An Update on the Budget: Conferees Named today that will reconcile the Senate and House Budgets

A State Capitol brief today announced “There were no surprises Thursday as the House and Senate named six members to come up with a consensus state budget. The budget, which is due by July 1, will be hashed out by a conference committee chaired by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Brian Dempsey of Haverhill and Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka of Ashland. They will be joined by Ways and Means vice chairs Rep. Stephen Kulik of Worthington and Sen. Sal DiDomenico of Everett. Sen. Vinny deMacedo of Plymouth and Rep. Todd Smola of Warren will serve as Republican conference members.

This committee will decide to keep or not keep Senate Amendment #38 in the 2018 Fiscal Budget. The amendment literally guts our Massachusetts Film Tax Credits. Along with us, Hollywood will be watching this committee and its final say about Senate Amendment #38.

We have to keep our fingers crossed and no matter the results of this conferencing committee, we need to acknowledge that we have much work ahead of us on Beacon Hill.

For more information, read this month’s Take Two here on Imaginenews.com

My best regards,

Carol Patton

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A Retrospective from the Publisher’s Letters Over the Early Years

When I first considered the concept and created IMAGINE Magazine in 1998, I meant for it to be an example of what could work for the production community in New England as we knew it at the time, to connect the dots and champion the industry and the people who work in it. I believed it would be regarded as needed and I believed
it would be successful. I didn’t believe I would be its publisher for all these years. I was certain accomplished publishers and editors would emerge to lead an industry magazine that clearly, in my estimation, had a future, meaning both the industry and the magazine. Initially, my personal efforts, in part, were dedicated to providing some financial underpinning for the then media group called the Mass Media Alliance (MMA) and I spelled imagine to reflect that iMMAgine. Some still refer to IMAGINE that way.

In my first Take Two, my Letter from the Publisher, I began with the idea that things really are as we imagine them to be, and that imagination is the most powerful tool of creativity. And that we tend to forget that the life we make for ourselves and
for the world is shaped and limited only by the perimeters of our imagination. And so, I said, we need to be educated in imagination…. We…can help with the ongoing education in imagination by creating complex images and engaging stories for the theaters of the mind and the edification of the soul, and by resisting temptation to be merely clever or technically effective.

Maureen Foley, Director of AMERICAN WAKE and
Actor/Activist Alec Baldwin attending reception
for the film during the 2004 Democratic National
Convention in Boston. Photo by Robert Pushkar.
Alec Baldwin was on the cover of the very first issue. It was an outsized newsmagazine consisting of twenty pages. He would appear on another cover of IMAGINE in 2004 when in Boston for the hosting of a party celebrating Maureen Foley’s premiere of HOME BEFORE DARK and attending that year’s Democratic National Convention. Baldwin subscribes to IMAGINE to this day and has sent me notes over the years about what he likes and calls about what he doesn’t. There are advertisers that were in that first edition that are still advertising with IMAGINE in our 200th

I remember hearing from well-intentioned members of the community that others had attempted launching similar publications in the past only to succumb in their very first year of publication. So, I was determined to make it to our first anniversary, which we did and celebrated at the House of Blues when it was still in Harvard Square. Christy Scott Cashman was on IMAGINE’s first Holiday Cover and she’s been on the cover of our holiday edition ever since. It’s easy to explain that decision, ask me.

“As you sow, so shall you reap,” We always attract into our lives whatever we think about
most, believe in most strongly, expect on the deepest level, and imagine most vividly. Consciously having an idea or thought and holding it in our mind is a process that tends to attract and create that form on the highest material plane. There you have the process, as I see it, that has produced…, a whole year of the magazine. We did believe it before we could see it. And it happened. Now it is time to celebrate and remember what we have done.

I wrote, “We wanted to put balloons, confetti and champagne inside each issue for each of
you. Needless to say, we couldn’t figure out how to keep them from falling out before they got to you. It’s the thought that counts! And we are definitely, deliciously and deliriously thinking of you, our precious readers, advertisers and our vendor support team. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for a wonderful year!”

I wanted IMAGINE to be a clear and strong voice for the industry. I mustered up my courage and suggested that this magazine would be a clear and strong voice for the industry it represents. I asked that, “We imagine New England celebrated the world over for its abundance of creative talent (it is educated and mentored here), its desirable locations (they’re here everywhere), its user-friendly labor pool (here), its cost effective and award winning production capabilities (still imagining some of this infrastructure, seeing works in progress).”

My letter to the Massachusetts Legislature
I remember writing, “Imagine all that and a financial community to support and invest in
it. Together, we can make it happen!” Exactly one-year later we began “together” with Local Sightings and with the support of others, New England’s first film investment forum.

The Forum also sounded the alarm that economic expansion and its benefits to our region will not develop, will continue to erode, unless and until we identify, nurture and grow a New England based investment community that supports our creative resources and processes. Otherwise, they and their profit potential for our region, our promise of economic expansion, along with our vested interest, will move to New York, London, Dublin or LA. And, then we can read about how well they are doing someplaceelse. Our states might miss all those taxes paid to other states.

The list of evacuees is endless, I wrote at the time. Yes, we’re proud of them, but we want them back. Here is just a few recent cases in point: Brad Anderson (gone to New York), Brad Jacques (left in January for LA), Glenn Phillips (NY and then to LA, read about him in WWW), Coni Perry (NY), Allen Piper is next. Yankee ingenuity must unleash its imagination; there’s much to tackle here! We (speaking regionally) invest in technology, guard it carefully, when we do share it, we make significant returns on
our investments and guardianship. Take Avid as an example. What can we learn here? Does
anybody get the picture? The red flag is out.

And with that, we began our second year and bravely soon after entered the new millennium. We endured that some or all computers may crash turning over from 1999 to 2000 and other anomalies. But we were gathering momentum and pretty much on a roll. Advertising sales were good and readership was growing fast.

Then, the unthinkable, 9/11/2001. The following year was dreadful. Politics were erratic and a year later we were all still weary. I wrote for our September 2002 edition: “This
month holds the first anniversary of our grief as a Nation after the terrorist attacks on our Country. A year later Ground Zero has been cleaned, the funerals have ended, and we’ve struggled with our rage and denial. I’m still mad. I can find no distraction from it. September 11 called all of us in an individual way that will serve to change us
as a people more than any other event in our lifetimes and beyond.”

The dramatic impact on our industry from September 11 ranges from an economic one,
to one of artistic expression and content considerations. While most of us have struggled
with the financial realities of the time includingreduced budgets to no budgets, the summer of 2002 boasts the largest box office bonanza in its history having sold $3.16 billion worth of movie tickets over this critical season. What can we make of it? Mostly, I believe, that epic and upbeat efforts sell well in times like these, when our spirits need a lift. The concept that we are a recession proof industry was manifest.

Most of us have to answer for ourselves the question, “What shall we do with our grief?”
In the midst of pain and suffering, thousands of Americans have reached out to help those whose lives will be forever emptied of a loved one. Most of us are honoring our grief, still grieving in our own time and special way; and most of us are coming back to life, truly tested after being horribly blindsided.

In 2002, July 26th IMAGINE marked the closing of the Mass Film Office amidst the speculation that it was purely machinations and not at all the fallout of across the board budget cuts for the Commonwealth. The office closure was most untimely in light of Malpaso Productions’ decision to locate MYSTIC RIVER in Boston where Dennis Lehane’s story is set. IMAGINE had Clint Eastwood on the cover and we got his only local interview.

I have two items to address with our readers here as a result of this untimely and unpredictable closing of the Massachusetts Film Office.

Our industry had absolutely no political clout on Beacon Hill (remember this was 2002), to save a vital function and outreach of our industry that as the Hub, actually serves all of New England. It was not a matter that we didn’t have enough clout; it’s a matter that we had no clout, none at all.

Representatives Wallace and Coughlin out of the Red Sox dugout, getting ready to step up to the plate on the set of FEVER PITCH at Fenway Park. Photo by Claire Folger.
So that we as an industry don’t get caught powerless in the future, it is time to identify and help elect lawmakers that will support and endorse our industry, not only for a film office, but also in support of tax relief, tax incentives, and other industry enhancing matters like a public/private film fund that will encourage independent production. This will take time, money, and effort, but it is imperative that we get started now. A good candidate’s party affiliation is not so important to this effort. It’s the candidate’s mind set, understanding of the industry and its needs, and the candidate’s willingness to stick up for us. Other industries do it with matter-of-fact successes. We can too.

Bobby Farrelly, who testified at Rhode Islands
Film Incentive hearing and publisher Carol Patton
discuss the need for incentive legislation in New
England. An IMAGINE Photo.
To that end, in this issue, IMAGINE has identified candidate Brian P. Wallace. Read about him in this issue in FOR YOUR PRIMARY CONSIDERATION. He is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for a House seat in South Boston. He’s one of us, a writer with a big film coming up in Boston. He needs our help to win the nomination. There is no incumbent nor is there opposition in the general election. So the chances for Brian are good. Vote if you can, contribute if you can! Money is good, but so is effort. As we identify other viable candidates, I’ll let you know….

And with that, IMAGINE took on its political nature in September 2002.

n March of 2003 Massachusetts was one of only wo states in the United States that did not have film office. I wrote:

Massachusetts with its mysterious coastlines, sparkling seafront villages and towns, beautiful Berkshires, evocative Freedom Trail for its architecture and history, institutions of higher learning, technology and inventiveness the whole world would die to possess, as many seasons as any location could hope for, an International Airport in its hub city, is still without a film office. Yet, this great State from a Hollywood point of view has literally crawled up to the curb and said, “no thank you, we don’t want millions of dollars for our economy from a non-polluting cash cow of an industry that could make us popular, famous and attractive to more people and dollars for our State Treasury. We don’t want revenues to balance the budget, nor do we want a tax based economic development initiative, putting talented and creative citizens (writers, directors, producers, technical and creative artists) to work rather than their moving to New York or California to find opportunity to pay their taxes.

I have to ask, where is the vision? I’ve got to ask, who will come to a place with such few marketing and outreach skills? And, who will stay here to create, invent, work and export when we have no “device” to accommodate them? Who do they call? There has been no answer for over six months. The pipeline is almost empty.

It’s imperative to connect with the people that can make House Bill 303 a reality. Look it up on the Internet (it hasn’t been printed yet), let your Senator and Representative know that you expect their support, send them an email, letter, or fax. Let Governor Romney know that this is a tax-based economic development issue that he cannot afford to overlook or ignore. We want the work. And, if Governor Romney wants the revenue for the Commonwealth, he has a legion of the best educated, most talented, savvy, creative, highly technical, productive human beings on the planet at his service.

… .Could 48 other States in the U.S., 300 Countries and Cities in the World who have government supported film offices and commissions that vie daily for the business, be wrong? I believe not.

The industry as a whole in Massachusetts has never been effectively organized, there are
scores of groups, organizations, institutions, businesses, and individuals that make us up and we can come together on this important and vital issue. We can work for House Bill 303 and we can work to get our State Film Office reconstituted.

This month, I don’t want to consider how difficult the economy is, that talented people are drifting away or working elsewhere, that many industry businesses are struggling, or that last year the Mass Film Office and the Providence Film Officeclosed (both involving legal wrangling). I need a respite.

Then in 2004 the Democratic National Convention came to Boston. I wrote for in our August issue: Having a political convention in town livens us all up, perhaps not all of us for
the same reasons. While thinking of our nation and what we stand for, I am reminded of this quote from Benjamin Franklin. He said, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” Okay, respite over.

Although the industry had been lamenting the woes of runaway productions as an industry nemesis, three years of economic and terrorism woes, Ben Affleck spoke out about Runaway productions, the MPAA also lamented and IMAGINE paid attention.

The US declining rate of growth of the film production industry due to an “outsourcing of
the work” incentivized by countries like Canada and enabled or ignored by our cities, states and federal governments can and must be shored up. During the DNC, Ben Affleck spoke of the trade benefit the entertainment industry brings. “It’s our single-biggest export and our last great industry that’s still here,” Affleck said. “Runaway production is a huge deal.” It’s criminal,” Affleck said of the studios’ decisions to make more and
more movies and TV shows in Canada and other countries. “It makes me sick….”

Like Affleck, Alec Baldwin told me that he would return to Boston to assist our independent filmmaking community in our continuing efforts to encourage our Administration and Legislature to enact HB 303 and accompanying legislation.

Alec Baldwin was in Boston as a Democratic activist and supporter of environmental preservation, government support for the arts, campaign finance reform and gun control, and to celebrate John Kerry and to introduce Maureen’s wonderful new film AMERICAN WAKE. Alec is also a great champion of independent filmmakers. Can you believe we had two Academy Award winners in the room and Alec although nominated for THE COOLER and winner of a number of other awards, wasn’t one of them (Chris Cooper and Michael Williams)! Alec Baldwin is again on the cover, this time along with Maureen Foley.

I began to study all the incentive programs available at that time around the world and
here in the U.S. Then in October 2004 I wrote the definitive piece of the time in IMAGINE, Incentives That Work Take Work. In it I outlined the many ways to incentivize our film industry. Governor Romney’s office called for copies.

That summer FEVER PITCH created excitement in Boston even though it was filmed in Toronto
for Boston, It was good to have FEVER PITCH shoot 9-10 days in Boston. Originally planned for only two days in Boston, many locals and state elected officials band together to make enough happen to at least extend their stay. The Directors, Bobby and Peter Farrelly, wanted to shoot the full 50-day schedule in Boston because that is
where the film is set. (Boston Red Sox home field Fenway Park). Toronto won 40 days saving the studio $100,000 per day. I’m still scratching my head wondering why Boston and Massachusetts couldn’t come close enough to those savings to tip the scale in our favor, at least for 50% of the schedule or 25 of the 50 days.

A proactive film office dedicated to the outreach and bringing in the business could have done better. IMAGINE spent time on the set with Representatives Brian Wallace and Robert Coughlin. Spending time in the Red Sox dugout, there was no doubt where their loyalties lie. Wallace and other important state and local officials were instrumental in cost saving devices that enabled the extra shooting time in the Commonwealth.

That experience turned heads, peaked curiosities about the benefits of film tax incentives, and our Governor and Legislators began to see the significance of our movement and the need for a film office and an interest in examining film tax credits. IMAGINE had been in business for nearly seven years at this juncture.

Our October cover reflects the light on the faces of some of the “key” elected officials who are ready to open the gates for filmmakers in Massachusetts. After two years of marketplace confusion in the state we are fortunate to have such supporters, and judging by the number of other elected officials who stopped by to say hello, they are not alone. Our cover includes State House Leadership Majority Whip, Representative Thomas Petrolati, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Commerce and Labor Senator Jack Hart and Representatives Jennifer Callahan, Brian Wallace and Robert Coughlin.

On December 1, 2004 Representatives Thomas J. O’Brien of Kingston, Brian P. Wallace of South Boston (who filed HB 303), and James B. Leary of Worcester filed their petition for PROVIDING INCENTIVES TO THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY. House Docket 1428 spells out relief
for motion picture production companies from the payment of state sales and use taxes,
employment tax credits, and cost free use of state owned property. The proposed legislation appears to follow some of the guidelines of the Louisiana model and designates that the commissioner of the Department of Revenue shall promulgate rules for the implementation of the tax advantages. Productions will be required to designate a member, or representative, of the motion picture production company to work with the Executive Office (Secretary of Economic Development) and the Department of Revenue on the reporting of expenditures and other information necessary to take advantage of the tax benefits. It’s a great place to start the process!

I have observed support for incentives in the Governor’s Office and in the State Legislature. We have also noticed that the industry’s interest in such matters is growing as we see the industry standing up for itself, posturing to be heard. Finish Editorial’s Don Packer and Element’s Eran Lobel attended the Governor’s Holiday Gala to make their views known, for example. IMAGINE also attended.

Lest we get the “cart before the horse” in Massachusetts, which is what it would be if we
had an incentive bill pass without an officially and clearly designated, underpinned, and
sanctioned state film office, let’s get that part established.

The State Legislature has made it perfectly clear that the Massachusetts Sports & Entertainment Commission (read “Opening Doors for Film in Massachusetts” by Laura Bernieri on page 23) is the place for one-stop-shopping. The Governor and the Legislature have approved an additional $200,000 dollars (budget now totals $450,000) for that office to tackle these responsibilities.

Granted it wasn’t the perfect solution from my point of view, but it’s what we got and we made the best of it. The icing on the cake is that a Film Incentive Tax Credit program passed in the very next legislative session…. It’s interesting to note that IMAGINE is the only regional industry trade magazine of its type in the country. Please continue to support it. It’s more than a magazine. It’s been a movement since 1998.

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About our 200th Issue

We have two icons on our cover. Both are musicians. One plays the harmonica and one plays the Saxophone. They are natural born music brothers, but, the first time they played together was for the celebration of IMAGINE Magazine’s 200th Edition and our 19th Birthday Celebration.

When blues legend James Montgomery plays the harmonica, he “brings it on home”. Whether it’s recording with Kid Rock, sitting in with Gregg Allman, or fronting his hot band of thirty years, Montgomery plays with authority. While growing up in Detroit he learned first-hand from the masters – James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, and Jr. Wells – at the legendary “Chessmate.” Over the years, he’s carried on in the tradition and continues to be a vital presence in Blues as one of the most dynamic performers on the scene. And he
belongs to us – New Englanders and we see him as one of the most generous and supportive famous people in our region.

In addition to playing a mean Saxophone, Don Packer is the Senior Editor and Coowner
of Engine Room, Brewhouse VFX and Conductor Productions. He is also a past President of the Massachusetts Production Coalition and a current member of its board. We see him as one of IMAGINE’s and our industry’s most avid supporters. In IMAGINE’s early years of getting Film Tax Credits into the legislative consciousness and then passed in Massachusetts, he would take the time to visit the State House with us to call on our legislators and explain what our industry had to offer the Commonwealth. He was also there from the beginning to support key legislators directly at events in their honor.

Mixing Don Packer and James Montgomery for this celebration was brilliant. We shot our cover photo in the Flag Building on Berkeley Street where Don Packer’s industry businesses reside. It is a beautiful building with a great history and seemed perfect for this photo assignment.

Our cover photo was captured by Carolyn Ross of Carolyn Ross Photography. And our Cover design is by IMAGINE’s Design Editor Monique Walton.

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PARTY TIME!

It just couldn’t come at a better time than this to “champion” our industry and continue to get the word out. We want you to help us usher in the 200th edition of IMAGINE. Plus we are celebrating IMAGINE’s 19th Birthday! We promise an evening of networking, great music, fun, fabulous food and spirited libations at Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 9th, 6 – 9pm
WHERE: At Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen in Boston
WHO: FEATURING The Legendary James Montgomery & His Band +1, Don Packer, on SAX

Just imagine the James Montgomery brand of blues featuring our very own Don Packer (one of our industry’s greatest editors & former MPC President) on SAX. I can vouch for the food as Darryl catered an IMAGINE House Party at the Nantucket Film Festival to rave revues. And Don just rocks!

Photos from this event will be in our 200th edition.
So we want to see you there and in IMAGNE’s 200th!

All this for $49.95 – The price of an IMAGINE Subscription. If you already have a subscription, you can give it as a gift or sponsor a subscription for an LA studio decision-maker. It’s the gift that keeps giving and promoting our industry to all those who can bring work here for everyone.

Plus, you’ll be helping us pay for IMAGINE’s presence at both AFCI’s Locations Show in LA and NAB in Las Vegas. Shipping IMAGINE is a heavy lift and your support for this important outreach is greatly appreciated. That’s IMAGINE, more than a magazine, it’s a movement dedicated to bringing movie and commercial work here.

This party will sell out so make your reservation here now: www.imaginenews.com/subscribe.
And thank you so much. I can’t wait to see you!

My very best,
Carol Patton, Publisher

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Boston International Film Festival

By George Weinstein

Towering behind the Boston International Film Festival (BIFF) is a man of average height, better than average intelligence and a beautiful smile.

Patrick Jerome is the Founder and Organizer to this day of the BIFF, which opens for the fifteenth time with its traditional Red Carpet photo-op extravaganza in front of the Loews Boston Common Theater on April 13, 2017. Though the BIFF runs through April 27, 2017, the Red Carpet event encapsulates what the BIFF is all about. Indie filmmakers from Roxbury, MA to Iran get their moment in the sun (camera flashguns) in front of a BIFF back drop.

It all began for Patrick Jerome in Haiti where he was born. It was there that he first saw motion pictures and knew then that making movies was his destiny. After leaving a volatile political climate in Haiti, Patrick finally settled in Boston and is now a U.S. citizen. It was here that he became aware of a lack in the local cinema scene of a perspective on international films.

He presented his idea of a Boston International Film Festival first to then Boston Mayor Thomas Menino who gave Patrick an enthusiastically positive response. From there it was a relatively smooth sailing through the required hoops of Boston bureaucracy.

BIFF begins April 13th and runs through April 27th. Their opening night will be THE LOST CITY OF Z from the writer and director James Gray (THE IMMIGRANT, TWO LOVERS), who will be present). The film, being distributed by Amazon Studios and Bleeker Street, stars Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland and Angus Macfadyen. Brad Pitt is the Executive Producer.

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Jan Waldman: Host of Entertainment Plus

Actor Jan Waldman was a guest at a small TV station in New Hampshire in 2015. After her appearance as a guest, she was invited to be the show’s new host. And why wouldn’t they as Jan is curious and curious people ask really good questions. She is also outgoing, bright and beautiful and has a very nice smile. “I jumped at the chance,” she said, “since it has always been my dream to work in this field. After
completing thirteen episodes and driving a great distance every week, I thought ‘why not check out a closer Public Access TV station’?’’

TV Host of Entertainment Plus, Jan Waldman with Kim Cutler, Executive
Director of Myopia Horse Show. Photo courtesy of Jan Waldman.

SATV in Salem, Massachusetts became her new station and its ProductionManager, Steve Spencer, became her new partner. In January the pair celebrated its first year.

Jan told IMAGINE, “In one year, Steve and I have filmed sixteen spots in the field and on set putting together eleven episodes of Entertainment Plus to date. We run the gamut on the type of shows we produce from actors to polo ponies, to rum manufacturers.

“Steve and I are the producers and Steve is the editor and cameraman for each shoot. My preparation begins with extensive research, googling, reading and watching any available information on my subject as well as any information they provide. I prefer not to do a pre-interview because I believe it takes away from the spontaneity of the interview.

Even with all the preparation, Steve’s editing always saves the day. In particular, one interviewee began every answer with, “No…” It was an editing nightmare but Steve managed to salvage the interview for on air. Our goal is to provide quality Public Access programing that will eventually be picked up across the country at Public Access TV stations which is now happening for Entertainment Plus. Our line-up for the year will continue to be a broad mix of topics that appeal to a wider audience.

Jan’s story exemplifies how one small effort can turn into something important that you’ve wanted to do all your life. And good guests do become TV hosts. Think Jay Leno on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.

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Inside Fox Sports Super Bowl Week 360 All Access

By Carl Hansen

(Publisher’s note: If you’ve studied IMAGINE’s Masthead in our printed and online version, you will have noticed the name Carl Hansen as our Boston Correspondent at Large. He is from Beverly and has been writing for IMAGINE ever since he graduated from college (eighteen years). He now lives in Los Angeles with stints along the way that included Co-Producing Sharks Tank (Emmy Nomination); he is now Director of Production at Fox Sports Original Long Form Programming. Imagine a New Englander with this enviable assignment: covering the greatest come-back ever, Super Bowl LI in virtual reality! This is it, in his own words and you’ve seen it first right here.)

Carl Hansen in front of the convention center in Discovery Green in downtown Houston, TX

Standing on the turf of NRG (pronounced “energy”) Stadium in Houston, Texas, I looked around at 70,000 screaming fans as the Patriots and Falcons competed in historic Super Bowl LI. A week before, I never would have imagined this scenario and knew what a coveted experience it was. As director of production for Fox Sports Original Long Form Programming, I was tasked with producing and overseeing some new content that we’ve just started to try out: documentary virtual reality production.

James White during the Patriots last media availability:

VR or 360 degree storytelling is just starting to emerge in mainstream media. It’s still quite experimental and in some ways feels like I imagine it did in the early days of cinema, when the Lumière Brothers showed the locomotive chugging toward the screen with audiences allegedly ran screaming from the theater. This new, totally-immersive medium really gives 21st Century audiences the opportunity to step into a world that they might not ordinarily have access to, by using their phones, tablets, and ideally VR goggles to view content unlike ever before. It truly feels as if you are where the camera was placed, being able to see up, down, left, right, and even behind you, so don’t be surprised if you jump out of the way if you see a train moving toward you.

Danny Amendola doing press interviews during the last Patriots media availability.

My first time putting on VR goggles was to experience what it was like riding in a Red Bull Air Race plane, feeling as if I was truly flying 250mph through giant inflatable pylons as they do in real competitions. It gave me a sense of what was possible with this new medium, though unable to really see how it could be used narratively. I thought it was much more experiential, and not so much a storytelling device. CLOUDS OVER SIDRA would change all that for me.

Carl Hansen on the field of NRG Stadium before Super Bowl LI.

Attending the Film Independent Forum last October, they had a VR suite where attendees could choose various 360 content to watch. I chose SIDRA because it was a documentary and I wanted to see how this new technology was used in that genre. From the moment I put on the goggles I was transported into a Syrian refugee camp. Narrated by a 12-year-old girl about her year-and-a-half there, it truly let me walk in her shoes and see first-hand the discolored Unicef tent with mattresses on the floor where she and her family slept and the rusty fan in the corner or the concrete soccer pitch in the middle of hundreds of tents with children playing. This was their real life. Only 8-minutes long – about the maximum length of a VR experience without really making your head swim – it was incredibly moving and opened my eyes to the possibilities of virtual reality.

So when my boss approached me with an idea to cover Super Bowl week in VR, I loved the possibilities and jumped at the opportunity. The concept was to produce daily content – about 2-3 minutes in length – and give fans an all-access pass to everything that goes into the lead-up to the Super Bowl and the big game itself. It was going to be me and one talented VR filmmaker, Ismael Corpas Moreno, who would shoot and edit everything. One person doing it all would prove a challenging (though not impossible) workflow, but would allow us to be nimble enough to move quickly and be as inobtrusive as possible.

Michael Strahan on the stage during the trophy presentation post-game

Because Fox televised the game this year and with the presence the company had in Houston on Discovery Green, the ability to get behind-the-scenes footage was truly incredible. We shot everything on Samsung Gear 360 cameras, which are a little larger than a golf ball with 2 lenses on opposite sides.

FS1 alone produced 46 hours of live programming during Super Bowl week and we were able to have a number of our Fox Sports talent help drive the VR experience, from Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock, to Rachel Bonnetta and Joe Buck. We got to go behind-the-scenes for the player profile shoots and the Lady Gaga interview for NFL on FOX’s pregame show. And we were the closest cameras during the Patriots last media availability before the game.

Michael Strahan on the stage during the trophy presentation post-game

And then, of course, the game itself. I stood just outside the tunnel where the Patriots entered the field, the flames from the pyro cannon warming my face as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady ran past me. I wrestled a spot on the sidelines to capture the Patriots first touchdown and stood underneath the goal post as Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal over my head. And to witness the most amazing comeback in any Super Bowl, from the ground level, was truly an epic experience, especially being in the middle of the post game celebration with the confetti landing on my head as Belichick hugged his players directly in front of me. Check out all the vignettes from Super Bowl Week:

Linebacker Elandon Roberts hoisting the trophy on the field of NRG Stadium after the Patriots won Super Bowl LI

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Extras! Read All About Them

By George Weinstein

Assume you were put in charge of finding locations for making movies. Now, just for a minute forget that you are now a very popular person with the locals of everywhere you go scouting in the USA.

Your obligation to your production is to come up with locations that will match up, as best as possible, to the locations evoked in the story/script of the movie. But, and possibly most important, it is your need to see that a possible location is “welcoming” to filmmakers. And, what is most welcome to creators of the project? Ways to bring the movie to completion on or under budget and
on schedule or earlier than scheduled.

These are great and difficult goals, of course. But here in Massachusetts the transformation of our state once known as “Taxachusetts” to Hollywood filmmakers can be thought of differently due in large part to the use of its attractive tax incentives for those who choose to film here.

In this article we visit with several people who might have missed their main chance at acting in feature films alongside top talent such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Christian Bale…the list goes on and on, if it were not for MA Film Tax Credits.

According to Casting Director Danielle Corsa, “Extras help make the human connections in life that need to be made in every scene of every film. Without background extras, we’re no longer dealing within reality…. Background extras add so much in a sense so that viewers can fully connect with where and why a scene is taking place. Depending on the intent of the filmmaker, extras can provide us with a rich insight into where the story may take us.”

Background work in Massachusetts is lucrative business. In 2016, background actors worked over 11,000 days on Massachusetts based productions. SAG – AFTRA background actors earn, on average, $320 per day generating more than $3,520,000 in income.

Frankie Imbergamo

Pink Panther Frankie Imbergamo
You can see Frankie in the background in this cocktail party in PINK PANTHER DEUX. Photo courtesy of Frank Imbergamo.

Actor Frankie Imbergamo has worked in more than forty-five films. It all began for him in 2005 when he entered a cooking contest on the Food Network, “Emeril Live” with Emeril Lagasse. He submitted one of his recipes. Out of 1500 contestants, Frankie was the top winner of the contest. “After that” Frankie says, “the Food Network crew came to film me in the North End of Boston in a butcher shop where I was purchasing the meat to make the gravy (sauce).”

Frankie recalls, “Then they came to my home in Medford, MA and filmed me making my recipe.” Two weeks later he was flown to the Food Network Studios in New York City.

“My wife and I were on set and I appeared on live National TV with Emeril and the other three winners – I was the top winner. I received some calls from Boston Casting after that and that is how my acting career started,” says Frankie. Being on TV, he joined AFTRA.

“My first movie to work in as an Extra was a movie called STIFFS (IMAGINE August 2009) with Danny Aiello. I played a mourner at a funeral. I was in a scene with Danny Aiello and I am walking in the funeral parlor and Danny Aiello shakes my hand and says “I’m sorry for your loss.” And in another scene I was kneeling at the coffin at the wake.”

“It was an exciting experience to interact with a well-known actor and being on set with several actors working in the movie STIFFS. You can say I got the bug for acting. I then loved the business and I went to acting school at the New England Models Group in Manchester, New Hampshire and was trained by Tom Logan, a Hollywood director and acting coach.”

Frankie adds, “Being an extra influenced me by giving me a start in the business. I have read a lot of actors started off as extras and became big stars. I feel like I got the proper training and got to know the business by starting off as an extra now I get featured roles, principal roles – known as a Day Player.” Day Players make an average of $1,000 per day plus residuals which are paid ad infinitum. Since 2010, the number of day players hired in Massachusetts based productions has gone up from 74 to 409.

Since STIFFS, Frankie has appeared in forty five films, among them KNIGHT AND DAY, TED, RIPD, AMERICAN HUSTLE, JOY, GHOSTBUSTERS, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA and PATRIOTS DAY.

“I was involved in an Indie film, directed by Mathew Fisher, a movie called DJ STAN DA MA. I was one of the lead actors and I also became one of its producers. We premiered to a packed house last June at the Arlington Regent Theatre. The movie is now going to film festivals in the spring of 2017. I am also involved in a comedy web series called Pizzer Makers. It’s the longest running web series in
New England and we are currently scheduled for filming episode number twelve in March 2017. I am the lead actor and it can be seen at youtube.com/pizzermakers.

Elaine Victoria Grey

SAG Actor Elaine Grey’s work as an Extra, brought
her a Principal speaking role as a featured Nurse,
in the film TINA (2016), directed by Terence Hayes, starring Robert Wahlberg. Photo by Anthony Pelton

Actor Elaine Victoria Grey knew that she wanted to become an actress since she was twelve years old. That’s when Elaine says she wrote a letter to Paramount studios, “to inquire how I should go about getting into the business. At that time I was living in Cambridge, MA and was enrolled in Catholic
school. At the time the movie house was in Central Square, and we would walk to the theatre every Saturday afternoon to watch films on the big screen.

After growing up, her field of study, while enrolled as a Candidate at Harvard University’s Extension Studies (1997-2006) was in Dramatic Arts. Every Semester, along with her requirements, She took classes in Acting, Directing, Shakespeare, and the History of Musical Theatre.

“After my Harvard graduation in 2006, I began sending headshots and my resume out to Casting Directors,” Elaine remembers. “The first Hollywood feature film, that I performed in as an extra, was Adam Sandler’s Comedy, THAT’S MY BOY.

“I remember when I received my first call. I was home one evening, when the phone rang, and the person on the other end of the line told me, that they were calling from Hollywood, and asked if I was available to work on this comedy film. I was very fortunate, because I was chosen for two scenes. The first scene was outside a bowling alley where I was to play a wife and mother of two teen children. Then, everyone was sent home, except for thirteen of us who were chosen to work overnight at an old fashioned diner in Lynn, MA. We worked directly with Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Vanilla Ice.

”My scene was pivotal, and I was highly featured in the film and in the trailer. This was very exciting for me, and it spurred me on to continue in the business. Since then, I have worked on over thirty feature films, and I am now beginning to obtain principal roles.

“The first thing I learned about being an extra is that it is how many a famous actor started out in the business. Being an extra has taught me many valuable lessons. I always watched, listened and learned. There is so much to see and hear while on set. It is how you pick up knowledge about the business of acting. Quickly, I realized how important it to stay on your “mark,” and to follow directions. You will be remembered for your consistency. I can’t emphasize, enough, how important this attribute will become as you build your acting career.

“Also, and of equal importance is my Girl Scout (Boy Scout) motto, ‘Always be prepared.’ Immediately, when I get the booking, I print out the information and begin to prepare for my role. I learned from years of sitting with hair and makeup and wardrobe that it is imperative that you arrive on set, on time, ‘ready to go’ and precisely as described to you in your instructions. I always bring extra with
me, just in case. “I make sure that I have an updated resume and my headshots on hand, so when I am
asked for them, they are ready.

“The first thing I do, when I receive a casting notice, is my research. I like to know everything I can about the film, and about the cast, the crew and the production. It helps me to prepare for my role. Acting classes and workshops help me to hone my craft, while I learn more about how I can improve and grow as an actor.

Zafir Latessa

Zafir Latessa headshot. Photo courtesy of IMDBpro.

In her words:

“Shortly before turning twenty two, I had dreams of moving to New York City in order to pursue acting. However, my life went in a completely different direction. Fast forward nine years later, during that time for which I became a wife, a mother of three, and was living in the suburbs, far removed from city life, by that time, it was the farthest from my mind.”

“I was the assistant office manager at a health food store, and would sometimes cover the registers on the weekends. One day I happened to be on the register and a good friend of mine, who was a casting director for Boston Casting, mentioned that she was in need of extras for an upcoming John Travolta movie, THE FORGER that was being filmed locally. Jokingly I said, ‘Hey, I’d love to do it. I can be a tree or whatever you need me to be!’ She jumped at my offer and said to wait for details to be sent. I was so nervous not knowing what being an extra entailed, but I’ll tell you what, it was such an amazing first experience on a set, and it reignited my passion for acting.

On the Set of CAPED CRUSADER: THE DARK
HOURS. Photo courtesy of IMDBpro.

“Some people don’t acknowledge being an extra as acting, but without extras, the scene would not be complete. After my experiences as an extra, I never watch movies the same anymore. I’m always looking to see what’s going on in the background. And it’s always fun to spot yourself on the big screen. I went on to do many films, but can be seen in Olive Kitteridge, American Odyssey, TED 2, Orange
is the New Black, and JOY.

“I’m content with being an extra, because it allows me to still get the experience of being on a set, however, it has influenced me to push myself to audition for other roles. It has been such an amazing journey that has allowed me to become SAG eligible, which is not always a guarantee, and for that I am grateful!”

Peter Morse

Drill Sergeant Lowry, Short Film, HOME (supporting)
2014 / Addressing the recruits in the barrack

Peter Morse, according to IMDBpro, is an actor, director, location scout, and also has worked as a stand-in/photo double. He portrayed Albert DeSalvo in the most watched two-hour movie on Discovery ID; CONFESSIONS OF THE BOSTON STRANGLER. Peter was nominated by New England Actors for a Speaking-Role in an Award-Winning Film/TV Project; BLACK MASS. He also is an award nominated actor for the web series Family Problems and has had numerous leading and supporting roles in independent films. Peter’s diverse look allows him to play many different roles.

He began his career, “By a fluke,” according to Peter. “I started acting in plays while attending
Saint Mary’s in Providence where I grew up. I kind of caught the bug then, but was unclear what
it was or how to pursue it.

His first experience as an actor was LAST ACTION HERO. He says, “It was incredibly awesome. I didn’t know what to expect being on a closed set in Times Square with hundreds of people. When I start something that I enjoy, I never settle for the minimum. I always want to get more out of it. Networking is how I got to where I am today.”

Peter Morse in a principal role as Albert Desalvo in a
2-hour Discovery ID movie: CONFESSIONS OF THE
BOSTON STRANGLER. Albert Desalvo defended
himself in court. A Northern Light Productions.

Peter has appeared in more than thirty titles including SPOTLIGHT, BLACK MASS, THE FINEST HOURS, THE JUDGE and THE COMPANY MEN, just to name a few.

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