A legislative committee yesterday unanimously rejected a bill that would have sharply curtailed the state’s tax credit for the film industry, saying the legislation would hurt a thriving industry that is one of the few bright spots in a dour Massachusetts economy.
Legislation scaling back the state’s tax sweeteners for the film industry received a unanimous thumbs-down today from the Revenue Committee. Joe Maiella, president of the Mass. Production Coalition, applauded the vote saying, “The film industry is outperforming virtually every other sector of the Massachusetts economy during the worst economic recession in living memory. This kind of performance should be protected, not damaged.”
Why cut one of the most successful economic incentive programs we have? People are working, new jobs are being created and existing industries are being bolstered by this program.
WCVB-TV 5 and the BostonChannel.com conducted and online survey between March 4th and 8th. Of the more than 5,000 respondents, 77% registered their support of the Massachusetts film tax credit.
Robert Richardson, ASC delves into darkness for Martin Scorcese’s “Shutter Island” which follows a federal investigation into a sinister psychiatric facility.
In the last four years, 38 major motion pictures have been shot in the Bay State, including the Scorsese-DiCaprio “Shutter Island” that’s currently a box office hit. The main reason for the surge in production is a 25 percent film tax credit that went into effect in 2006. It’s generated a billion dollars in economic activity and added jobs in a down economy. For that reason, we believe the credit deserves to stay uncapped.
They came to the Statehouse not to shoot a movie, but to try to save tax credits in Massachusetts. Among those testifying against the bill was Essex Selectman Ray Randall. “It is likely, if we were to calculate it, that hundreds of thousands of dollars were brought into the town of Essex because of the spending on the movie ‘Grown Ups’ last summer,” Randall said.
Supporters swarmed the State House on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to oppose a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve D’Amico to cap the film tax credit. The industry is showing itself to be a bigger force than it was in 2005, when lawmakers first adopted the credits. That’s because the credits are working, and there are plenty of local companies that have been adding many year-round jobs during the worst depths of the recession. D’Amico once told me he hoped that the movie studios that are proposed for Massachusetts would never get built. His reasoning is that such large complexes would create a critical mass of permanent film industry workers in the state, making it politically impossible to take the tax credits away. State lawmakers are finding out that the critical mass is already here. The leaders on Beacon Hill will now need to decide if they want to chase it away.
Hollywood history buff Tom Hanks made a Splash at the JFK Library last night at a screening of his latest World War II epic titled “The Pacific.”
The crowd of more than 300 in the capitol’s largest hearing venue was overwhelmingly in favor of the current tax credits.
“You can’t opt in and then out of offering film tax credits,” said producer David Hoberman (“The Fighter” and “The Proposal”) referring to Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to cap the film tax credit at $50 million – down from around $125 million. “If you’re going to stay in the business of making movies, then stay in the business,” said the man behind Disney’s Mandeville Films, who was at Suffolk University yesterday leading a screenwriting workshop for 50 undergrads. “You need to develop infrastructure and talent. It takes time for people to feel secure enough to stay in Massachusetts if they know there’s going to be work,” he said.
Martin Scorsese’s suspense thriller, “Shutter Island,” led the North American box office for a second consecutive weekend on Sunday, fending off strong debuts from the comedy “Cop Out” and horror remake “The Crazies.” Leonardo DiCaprio, who has collaborated previously with Scorsese, stars in the picture as a federal marshal stranded at a prison hospital for the criminally insane off the coast of Massachusetts in 1954.
If Professors Fitzgerald and Enrich stepped out of their offices at Northeastern University and sauntered to where wage earners are struggling to meet mortgage payments, they might reassess the value of “transient’’ jobs. In Dorchester and South Boston during the summer production season, on the set of the “The Zookeeper,’’ just one of the movies then in production, they would have seen many employees who were happy with their transient union jobs. At the Franklin Park Zoo set, where I worked, there were more than 100 employees for a number of months. They included carpenters, plasterers, painters, greenspersons, Teamsters, dressers, electricians, and laborers, many who had been laid off from other industries.
Our film tax credit law, a bi-partisan initiative, was originally signed by Governor Mitt Romney in 2005 and then significantly upgraded by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007. Though not nearly the most lucrative of credits available to filmmakers at 25% (Connecticut is 30%, Michigan is 40% and Canada is more than 50%), Massachusetts still manages to compete very successfully with those and other locations.
Joe Maiella, president of the Massachusetts Production Coalition, an unexpected attendee at a State House briefing held by critics of film industry tax breaks, took on the leading opponent, Rep. Steve D’Amico, challenging his facts and offering his version of “what’s true” about film production credits.
The MFO salutes SHUTTER ISLAND, the sixth Massachusetts-made movie since 2007 to win VARIETY’s box office title as the NUMBER ONE MOVIE IN AMERICA.
Word outta Tinseltown is that the Cambridge homey will star as Robert F. Kennedy in a biopic about the slain senator.
The Dennis Lehane novel on which “Shutter Island” is based takes place in Massachusetts, and the film was shot almost entirely in the Bay State. “We looked at Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island — searching for incentives so we would get a bang for the buck,” says location manager Robin Citrin. “Massachusetts had good ones, plus a lot of abandoned mental hospitals, some of them with incredible architecture.”
This film presence can offer a myriad of options to VES graduates like Horovitz who decide to remain in the area. Upon graduating, Horovitz became the first Teaching Fellow of VES 50: Fundamentals of Filmmaking. But due to the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit luring major studios to shoot in Boston, he also has had the opportunity to work on commercial film. “It’s great,” said Horowitz. “I’ve TA-ed here, and on Fridays I’ll PA [work as a Production Assistant] on a hundred-million-dollar movie.”
Massachusetts-made SHUTTER ISLAND is the number one movie in America.