News Column

Pa. film industry workers take their talents south

June 23, 2014

By Jason Cato, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

June 23--ATLANTA -- Joe Waterkotte packed his truck and headed to Atlanta on Easter. Brent Peelor and Louis P. Taylor followed a day later.

The Western Pennsylvania trio hopes to return by Labor Day. Until then, they will run the construction crew for "Satisfaction," a television series that will premiere on July 17 on the USA Network.

"I don't leave home without them," said Waterkotte, 58, of Pitcairn, a musician-turned-construction coordinator.

The three have a combined 85 years of experience working on more than 70 productions. Though most of the jobs were in Pennsylvania, they've worked in Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and now, Georgia.

All said they prefer to work in Pittsburgh and wish the state's film tax credit program had enough money to make that possible.

"My wife asked me if we're moving to Georgia. But I'm not moving from Pittsburgh," said Peelor, 43, of Mt. Lebanon, a construction foreman and vice president of the local studio mechanics union.

Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2007 revamped the state's incentive program to attract films and television shows by providing $75 million annually in tax credits. They've since reduced it to $60 million.

Pending legislation could increase that amount.

"When they were at $75 million, Pittsburgh got work nine months out of the year," Peelor said. "Now Pittsburgh averages four or five projects a year."

Four movies are filming in Pittsburgh or soon will be. "Fathers and Daughters" wrapped in May.

Andrew Ullman of Philadelphia is the locations manager for "Triple Nine," a heist-thriller. It's his third film in Georgia in as many years, he said. "I'd work on anything if it was at home. This is tough," he said.

Pittsburgh has a history of hosting films, with its diverse locations and experienced crew base, among other amenities, said Taylor, 62, of Lawrenceville.

"Everything is in place," said Taylor, who first worked on George Romero's "Creepshow" in 1981. "It's been in place for a long time."

Jason Cato is a Trib Total Media staff writer.


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Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)

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