Film panel names leader

By Derek Gentile
Berkshire Eagle
October 5, 2009

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Board of Directors of the Berkshire Film and Media Commission announced that they have appointed Diane Pearlman as its new executive director.

In a parallel development, the BFMC also announced that it has organized itself as a 501 c-3 non-profit corporation. Pearlman’s selection comes at a time of some debate about how robust the movie industry has been in Massachusetts over the past few years.

A report issued by the state Department of Revenue in July, indicated that direct spending on film and television production is more than $676 million. When the DOR’s “ripple effect” multiplier is factored in, the total economic output tops $870 million inside the state.

And while some analysts are critical of the program, the latest DOR report indicated that the state collected $3.6 million more in taxes that it paid out in credits over the last three years, because the law requires that filmmakers must first spend money in Massachusetts, and then pay taxes on that new spending, before they can receive or redeem any of those tax credits.

Since 2006, more than 3,000 new direct and indirect jobs were created, with a total of 62 percent of those jobs going to Massachusetts residents.

In May, the Boston Globe reported that California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger expressed concern that California was losing film industry jobs to Massachusetts.

“I think there are some naysayers out there,” said Pearlman. “But I also think the most recent numbers support the positive effect the industry has had on filmmaking.”

Following a successful career as a producer in New York City, Pearlman moved to the Berkshires in 1992 to work on a project at The Trumbull Company in Lenox. She went on to co-found Mass. Illusion, a visual effects production company in Lenox. Mass. Illusion has worked on several major films acclaimed for their visual effects, including “The Matrix” and “What Dreams May Come.” Currently, Pearlman is working as a producer on a feature film in development with the expectation that shooting will begin in the Berkshires in the spring.

According to the Massachusetts Film Office, 14 feature films were shot in Massachusetts last year, generating more than $359 million in revenue. The Berkshire Film and Media Commission is seeking to bring some of those production dollars to the county, said Pearlman.
“We would like to see some of that money out here,” she said.

BFMC, said Pearlman, is set up to act as a liaison between film production crews and the Berkshire community, whether it is providing locations, technical and logistical support or community expertise.

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