July 9, 2008
Boston, with films like the Oscar-winning “The Departed,” has become a filmmakers haven, while the Berkshires — well, we’ll always have the forgotten Williamstown-filmed “A Change of Seasons.” With the region’s talent, low costs and natural beauty, however, the Berkshires should be attractive to directors, producers and studios, and it is encouraging that a concerted effort is in place to make them welcome here.
Massachusetts was long behind the curve in bringing filmmakers to the state, but that has changed as the Massachusetts Film Office, under the direction of former legislator Nicholas Paleologos, has become better organized and more aggressive. Mr. Paleologos was in the Berkshires Monday to meet with those in the community who want the county to share in the economic benefits brought by Hollywood. Roughly $500 million has been spent making movies in Massachusetts in the last two years, virtually all of it in Boston and vicinity.
The Berkshire Film and Media Arts Commission appears poised to play a key role in this process. The commission is working on creation of a Berkshire Production Guide, which would do a lot of the drudge work for film companies by providing information on hotel rooms and catering services, accessing necessary trade workers and clearing red tape. The county already has a burgeoning arts community in place to draw from, beautiful locales and far lower costs than Boston.
The movie industry is booming, with the box office take up a remarkable 20 percent from a year ago — which follows a pattern associated with tough economic times that goes back to the Depression. With the economic dividends of movie-making comes the long-term benefits of being immortalized on film as a locale. With the help of the Film Office, the Berkshires should become a movie industry player.