In 1762, Pennsylvania Chief Justice William Allen planted roots in the state’s Lehigh Valley. He called the place Northamptontown, but as recognition of his devotion to the area and the respect he received from the locals, the acreage came to be known as “Allen’s Town.” What started as a small community centered on the advancements of the Industrial Revolution is today a small community centered on much the same. Over the years the area has modernized but those small-town values remain a constant. Allentown’s fame is largely derived from the safe haven it provided the Liberty Bell during Britain’s search for the American icon, Billy Joel’s popular 1980s single “Allentown” and, if local Zeke Zelker gets his way, for its moviemaking opportunities.
Nearly 10 years ago Zelker began the production company Independent Dream Machine, headquartered right in the heart of this Pennsylvania metropolis. What drew him was the landscape, which can easily accommodate movies set in bustling cities, rural farmlands and the occasional early American drama. “The architecture, spanning from the late 1600s to today, and the rural to urban landscape, all within five miles of each other is very cinematically interesting,” Zelker explains.
More than the variety of locations and the accessibility to nearby Philadelphia and Manhattan, moviemakers looking to film in Allentown, Pennsylvania have the opportunity to take advantage of the state’s rebate program, which returns up to 25 percent of a production’s expenses. With so much rich history in the state and the continued importance it holds to the nation, Allentown and Pennsylvania at large offer great incentives to using land (sometimes even for free–see rules pertaining to government property) for movie production. For more information, stay tuned for the release of Zelker’s Allentown-based In Search Of and the new Creativity in Focus incentive guidelines, soon to be released by the Pennsylvania Film Office.
For more information on Zelker and his Independent Dream Machine, visit http://www.idreammachine.com.