WILKES-BARRE —Businessman Thom Greco thinks Wilkes-Barre and its surrounding areas are well-suited to make movies.
“This area has unique places that are ideal for movie location shots,” Greco said.
And so Greco and co-founder Lorena Beniquez will announce the Wilkes-Barre Metro Film Office at 2 p.m. today at the Genetti Hotel and Conference Center.
Greco and Beniquez said they are working to promote the area nationally and internationally through the film industry.
“The Wilkes-Barre metro area has a lot to offer the film community and we want to attract our share of production, which necessitates an educated workforce to support job creation locally and bring other families to Wilkes Barre as they relocate from other areas around the nation.” Greco said.
Beniquez added, “The state film office has already proven how film can spur economic development and we intend to follow that path.”
Greco said the state has created the Film Production Tax Credit to help attract the industry to Pennsylvania. Greco has been working with Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser, a resident of Jackson Township, to help bring some of those tax credit dollars to the local economy.
He said the Wilkes-Barre Metro Film Office is a sub-division of the non-profit corporation, Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Development Corp.
Beniquez now is the film commissioner for the Central PA Film Office which serves nine counties. Beniquez is also a documentary/commercial director who spent 10 years in Los Angeles as an entertainment publicist representing actors, television shows and films.
Other board members include: Ken Vose, a screenwriter, playwright, novelist, non-fiction author and current faculty member in the Wilkes University M.A., M.F.A. Creative Writing Program; attorney Megan P. Maguire; Mark Beletiere, an accountant for the entertainment industry who is involved in federal and state tax credit applications and financing; Nikita Shumway, local visual artist from Wilkes-Barre; Jeff Ball, 21st Century Fox media entertainment company, originally from Wilkes Barre; and Tommy Matolla of Sony-CBS, partner Development, Strategy, Finance at 21st Century Fox – Broadcast Media — New York, N.Y.
Greco said more details will be revealed today, but he is confident the new venture will create jobs for residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“One of our main objectives is to create jobs for people living here and to try to grow an industry,” he said. “Filmmakers go where the tax credits are. Most of Pennsylvania’s tax credits have been going to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. We want some to come here.”