Cinemax’s popular series Banshee will set up shop in the Steel City this year, shooting it’s fourth season. Outsiders, WGN America’s new 13-episode drama, will take Banshee’s lead this spring and start production. Olivia Wilde and Amanda Seyfried star in the Christmas-centric film Let It Snow also being filmed in Pittsburgh.

From award-winning films like The Dark Knight Rises and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, to hit reality series like Dance Moms, Pittsburgh has served as a backdrop for many movies and shows. While it’s great to see the city’s skyline and landmarks in film, the larger benefit is the help it gives to the local economy. With new proposed legislation from local government, the goal is to have the list of productions shot here continue to grow.

On Tuesday, City Councilwoman Darlene Harris proposed a bill that would “provide clear guidelines for film production” in Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The legislation is based off the California Film Commission’s model filming ordinance, which “provides general guidance for ensuring film friendly policies in a community,” the ordinance states. Harris’s bill would focus on how the city issues permits to motion pictures, television programs and commercials.

But what the bill really intends to do is keep the film industry here — and keep projects coming.

While the proposed legislation could help in maintaining Pittsburgh’s status in the film community, the Pennsylvania Tax Credit Program is the real driving force. The state offers a 25 percent discount to films that spend 60 percent of their total production in the Commonwealth. To give some scope of the program’s impact, since its implementation in 2007, $632 million in economic impact has been created in southwestern Pennsylvania by the film industry, according to statistics provided by Pittsburgh Film Office communication specialist Steven Bittle.

It’s easy to see how much Pittsburgh benefits from the film industry. The city is asserting itself as an affordable place to shoot, but also offers gorgeous architecture and a variety of urban, suburban and rural environments.

City government, the PFO and Mayor Bill Peduto will work together on Harris’s proposed legislation. Keeping the flow of films coming into the city comes with almost no down side. However, officials must remember that the Pittsburgh community and those who call Pittsburgh home must be included in further decisions. Increasing the number of projects shot here is great, as long as the city doesn’t suffer.