The Importance and Impact of Film Tax Credits

By Carol Patton

Late last year I hosted a panel at the Media Resource Expo in Danvers, Massachusetts at the annual Media Resource Expo with extraordinary panelists Representative Ann- Margaret Ferrante, Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative Executive Director Diane Pearlman and Filmmakers Collaborative Executive Director Laura Azevedo.

Our topic was The Importance of Film Tax Credits and How to Defend Them in 2017. The major take-away from this panel discussion was suggested by Representative Ann- Margaret Ferrante and that is to not wait until the legislative season began to remind our elected legislators and the Governor’s Of ce how important MA Film Tax Credits are to each and every one of us. And to tell our own individual stories.

In December IMAGINE called for a letter writing campaign to begin early in the year doing just that before the Governor gave his State of the Commonwealth Address and before he prepared his budget.

After two years of literally everyone in the industry responding to the Governor’s rst try at eliminating our credits altogether in favor of earned income tax credits for the working poor, and then his second year in of ce trying to limit our credits severely by capping them, no one was quite sure of what to expect this third year. Would he be thinking “third time is a charm” or perhaps realize the merit and strength of the production community. Letters were sent.

Meanwhile, there has been no mention of MA Film Tax Credits in the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth address, nor are our Film Tax Credits mentioned in the Governor’s proposed budget.

certified cleaning company film set cleaners MA
Tom Derian, President of Certified Cleaning at Film Set Day. His poster says it all. An IMAGINE Photo.

In our industry’s favor on February 16, 2017 the Massachusetts Production Coalition (MPC) sponsored “Film Set Day” in the Great Hall of the MA State House for the express purpose of recreating the execution of a major motion picture production from pre-production, scouting locations, set construction, set decoration, art and costume departments, casting, stunts, shooting, crew, catering, stages and staging, all the way to post-production and special effects. This process effectively demonstrated to legislators and their staff the entire process and showed how many ancillary businesses and tradesmen are actually essential to the business. Yes, everything from lumber and paint companies to talent trailers, mobile restrooms and waste management.

Many new jobs and businesses have incubated in Massachusetts since we passed lm tax credits in 2005; there were no catering companies in the state that catered to motion picture sets. Productions brought their caterers in from LA and New York – these huge trailers that could house their operations and feed the crews two meals a day. This practice greatly increased production costs. That production need alone created both challenge and opportunity for local caterers to create on set catering businesses for themselves.

On Film Set Day, Dolce Catering fed the legislators and their staffs as if they were on the set of a major motion picture. Later I spoke to Jessica Halloran of Dolce Catering. She was there, ‘It was a great event and awesome turnout supporting the industry,” she enthusiastically said.

“The Film Tax Credits are vital to sustain and grow the production industry in Massachusetts. It’s reassuring to meet legislators that support them and comprehend the development process necessary to establish a new industry in the Commonwealth. It’s important to businesses like Dolce Catering to know that there are people on our side interested in establishing the production industry as a permanent xture and source of revenue like it is in New York City. As you’ve seen here today, we have the resources to make that happen.”

Terie Michon
Cape Cod Real Estate Broker, Terie Michon
combines her vast knowledge of the Cape and
her love of film to create MakeAMovieHere.com, a concierge services company for studios, major producers and independent filmmakers. Photo courtesy of Terie Michon.

Terie Michon, who is a longtime resident and realtor on Cape Cod, is transferring her knowledge and expertise into a “concierge” service for the beautiful area she lives in, which she happens to know like that back of her hand. Her “MakeAMovieHere.com” offers studios, major producers and independent filmmakers Transportation-Air, Land or Sea; Location Scouting, Location Negotiation and Acquisition; Permitting; Accommodations for cast and crew, as well as catering, marine services for large and small vessels (including Captains and Crew), Cleaning/Housekeeping, Nannies and Child Care, Lawn/Landscaping, Hauling, Masonry, Painting, Carpentry – if you need it on The Cape, Terie will arrange it for you.

There are big time beneficiaries of production industry, too, like the transportation and accommodations sector. The state of Massachusetts prospers when studio Films are on location in the area, and the benefits touch a wide range of businesses and organizations. Within this is the luxury hospitality industry, showing a significant growth in the entertainment segment following the initiation of the film tax incentive in the state. Four Seasons Boston, the premiere luxury hotel in the city, spoke with IMAGINE about the beneficial impact the tax incentive has had on their business specifically.

Four Seasons Boston Presidential Suite

Four Seasons Boston MA
Four Seasons Boston Director of Sales Jason Bossenberry. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Boston.

Director of Sales at Four Seasons Boston, Jason Bossenberry, shared that the entertainment segment of business received at his Hotel has increased by more than 90% over the past several years. Though this is not all related to lm (music and sports also fall within this sector), a signi cant portion of the increase can be assigned to feature film production.

Four Seasons maintains a strict code of confidentiality for their guests, creating a particularly attractive environment for high pro le individuals in the industry. “As a luxury hotel, we often have an opportunity to host the Talent, Directors, and Producers for long term stays,” says Bossenberry. “We operate with the highest levels of discretion, which is attractive for these individuals while they’re in town. We also have seventy-seven Suites, significantly more than most properties, allowing us to guarantee a larger, luxury environment and make guests feel like they have a true home away from home during their time in Boston.”

Even Entertainment Attorneys get more work. Elaine Rogers, Entertainment Attorney at Meister, Seelig & Fein LLP says, “I represent Jeff Bauman (Boston Marathon survivor and double amputee) with regards to his book “Stronger” and option/purchase of the book rights for the upcoming Lionsgate movie STRONGER starring Jake Gyllenhaal which was lmed in the Commonwealth. I have found that this lm and other productions coming to the Commonwealth have provided additional opportunities for local talent. From my perspective, the attractive tax incentives have certainly contributed to the increase in entertainment business here in the Commonwealth.

Noah Lydiard, Conductor Productions co- owner and executive producer adds, “We are seeing more commercial and lm work come in from out of state since the addition of the tax credit. We’re pulling in jobs from California and New York. At least part of the reason they are here is our ability to keep our prices competitive by utilizing the tax credit. These are jobs that might not be here otherwise.”

Perhaps the Governor has noted that in ten years Massachusetts has hosted 170 Major Productions, which have been shot in 190 cities and towns spending more than $2 billion in our state while creating 14,500 new jobs with an average salary of $67,000.

Perhaps someone told him that in 2016 background artists, known as Extras, worked over 11,000 days on Massachusetts based productions averaging $320 a day and that Day Players, actors with speaking lines, had their best year ever. Over 400 were hired at $1000 per day. And there will be residuals paid in perpetuity – paying taxes to the Commonwealth in perpetuity.

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante offered this comment to IMAGINE, “I am encouraged that Governor Baker has relented in his efforts to eliminate the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit. Numerous initiatives and brie ngs have done an effective job explaining the bene ts of the Film Tax Credit, such as job creation and support for so many small businesses,”
Our economic engine is roaring.

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Karen Allen’s “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud” to Have World Premier at Manchester International Film Festival

Worldwide Premiere of the short film “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” at the Manchester International Film Festival Adapted and Directed by Award-Winning Actor Karen Allen

A Tree A Rock A Cloud
The Boy played by newcomer Jackson Smith, at the counter with the mill workers, William Galatis, Terry Holland, Chip Rybak.
Award-winning actor, theatrical director, and writer, Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Animal House, Starman, The Glass Menagerie, The Perfect Storm, Year By the Sea), has directed her first film based on the Carson McCullers’ short story, “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” The film will have its world premiere at the Manchester International Film Festival on March 5, 2017. Allen will also be a featured speaker on the Women in Independent Cinema Panel taking place at the Festival.

A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud film Karen Allen
The Boy (Jackson Smith) and The Man (Jeff DeMunn) in the Karen Allen short
film, “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” based on the story by Carson McCullers

2017 marks the 100th birthday of renowned author Carson McCullers. Written when she was just 19, “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” is set at a roadside café in the early morning in spring of 1947. A young boy and an older man meet by chance. The man relates a luminous tale of personal heartbreak and loss, and of his hard won understanding of the nature of love.

Karen Allen working with DP Richard Sands

For Allen, the story made a lasting impression many years ago. “I came across this story when I was in my early 20’s. As a young actor I was drawn to Carson McCullers as a playwright and novelist at first, and then began to read everything she’d written that I could get my hands on. ‘A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.’ always loomed large for me among her many short stories; it is a quiet, subtle, mysterious story. It sneaks up on you and has stayed indelibly etched in my imagination all these years.

Jeff DeMunn A Tree A Rock A Cloud

Allen’s film stars veteran actors Jeff DeMunn as The Man (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, TV’s The Walking Dead) and James McMenamin as Leo, the owner of the diner (TV’s Orange is the New Black). Making his film debut is Jackson Smith in the role of the Young Boy.

James McMenamin
Owner of the diner, Leo, played by James McMenamin

To bring the story to life on film, Allen surrounded herself with many established film professionals. Academy Award nominee Kristi Zea was the Production Designer (The Departed, Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Goodfellas, Broadcast News). Cinematographer Richard Sands has designed lighting and/or shot over 35 films and 47 television movies with directors such as Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. He is also the lighting designer for photographer Gregory Crewdson. Producers on the project are Allen’s East Coast Manager, Brian Long, and independent film and visual effects producer, Diane Pearlman. Shooting took place in the bucolic Berkshires hills of western Massachusetts over 6 days. With its natural beauty and perfect interior location, Allen was able to shoot quite near her home and use many of the talented professionals who live and work in the area.

Karen Allen Kristi Zea
Producers Brian Long and Diane Pearlman, Director Karen Allen and Production
Designer Kristi Zea on the 1947 diner set.

The film is currently being submitted to festivals internationally. It will also be shown at celebrations of Carson McCullers’ extraordinary life and writing under the auspices of the Carson McCullers Center at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA, and in the newly acquired McCullers Center in Nyack, NY. Screenings will also be held in NYC and Rome, Italy with educational and literary institutions. Allen hopes to highlight McCullers’ influence on generations of writers, most particularly women in the 20th and 21st centuries. As she sees it, “The story is flooded with the raw, tangible beauty of the natural world, set in contrast to the complex, intangible yearning for love in the characters’ interior worlds. I stayed very close and true to the story Carson McCullers wrote, as I wanted to illuminate in the film the characters she has so beautifully drawn in the pages of this story. I’m thrilled to be bringing this incredibly sensitive and original story to audiences all over the world”

Further information about the film can be found at www.atreearockacloudthefilm.com

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3 Film Festivals in Las Vegas

Sin City, the Gambling Capital of the World, the Entertainment Capital of the World – Las Vegas is known as many things, and with over 22,000 different conventions happening in the city every year, it’s hard not to agree that the city has something for everyone.

In the past, many have held the notion that Vegas was a place suitable only to gamblers, as the Las Vegas Strip is most popular for the rows and rows of high-end casinos to choose from. These days, however, casinos in Vegas have been on the decline, unable to keep up with pressures from both the markets of other regions and the online gambling industry. Vegas has congested to the point that its casinos cannot introduce features such as Macau’s indoor Ferris Wheels and gondola rides, or allow free trials on their games, which Intercasino explains is a major benefit to playing games like blackjack online. Now, the city thrives on festivals and entertainment, and film buffs should be glad to know that Vegas hosts three amazing film festivals that shouldn’t be missed.

lv_film_festival_logo1. Las Vegas Film Festival
For years, the Las Vegas Film Festival (LVFF) has strived to bring together independent filmmakers and professionals from around the world, inspiring audiences as the most creative ideas come to life. This year sees light-hearted films such as “Seoul Searching” and heart-wrenching films such as “Fantasia”, as well as documentaries like “Beats4Tanner”.

001-Viip-0012. Vegas Indie Film Fest!
The Vegas Indie Film Fest! is one of the few festivals dedicated to the independent craft in Vegas, and the event has been voted as among MovieMaker Magazine’s Top Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee. Winners of the various categories each receive a “Golden Bulb” – one of the bulbs used to light up the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign – a perfect symbol of Vegas if there ever was one.

Las-Vegas-Lift-Off-and-Palms-1024x3793. Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival
The Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival is one of several similar festivals taking place all over the world, all with one goal in mind: to launch the professional careers of filmmakers regardless of experience level or connections, and regardless of the budget that went into the film. The Lift-Off Film Festival is also unique in that each filmmaker who submits work to the festival receives bespoke, exclusive content that differs from city to city, from festival to festival.

There are thousands upon thousands of festivals and conventions taking place in Vegas, and any film buff who finds themselves visiting the city should be pleased to know that there is more to do here than just gamble. As the gambling industry continues to evolve and Vegas finds itself shifting its focus towards entertainment, we’ll surely find even more festivals happening in “Sin-e-ma City”!

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Down on the Render Farm

national_gothicSpring has sprung and down on the render farm it’s time for planting.

In the image Jean McCarvill and Dave Allen from National Ministry of Design (NMD) are preparing to plant a few frames on the lower 32. The NMD/National Boston render farm includes more than fifty dedicated computers fitted with quad core Xeon processors. It’s spread over two floors of the National Boston building. The 32 Boxx computers in the picture make up the lower 32. They have their own room and their own air conditioning. Environment is important on the farm.

The render farm computers on both floors are connected to each other and all of its graphics workstations by a separate gigabit Ethernet network. That keeps the render farm separate from any other network traffic. Don’t want those little frames bumping their heads up against a network speed ceiling!

Lots of folks want to know where their food comes from. Do you know where your frames come from? Whether you’re promoting a new jet engine or a new sandwich, you want your information to be secure. Our render farm, with its separate network, keeps everything within the building and out of sight. There is nothing like growing it at home to avert prying eyes!

National Ministry of Design used to send their frames over the internet to a render farm far far away. Sometimes the frames would get damaged in shipment. If a render node  crashed, someone would scream at us from the other side of the country; or maybe the other side of the world. Now, if there is a technical glitch, NMD can nip it in the bud.

With your own farm, you can watch them grow! Creativity is NMD’s “field.” In order to achieve that, you have to break a few eggs along the way. By having a cost effective method to try different things without worrying about per render costs, you open up the opportunity to deliver a much better product. There’s always an opportunity to make changes when new ideas sprout. Then you can sit back and watch them come into full bloom.

Down at the farm stand they boast about “zero food miles.” We like to boast about zero frame miles. The only clouds in our farm are the ones in the sky. So, enjoy the fine spring weather, and, “if you have an animation in need of cultivation, plant a few frames on our farm” suggests Tom Sprague, National Boston’s Chief Engineer. “We have fertile ground to grow your inspiration into a tasty treat.”

For more information about National Ministry of Design please visit www.getnmd.com.

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Saving the Mass Film Tax Credit

MADE-In-MASS
First the good news: I am happy to report that my surgery early in March was a complete success! Cancer free and pathologies negative. It has been a long battle for me, but failing has never been an option in my mind. I still have radiation to go, but for now, I’m feeling great and have rolled up my sleeves to defend the Massachusetts Film Tax Credits against H62.

You may recall that IMAGINE Magazine introduced Film Tax Credits to New England in the early 2000’s and I wrote the first definitive piece on why we should pass film tax credits in 2004. As soon as that issue of IMAGNE hit the street, my office got a call from the Governor Romney’s office asking for twenty copies. That changed the nature of our struggle. The rest is history, we were able to introduce legislation, educate all the elected class and pass the Massachusetts Film Tax credits in 2005; and we made them better in 2006!

Since our inception in 1998, film tax credits and growing this industry has been our #1 mission. We have been defending them ever since. It’s a 24/7/365 responsibility, which is why IMAGINE has a full time Director of Government Relations. We need to know where our elected officials stand on our issues all the time.

We have always known that overnight our main attraction of major productions, both studio and independent, to bring their work to our state can be challenged. A recent case in point is Connecticut when in late June in 2013 the Connecticut’s Film Office awoke one morning to find the state’s tax credits for film had been suspended for two years!

Many people do not understand what tax credits are designed to do. What they are not designed to do is easier to understand. Tax Credits are not designed to put money directly into government coffers. Period. The end! Why is it always judged on that misconception?

Tax Credits, and particularly Film Tax Credits, are designed to pour money into an existing economy; money that would not otherwise be available with the purpose of, in our instance, of creating an industry, stimulating job creation and other desired results that hugely benefit the Commonwealth. For example the Commonwealth could not afford to buy the attention, awareness and attraction of the really special visitors to our state, including the productions themselves that create the industry of tourism. Countless new businesses have arrived. I wish we knew how much collectively they paid the state to do business here.

When a production buys, rents or hires everything it needs here, cast and crew, talent trailers, equipment of all kinds, lumber, paint, hardware, hotel rooms, catering, transportation, waste management (yes, waste management, it’s a big ticketed item), chiropractors and much more, too numerous to mention, the desired results are achieved. The point being that every dollar the production spends ends up being business or personal income that will be taxed by the Commonwealth. In addition much of that money will be re-spent here creating more taxes for the state, cities and towns. Ultimately, all those dollars end up in a federal, state, or municipal coffer.

Consider this: As a result, Massachusetts has many very famous new taxpayers.

The film R.I.P.D spent a boat load of money here. Whether or not the film was a success or failure at the box office has nothing to do with the success of Tax Credits. The production was on location in and around Boston for six months, sometimes with five or six crews shooting at once. R.I.P.D. spent more than any other production in the Commonwealth’s history; they also didn’t break anything, they didn’t pollute or use any social services. They paid for everything before they left. Everyone who worked on R.I.P.D., no matter where they are from, paid taxes in Massachusetts! That includes Ryan and Bridges.

There is no exact formula for calculating the worth of a film tax credit. But, we are getting pretty close to being able to do that. I take great exception to being judged by anyone who apparently doesn’t understand what a tax credit is designed to do, particularly those who use the glamour of our industry to write head turning headlines, especially when they have no appreciation of the thousands of names in the credits at the end of the film, the countless businesses that provided services, or just how hard and yes, unglamorous, it is to make a film.

In my estimation there is no doubt we can prove our worth.

The next edition of IMAGINE puts a spotlight on this issue and we’ve designed a special section dedicated to our industry’s success and our importance to the state and region. I believe I am writing another definitive piece – a big one.

If you have an industry related business that began in MA after the tax credits were incepted or you are an individual that moved to MA or moved back to MA to work in this industry because of the tax credits, please drop me a note – I’d like to include your experience in our special section.

We are also focusing on NAB and the Massachusetts high tech industry that exhibits at NAB in Las Vegas April 11th – 16th. We’ll be there with a gigantic bonus distribution and huge presence. And we have Film Festival Previews for you.

If you would like to advertise in this edition please contact me. Ad Copy deadline is Monday, March 30, 2015. Please book space now.

Our latest edition of IMAGINE – the one that includes our New England Production, Resource and Location Guide is online. It isn’t too late to be a part on our online guide. You can do that by going to http://imaginenews.com/production-guide/submit-your-listing/ and if you haven’t renewed your 2015 subscription to IMAGINE in print delivered to your home or office visit www.imaginenews.com/subscribe.

Oh, yes, Happy Spring, and please feel free to forward this message to an interested friend.

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2015 Predictions Are In!

What’s in the cards for 2015? Generally it appears most everyone is happy to see 2014 go and 2015 is already being heralded as a much more business friendly year. Read what those who work in the industry have to say.

DonDon Packer
Co-Owner/Editor
Engine Room Edit

I predict that 4K TV’s will sit on store shelves like old DVD players until the price comes way down. But, I predict 4K Editing will be running full bore by the end of 2015.

I predict that the new Massachusetts’ administration is going to realize that the Department of Revenue (DOR) numbers are just that, numbers. And realize that you have to look at the tangents to get the really big and really rewarding financial picture for the film tax incentive.

I predict (and I’m going out on a limb here), that the Packers and the Pats will be in the Super Bowl. Oh god please.

I predict and imagine that Carol Patton will recover and come back stronger than ever and we will all realize more than ever how important she is to our community.

And just to share, this is how good I was in 2007. Pretty much nailed it (accept for the cell phone thing)

2007 Prediction:
First, I predict that anything I say will be wrong. Secondly, I predict that HD will continue to claw its way into the world and that the tipping point might even be here by the end of the year as far as Standard vs. HD in the commercial world. I also predict that standards are going to become less clear to every producer but they won’t figure that out and that I personally will lead the way to their new garden of knowledge. And finally I predict a new makeover/game/award show starring a lounge singer, a retired cop and a skateboarder, all shot, produced and delivered on a cell phone. In the end I predict that I’ll be even more stupid than I was before. But that’s okay, because nobody else knows what they’re talking about either.

Steven FeinbergSteven Feinberg
Executive Director,
RI Film & Television Office

The Rhode Island Film Industry will continue to grow and prosper.

There will be at least one Academy Award nomination for the currently non-titled Woody Allen Summer Production 2014.

BLEED FOR THIS, the inspirational story of boxer Vinny Paz, will be a triumphant success and receive Awards.

There will be record-breaking crowds at this year’s Rhode Island International Film Festival because of the wonderful films and surprise guests.

A new television series will commence production in the summer of 2015.

At least one Rhode Island television star will win a Golden Globe and an Emmy!

There will be more jobs on more films and shows this year than ever before in our state’s history!!!

A new theater production will premiere in Rhode Island, before going on a national tour.

Three local filmmakers will have break-out years and their careers will catapult to new heights.

Two major studio productions will arrive and commence production, offering opportunities for our local crew and talent pool!

It’s going to be a banner year for Rhode Island Film! Those are my predictions and I can’t wait to see them come to fruition.

Happy and Healthy 2015!

Marianne-&-chris-TorontoMarianne Leone and
Chris Cooper

Writer/Actor/Imaginnaire and Academy Award/Golden Globe Award Recipient, respectively.

Though we aren’t on the distribution side of the business, we have friends who are, and they all say the metric is changing almost too fast to chart, with indies opening smaller in theatres and concentrating on VOD. On the television side, it looks like a lot of good writers are gravitating to television, where it is possible to tell a more subtle story than in blockbuster films, which are created to sell in world markets.

tomspragueTom Sprague
National Boston

2014 is almost over. Good riddance I say. A year best described in words not fit for print. Others have said the same. Maybe it was the government shutdown? Maybe the Polar Vortex? I think the elections bought up all the media!

Elections didn’t help us much. Getting that work is way too political! 2015 seems to be a totally different animal. Lots of real work on real projects for real clients. Some with real money! One of our guys thought there might be too much? Why the change, we just don’t know. In 2014 we did start buying full pages in IMAGINE. That’s it! It must be IMAGINE!

CarlCarl Hansen
Director, Production, Fox Sports Original Programming

2015 is the year that television, specifically that box in your living room, will officially start to transition into more mainstream(ing) ”Over The Top” content provided by the likes of Netflix and Hulu. The broadcast and cable networks are getting in on the action with “GO” services like HBO GO and ABC GO. Google and Apple are investing in smart televisions.

Content will always be king, it’s just how you will watch will continue to evolve.

After a renaissance of top-name producers, directors and actors gravitating more towards content made specifically for television, the word “television” will just mean the physical display screen in your living room. Big talent will focus on making great content for all the devices in your life, from your smart phone or Google Glass to your tablet or your Apple Watch. I can’t wait for the first show to premiere on the Apple Watch – “for the first time on a wrist, the premiere of [insert your show name here]!”

It’s an exciting time for content creators who can tailor their materials based on specific viewing habits. Gone will be the days of formatted programming for commercial breaks and timeslots – how TV shows on DVD, On Demand and Over The Top networks are being seen already. Product integration and placement will become much bigger business and the old soap opera model of one company/brand sponsoring a show will continue to grow.

And with the proliferation of small, easily portable and inexpensive cameras (built into your phone, Go Pros, etc.), professional content creators will be coming from everywhere and anywhere. Keep an eye out because the kid down the street with his smart phone could be making the next ad for Doritos that’ll be seen during the Super Bowl.

AngelaAngela Peri, CSA
Owner
Boston Casting

In 2014 Boston Casting worked on eleven films! My prediction for 2015 is that two television series will shoot here. Boston is totally on the map as a go to shooting location and it is only a matter of time before we get a series back in Boston.

mc2Mick Cusimano
IMAGINE’s Professor of Surrealism and Creator of ImagineNation

With New England Studios, Red Sky Studios, Charles River Studios and tax credits we have the infrastructure in place for more films being made in New England.

There are also many people making short films locally and there should be more venues to screen them. Last year I went to the Clement-Ferrand Film festival in France where they showed short films by mostly unknown filmmakers from around the world for a week. 160,000 people came to watch these films. There is an interest in short films. We just need to find a way to get them seen more often.

David_KDavid Kleiler
Local Sightings

That the line between independent and commercial films becomes increasingly nebulous. For the last few years “independent” films have dominated the awards season for instance, BOYHOOD, BIRDMAN and THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

BOYHOOD will dominate the awards season, meanwhile St. Vincent, and the thoroughly atrocious MONUMENTS MEN, play both the mega-plexes and art houses and this is likely to continue as the only slightly upper brow Weinstein’s continue to put out films which art house goers mistakenly thought of as great.

In spite of the trend of decreasing quality of the films at Kendall Square, I truly believe nonprofit independent houses such as theaters like the Brattle will continues to program as well as rescue under promoted movies like SNOWPIERCER. “mishandled by the Weinstein’s” and BABADOOK, “also dealt roughly the Weinstein’s.”

In spite of the change of regime at the Statehouse the Mass Film Office will continue under its current excellent leadership and Massachusetts as a location will continue to be a desirable, vital place for film production activity, and the tax incentive will remain intact. IIMAGINE will continue be a unifying source for the film production community, that documentary film production, for which Massachusetts is so widely known, will only continue to increase in its ability to attract audiences. A film by a Boston based producer will have multiple Oscar nominations in 2016.

confortiJoseph Conforti
Writer/Director/Producer

Sumner Redstone will be one year closer to his goal of living forever.

Leslie Moonves and CBS will just keep getting stronger, especially online.

Sony will be renamed Puny after capitulating to the Hermit Kingdom.

The eight episode series, i.e. HBO’s True Detective structure, will get even more popular.

IN PLAIN VIEW will finally get made.

Steve McGrath,
Senior Broadcast Engineer
HB Communications

JJ Abrams’ STAR WARS will be fantastic. It will be so fantastic that people will feel safe having the franchise in Disney’s hands knowing that it will live on for their kids and grandkids. The looming threat of the movie bombing and JJ forever being known as Jar Jar Abrams will be extinguished.

Vines still won’t matter to anyone over 23. You can’t tell a story in seven seconds. And the constant looping of the video clip causes a jump cut that is too irksome. It will motivate YouTube to try to have better video streaming, so it will be a net gain for us.

A new filmmaking trend will emerge. It will be a “minimalist special effects” movement. More emphasis will be pushed toward solid story-telling.

GoPro will make a camera just for police. Then people will want those cameras to not only capture video, but stream in real time. GoPro will accommodate and make a streaming model.

The first major invasion of privacy lawsuit with someone attaching a camera to a drone will happen. Now that drones are in the public’s hands, we will have our first “incident.”

People will feel empty without an annual sequential date such as 12/13/14. So when 5/10/15 comes, people will lose their minds.

Carol Patton will close out the year by appearing with Barbara Walter’s “10 Most Fascinating People” list.

Other channels will see the success of HBO’s streaming service and more major players will jump into the exclusive streaming. The typical cable TV model will crumble. The compromise will be 20+ apps on our mobile devices…one for each channel we watch regularly.

Google Glass and Apple’s watch will fail to make waves. Oculus Rift, on the other hand will boom.

Judy-2013Judith Laster
Festival Director
Woods Hole Film Festival

2015 will continue to be a strong year for film festivals such as the Woods Hole Film Festival and all of the other festivals in the region. Festivals will develop even stronger relationships with Art House cinemas and smaller distributors and will offer a viable opportunity for filmmakers to get their work seen theatrically.

The Massachusetts Tax Credit will remain intact and will continue to attract larger budget studio films to be made in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Film Office, in cooperation with the city of Boston and the Massachusetts Cultural Council will create a plan to support the independent filmmaking community by making it easier for indie filmmakers to make their films in Massachusetts.

Finally, MassDigi and the Massachusetts Film Office will host the first film and gaming summit as part of the newly established Mass Film Week, a new venture that highlights the work of the Mass Film Industry.

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In Plain View: A New Police Drama by Filmmaker Joseph Conforti

By Carol Patton

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”Ex-Boston police detective Butchie Wells was forced into medical retirement after taking a bullet to the knee. He walks with a limp, has an aggravating cough caused by a cancer that’s eating away at him ever so slowly. He sleeps too little and drinks too much, and by 5 am he’s brewed a pot of nasty Ethiopian blend on a pawned percolator he’s been unable to sell; probably because he won’t open his run down pawn shop doors until noon. “

“Wells, estranged from both his ex-wife and twenty one year old daughter, seems to care about only two things, the latest point spread and the Red Sox’s chance for a pennant run. That is until he receives a strange phone call from his ex-partner, controversial rogue detective Patrick Rhodes, who is murdered, execution-style, shortly after the call.”

“The same evening the bullet-ridden remains of a beautiful Albanian girl are found in the murdered detective’s apartment. The two murders will thrust the reluctant former detective back into Boston’s sinister world of crime. A world even more violent than he remembers.

“It’s an election year and Boston’s mayor, Sal Pascale, wants the case and the controversial cop buried fast, as does the Boston Police Commissioner, Peter Grady a rising star with his eyes on the coveted NYC police commissioner job.

How do you like it so far? Enter international intrigue….

“Wells’ ‘unsanctioned’ investigation into his expartner’s murder will echo from the blood-stained streets of Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, through the frigid streets of Moscow, across Vatican Square, and into the Halls of Congress. Wells’ secret investigation to find Rhodes’ killers will surprisingly unearth a ruthless and powerful international crime syndicate, a human trafficking operation, combined with a growing heroin market producing violence and profit beyond imagination. “

Beautiful young women lured through desperation are being swept off the streets of Eastern European and Asian cities, all with promises of a better life in America. Instead, they find themselves prostitutes working for cruel pimps. The most desirable of these women becoming sex-slaves to some of the most prominent men in Boston. Men who possess both the power and the money to ensure their perverse sexual kingdom remains protected and well stocked.”

Well, that’s all you’re going to get from me.

In the strictest sense IN PLAIN VIEW is a police drama driven by character with a grander theme of redemption. It’s a rare chance for three former cops to right a wrong decades after its occurrence. It’s a bare knuckler complete with the complexities of friendship and loyalty

Bringing IN PLAIN VIEW to the screen has been a long time in the making for Joseph Conforti, a Boston based writer and filmmaker. And, of course, its actual making into a major motion picture is in the balance. The story is inspired by the 1993 execution-style murder of Boston Police detective John Mulligan who was shot five times in the face while working an overnight detail at the Walgreens Pharmacy in the Roslindale section of Boston.

Actually, the maturation of the story is a saga in itself. After the murder, Joseph Conforti was approached by several people who, “knew my father was a Boston detective, and that I was a struggling screenwriter. Trusting me because of my background, I ended up in discussions with Richard Mulligan, the murdered detective’s younger brother, and several Boston detectives. In researching the project, it became apparent to me that an inspired story was more desirable than attempting to tell the “true” story. Especially when the true story will probably never be known, and getting story rights would have been a nightmare,’ Joe told IMAGINE Magazine.

The case is rearing its ugly head as we go to print with an attempt to get a retrial for Sean Ellis, the convicted triggerman. Ellis’s attorney claims her client was framed by crooked cops.

“After finishing the feature script, I shopped it around, and eventually optioned it, for one year, to Films. He attempted to raise a four-million dollar budget, but it was not to be…” added Joe Conforti. The option expired.

“I decided to self-finance the project and serialize it via the internet. Webisodes and the New World Distribution paradigm were all the rage, and although they were more successful in the comedy genre, I thought a cop-drama, well produced, might actually work. I broke the script down into episodes and wrote a pilot. I chose Boston actor Tom Kemp as the lead. Tom liked the script and the character; we teamed up. I was ecstatic to have an actor of his caliber come aboard. It was a validation of the script for me, added Conforti.

At this point, Tom became instrumental in helping make this project a reality. He brought Robert Wahlberg to the project; he is perfect for the role of Boston Police captain, Walter Maddox. We shot a killer pitch video, raising approximately 17k through a Rockethub crowd-funding campaign.

“The scenes found their way to LA, where I took a meeting with several people in the business.

“And in spite of the fact that I did no real post-production, regarding sound and color, the LA people loved what they saw and the meetings are continuing… Of course, as much as they love it, closing a deal is what really counts. I will be heading to LA and NY in the next two months. And I will be attending AFM.

“How do I envision it when complete? I see it shot in the style of GOMMORAH; gritty and real. Lots of hand held, but not to the degree of constant distracting movement. When I was getting my master’s at Emerson College (2006), I inadvertently took a class in Grotowskian acting principles (long story). It was listed as a production course, but turned out to be an acting course. Most of us in the class were production types, had never heard of Grotowski, and all were ready to walk out on the first day. But we stayed and met the challenge of Grotowski. It was amazing! I just hope the film of what we did does not ever go public. I think I played everything from a rapid dog to a monkey climbing a wall. It was a form, as I recall, of Action Theater, completely uninhibited, with the camera moving in and out among the actors. The camera simply became another participant. For this movie I want the camera to be organic and dynamic, without drawing attention to itself,” Joe said.

Okay, those are things Joe would like to see, but what Joe really wants is to get this film made. Of course, he wants it set in Boston and with Massachusetts solid 25% film tax credits that apply to above the line and below the line, why wouldn’t it be? Of course, he wants actors with genuine Boston accents and given the script that’s a given. And yes, he is fully qualified to direct the film himself, but would defer if the right production deal was presented.

IN PLAIN VIEW is looking for an executive producer, production company, funding, attachments of note, foreign sales and distribution, His best end result is getting the film made – and a fighting chance to succeed both artistically and financially.

He does understand the importance and reality of collaboration in the film business. Joe is attending AFM and can be reached at 954 648-7607.

You can see the scenes Joe shot at http://inplainviewthewebseries.com.

Carol Patton is the publisher and founder of IMAGINE Magazine. She introduced film tax credits to New England in 2002 and wrote the definitive piece “Tax Credits That Work Take Work” in 2004

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