12. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“When it came time to direct my first feature, The Honeymoon Phase, there wasn’t anywhere else I could imagine shooting it,” says Philadelphia-based director Phillip G. Carroll Jr. about his indie psychological thriller that wrapped in early 2018. “One reason why I love shooting in and around Philly is local excitement for film—people hear you’re making a movie, they want to get involved,” he said, while offering kind words for the Film Office. “The local office is another asset; they’re excited for every project that comes through the city, no matter the budget. Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director, worked very closely with us and helped us to attain a Film Tax Credit worth 25 percent of our PA-based expenses. You can push that to 30 percent if you fulfill additional [production facility and stage] requirements.”
Tax credits in the home of the Liberty Bell are capped at $65 million, seen as insufficient by some who’d prefer it be expanded to $100 million to attract marquee films like 2018’s hit Creed II, which wasn’t considered a lock to shoot in Philly despite the city’s connection to the Rocky brand. The film ultimately received $16.7 million in credits in exchange for incurring a minimum production spend of 60 percent in Pennsylvania. Another recent studio film to shoot in Philly was M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy-capper Glass, which gained approval for just under $7 million in credits.
For The Honeymoon Phase Carroll recalled that the Film Office helped the shoot secure a drone for skyline footage as well as a police escort and permits for a crucial scene inside the One Liberty Place skyscraper. He notes that “as long as you’re not shooting on government property or blocking roads you don’t need a permit, which is huge for low-budget productions” and that indie projects can take advantage of sound stages within city limits, as well as engage with colleges like Temple and Drexel. Also, he adds that Philly is driving distance to picturesque locations: “Within two hours you can be in the Pocono Mountains or on the beaches of the Jersey Shore, and we have all four seasons beautifully represented.”