By Gintautas Dumcius
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
February 11, 2010
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 11, 2010…..While most of the nation’s film and television production still takes place in New York and California, Massachusetts ranks high among the fastest growing locations, according to a UMass-Boston study released Thursday.
The film and television industry has also aided local job growth in the construction and transportation sectors and generated new career paths for Bay State college graduates, the report added.
“Employment in film and television production has increased in Massachusetts during a period when total state employment has been on the decline,” the report said. “There is also evidence that some of this job growth has helped to offset job losses in particularly hard hit trades like construction and transportation, as workers from these sectors have found work in film and television production.”
The 72-page study comes as Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed cutting back on a tax credit program for the film industry – capping a $125 million incentive program at $50 million – as one of several ways to close a $2.7 billion structural deficit in the fiscal 2011 budget. The tax credit program was created in 2005 by the Legislature.
According to data the study uses from the Motion Picture Association of America and others, the state grabbed slightly over 1 percent of total national spending on motion pictures and television productions in 2007.
“While Massachusetts does not currently capture a large percentage of the national film and television production spending, it seems to be growing more rapidly than other states (some of which have more generous tax programs) and capturing work that might otherwise be taking place elsewhere,” the report said.
Chris O’Donnell, a film industry union official and founding member of the Massachusetts Production Coalition, cited the report in urging Patrick not to cut the tax credit.
“While we empathize with the Governor’s need to identify revenue to help fill the budget gap, we are concerned that the proposed $50 million cap on the credit will drive the film and television industry to another state. The benefits of the credit – jobs creation and building the industry’s infrastructure – far outweigh its cost.”
The study, funded through a “creative economy initiatives” fund at UMass-Boston, was primarily authored by Pacey Foster, a management and marketing professor, and David Terkla, an economics professor. The study employed federal and local economic data, interviews with industry participants, and employment and spending data provided by local unions.