By Thor Jourgensen
The Daily Item of Lynn
February 22, 2010
LYNN – It’s nice to spot Leonardo DiCaprio in Nahant or Bruce Willis in Lynn, but Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo said business is the biggest reason to bring Hollywood to the Bay State.
His view is underscored by a recent University of Massachusetts study concluding the state’s efforts to lure Hollywood stars has transformed Massachusetts into one of the nation’s fastest-growing locations for film and television production with a 117 percent growth in motion picture and video production jobs in the state between 2005 and 2008.
At the center of that attraction campaign is a film industry tax credit approved by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2007. (Patrick now believes the credits need to be capped at $50 million a year as the state tries to recover from the recession.)
“This temporary reduction in funding will allow us to continue to grow jobs in this field while also balancing the budget in tough economic times,” said Kofi Jones, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
DeLeo on Friday called the tax credit “a sound economic development mechanism in these difficult times.”
“The film tax credit helps put our residents to work and stimulate our state’s economy,” DeLeo said through spokesman Seth Gitell.
Joe Maiella, president of Massachusetts Production Coalition, an industry group representing film, video and television production companies, said even a reduction will send the wrong message and turn away film companies, especially during a time when states are competing with ever more generous film tax credits.
“Once you start to scale it back, you create uncertainty,” he said. “If you want to attract films to Massachusetts, you want to attract big films.”
Lynn’s top business promoter loves having Hollywood set up shop in Lynn as long as the wealth gets shared with local merchants.
“It’s great when Hollywood wants to come knocking, but make sure businesses are not paralyzed,” said Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce Director Leslie Gould, referring to what she described as local merchants’ complaints in June 2008 when a Bruce Willis movie crew descended on downtown.
The production in Central Square and on Andrew Street thrilled viewers with low-level helicopter flights and car and motorcycle chases, but it also closed down streets, leaving businesses stranded without deliveries.
She said local restaurateurs hoping to feed the large crew filming “Surrogates” were told an out-of-town catering firm was handling meals.
“Practically speaking, it hurts,” Gould said.
In addition to the action film “Surrogates,” Lynn has seen “The Company Men” and “Edge of Darkness” film locally. “Shutter Island,” now opening in theaters, was filmed in Nahant and film crews also set up an Adam Sandler movie in Marblehead.
The proposal to scale back the tax credit was included in Patrick’s version of the state budget for the new fiscal year.