‘World War Z’ set but not filmed in Philly. Why?

 Actor Brad Pitt stars in the film

Actor Brad Pitt stars in the film "World War Z," opening this weekend worldwide. (© 2013, Paramount Pictures)

A much-hyped new film, World War Z, opens today. It’s set in Philadelphia. But it wasn’t made here.

Just imagine what it could have been like: You’re walking down the street in Philly, maybe on South Street or near Rittenhouse Square, only to look up and see Brad Pitt. Hair flowing, cameras rolling, filming the movie, right here in town, providing work for actors, techs, caterers, designers and so on. 

Except, that didn’t happen. The movie was filmed in Glasgow, Scotland, because, advocates for the local film industry say, the Pennsylvania film tax credit is too meager and needs boosting. 

Sharon Pinkenson is the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. 

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“The fact that we lost World War Z,” Pinkenson says, “is 100 percent because of the uncertainty and the insufficient amount of film tax credits that we have had. We lost so many projects this last year that were wanting to come. I would say at least 15 major projects.”

One of those lost projects, as reported recently, was a possible film on the Abscam scandal starring Jenkintown’s own Bradley Cooper. it’s being filmed in Boston instead. How sad is that … Philadelphia losing a movie based on one its most notorious homegrown scandals?

Dawn Meling isn’t impressed by that lament. She’s with the conservative-leaning Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg, which says Pennsylvania lawmakers should focus on creating a better environment for all businesses, not breaks for a few.

“For too long,” Meling said, “lawmakers have been wooed by the bright lights of Hollywood and the blue eyes of Bradley Cooper but simply put, this is a special tax break for Hollywood productions.”

Speaking of that blue-eyed star …

In recent years, production coordinator David Raynor says he’s worked on movies including Cooper’s Silver Linings Playbook, Dead Man Down starting Colin Farrell, and Saved starting Jason Statham.

But Raynor says, “I have definitely lost work. Films that had contacted me that I would have presumably interviewed for and possibly gotten a job on. That’s why we’re fighting for a larger credit or perhaps an uncapped credit.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Tom Corbett says he’s weighing a proposed expansion of the tax credit, now limited to $60 million a year statewide, against other priorities.

Sen. Dominic Pileggi, a Republican who represents Chester and Delaware counties, is pushing legislation to uncap the film tax credit.

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