By Kathryn Koch
June 16, 2009
PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce wants to help the South Shore gain fame as a film-friendly region for the production of movies, documentaries, commercials and other forms of entertainment.
The Chamber’s new FAME (Film, Arts, Movie Production and Entertainment) initiative aims to accelerate the growth of the film industry in all South Shore towns, and not just the nine communities the organization serves, according to Executive Director Denis Hanks.
“As these films and smaller productions start coming in, we’d like to entice them to the South Shore,” he said. “We want to really start marketing ourselves as a film-friendly community.”
The FAME initiative, independent of Plymouth Rock Studios’ planned movie and entertainment production facility, focuses on enticing producers to shoot on location in area towns, Hanks said. The initiative proposes to take advantage of the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit, attracting more and more productions to Massachusetts. To make it more convenient for producers to decide if and when they should film in towns on the South Shore, Hanks said efforts are underway to develop a consistent streamlined permitting approval process.
“Usually there’s need for a quick turnaround of about a week,” he said. “We’re trying to work with all the South Shore communities to adopt an approval process.”
In collaboration with the Massachusetts Film Office, FAME will highlight regional strengths and possible locations for filming. The Chamber has also partnered with the Plymouth County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the area’s regional tourist council for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. Hanks can’t wait for the day the famous director rumored to have the rights to Stephen Philbrick’s book Mayflower decides to make the movie about Plymouth in Plymouth, boosting tourism while making filming in the area even more attractive.
“We want to really start marketing ourselves as a film-friendly community,” he said.
Production crews would be able to go to www.fameplymouth.com to look at photographs of area towns to find the right location for the production they’ve planned. The Web site also features information on training and education programs at local colleges and universities and the goods and services Chamber member businesses provide.
Hanks said one goal is to build a workforce around the entertainment industry. While some jobs might be considered temporary, he said, a skilled worker with experience and solid references can get a series of jobs that make the work more seasonal than temporary. Productions shot outdoors on location are seasonal.
A key component to building a workforce focuses on education. Hanks said many colleges and universities, including Massasoit, Curry and Quincy colleges, locally, offer film programs to students seeking training in visual and performing arts, media and broadcasting. These programs will be highlighted during a presentation in Plymouth in October. Area high schools are also starting to offer programs for students to learn about filmmaking and special effects.
Hanks serves on the South Coastal Workforce Investment Board that oversees federal and state workforce development activities. A subcommittee focusing on the film industry wants to increase employment opportunities in careers related to all aspects of the industry.
Chamber members can benefit directly from the initiative when production crews need products and services whether it’s a catering service, hairdresser or company that rents out tents, Hanks said. There are approximately 800 businesses in the Chamber, and they are eligible to be placed on a preferred vendor list that would be provided to production companies.
Hanks said students already have the mindset they need and skills in multiple areas of movie and entertainment production.