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’?’’
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.
(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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
“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, 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 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.
It’s a come-back story – one of great fortitude and persistence. For Rhode Islanders, it’s a cathartic journey right alongside one of their very own. What’s more is that it was made right here in the “little state that could”. It’s the lm called BLEED FOR THIS, the story of Vinny Pazienza, ve time world champion boxer, who refused to retire after an accident left him severely injured and almost paralyzed.
When the word came down that BLEED FOR THIS was going to be filmed in RI, Paz’s home state, people got excited. Actors clamored for a shot at auditioning for principle roles. With Martin Scorsese producing and Ben Younger directing, they knew it could be a shot at the big time, a chance in a lifetime.
This is where East Greenwich resident Tanja Melendez Lynch comes in. Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised on Long Island, she garnered a much coveted spot – as the “woman at the bar” at Twin River, opposite the hot young star Miles Teller. It wasn’t easy, but she stayed in the game, and eventually the time paid off. It’s a come-back story of her own, at a time when her children are grown and her drive to succeed is evident.
Tanja joined a local children’s theater group at a young age mostly involved behind the scenes. Later, At UMass/Amherst she wrote and performed her own skits with a comedic improv group, where she was able to come out of her somewhat shy shell. Eventually she joined Boston Improv where she performed anywhere she could on weekends and rehearsed weeknights.
Fast forward a couple of years after college and Tanja, now a wife and a mother, gave up acting to take care of her family full time. The acting bug, though, never left her. Five years ago she went to Trinity Rep and began taking classes on the dramatic side this time. She also went to Boston, taking classes with two of the top casting directors in town, Angela Peri of Boston Casting and Carolyn Pickman of CP Casting. Virtually all Hollywood films that come thru New England go thru these two offices, and many New England actors are cast in featured or small speaking roles. The competition is fierce.
To build up confidence and feel comfortable, Tanja began doing background work on big productions in lms like MOONRISE KINGDOM, filmed in Jamestown RI and RIPD, filmed in Boston and Providence. She eventually submitted for principal supporting roles in locally produced indie films. A big break came when she got the role of Kathy, the drunken neglectful mother of young Emily, the films protagonist, in ALMOST MERCY, also filmed in RI. The film is produced by Woodhaven Films, the other half of Verdi Films, one of the producers of BLEED FOR THIS. This film was a turning point for Tanja, as it allowed her to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) union and to work with such actors as Kane Hodder (FROZEN, THE AFFLICTED, HOLLISTON) and cult classic horror star Bill Moseley HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, ROGUE RIVER). Tanja has also done web series roles, such as Girl in the Attic, due out soon, a production I had the pleasure of working on with her, soon to be released among other local films and projects.
These days though, Tanja has taken a new role – that of producer. She just finished starring in the role of “Jane”, and producing ANDERS MANOR (see IMAGINE Dec/Jan 2017), a horror story due out in March. The movie has a distribution deal in place. This one promises to be a “hide
under the covers” flick with plenty of fodder for nightmares.
Her family life comes first though and when she’s not with them; Tanja continues to study her craft both here in Rhode Island and frequently travels to NY for training and coaching. She has auditioned for supporting roles in major movies like JOY, GHOSTBUSTERS, PATRIOTS DAY, and LIVE BY NIGHT. She considers just being called in to read for these movies a huge win in itself.
BLEED FOR THIS received a theatrical release late last year. You can also see Tanja soon in CODE 13: UNREADABLE, a cop drama in which she plays the role of Audrey.
New England winters can be incredibly beautiful and unmercifully harsh. There is always a nostalgic anticipation of windswept mounds lining the streets of quaint little towns. The diamond like quality of ice laden trees like masks on the dangers that nobody sees. The reality of this season is,it brings a lot of pain.
Winter 2014 was shaping up to be another long, hard grind. Freezing cold temperatures brought heaps of snow making a walk to your car seem like a marathon. There is the clothing ritual, the layering of undergarments, outerwear and accessories, followed by, heating up the car, scraping off the snow, digging out the driveway etc…, by the time you actually get going, your hands are frozen, you can’t feel your fingers or toes. You are numb, in effect, painless.
Imagine what it would be like to have an actual genetic disorder that renders your body incapable of feeling physical pain. CIP, (congenital insensitivity to pain) affects only one in a million people worldwide. This is what the story of Painless is all about.
PAINLESS is a modern-day fable about loneliness and alienation. It’s about the sacrifices one makes for what they believe in. Writer/director Jordan Horowitz goes on to say, these are feelings I think we have all experienced at some point in our lives. Horowitz, a native New Yorker, wrote this science based drama prior to his 2015 documentary ANGEL OF NANJING, which took thirteen best film and director awards from festivals around the world including: the Rhode Island Film Festival. Horowitz teamed up with the award winning Rhode Island duo, of Anthony Ambrosino and Nicholas Delmenico whose last film, ALMOST HUMAN, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where it was purchased by IFC. This talented group of filmmakers have now achieved another big dream with PAINLESS. They have been invited to hold its world premiere screening at the prestigious Cinequest Film and VR Festival (CQFF) on March 2nd, 2017.
In PAINLESS we see realize that most of us try to avoid pain. Henry, however, has spent his entire life trying to find it.
Pia Chamberlain wrote, “Henry looks normal, and he is anything but. Unable to feel physical pain, he lives in constant fear of an injury or illness he cannot detect. Henry’s life work is to nd a cure for his condition, and to him, daily life—and human interaction—are only a distraction from his quest. His best friends are his mice that he uses to test his unsuccessful experimental treatments. A budding friendship with Shani, a caring barista, seems to create a “chink in his armor.” But a chancy partnership with a brilliant, discredited scientist puts him at a crossroads. Is he willing to risk everything for a cure?” That’s quite a set up.
When I met the film’s star Joey Klein, a Montreal native, I joked with him about being prepared for our outside shoot. So do you think you can handle a few weeks outside in NYC? I’m going to be your hair and makeup artist. I joked, “You might get hat hair”. He replied with a silent glare. I said, ”just kidding, you are from Canada, I get it, you know cold.” He then replied in a dead serious tone, “I’m Henry Long, I can’t feel any pain, cold or otherwise.” I knew right then and there this lm was going to be good. Joey Klein is a busy lm and television actor who has been working for the last decade, with roles in AMERICAN GANGSTER, ON THE ROAD, and 12 Monkeys: The Series. He most recently wrote and directed the feature lm THE OTHER HALF, which premiered at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival.
As we wrapped on our Rhode Island location scenes we headed off to the Big Apple. We had a skeleton crew of about fifteen people with us. Although we just crossed into March, it was still freezing cold. Our collective commitment to this passion project was partly fueled by our pizza budget and the desire to make a great and sensitive film.
We all took on this film and the elements, because let’s face it; there’s not much work in the winter. Anthony Ambrosino put it like this; “it’s a time when we can truly lavish all our attention and passion on a small Indie project. It’s a window of opportunity to test your skills and budget to accomplish something creatively satisfying.” Despite the small budget of this lm, the imagery and scope will read grand. The landscape rich backdrop of New York City along with some fortuitous Rhode Island locations will be sure to please the eyes. From wardrobe to props, lighting to makeup, everyone gave their all to make PAINLESS come to life.
One of the highlights, an eye opener for me was in New York when we were filming in the subway on a moving train. We had been setting up for roughly a half hour, when I noticed the pile of trash I had been standing across from starts to move. Out from the heaping pile of discarded paper and rags emerged an elderly couple well into their late 60s. I was shocked that they had been under the rubble all that time and no one had noticed them until they crawled out. It was painful to see. I remember thinking, they must be numb, and I can’t imagine how they feel living like that. I thought maybe they can’t feel pain physically or mentally anymore, that’s how they survive.
We then moved on to the train, it was in this scene that I had to create some special effects. I had to make the lead Henry, look like he had been beat up. A couple of real life tough guys were riding along with us watching this scene play out. When one of the gang members remarked, nice work it looks real, looks like it hurts. Another member of the group said I messed a guy up like that last night, I hurt him real good! I turned and said, this story is about people who can’t feel physical pain. He replied, that’s dope, sounds like a super power. As they laughed I thought his comments were telling. I felt his words betrayed his own inner pain.
They say art imitates life, well in this case I believe life was imitating art. Although it’s a rare condition, there are examples of numbness and inability to feel pain all around us. Some call it insensitivity. The good news is that an emotional connection will bond you to this lm and make you feel something, empathy, compassion, perhaps sadness but don’t despair. It’s having the physical ability to emote or express your feeling/pain like the act of crying that will make you happy to be able to feel something. It’s part of what makes us human.
The ironic twist to this story is that a few weeks after we wrapped I went to a podiatrist for pain in my foot. The doctor took X-rays and came back and said, I see the problem, you broke your big toe. I was shocked, he then replied to my confusion, he said, you must have been numb from being outside, I guess the break was painless.
Lori Grenier is a Film Set Hair and Makeup Artist and budding actor. She frequently writes her experiences about being on sets where she spends a lot of time.
Recently, in this New Year, I arranged a brainstorming luncheon with IMAGINE Publisher, Carol Patton, where we met with Producer/Entrepreneur, Dennis Serpone and Producer/Talent Agent, Joel Feingold to discuss one of their new business ventures, the movie, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY. Topics we covered included financing, distribution, and most importantly, the impact that the MA Film Tax Credits have on new projects, how they work, and how they boost our economy. Clearly the MA 25% Film Tax Credit is playing a role in the success of this particular movie project.
Last year (2016), at the annual “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala, I had the pleasure of introducing Joel Feingold to Dennis Serpone, who I knew was looking for a connection to a project to invest in, or one that was in the development process.
Since Joel was already involved in a number of projects, I put my matchmaking instincts to work, and put them together. I was happy to learn that they hit it off, and are now collaborating on the hilarious-comedic lm, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY starring celebrity-actor/comedian, Steve Sweeney.
Within days of the luncheon, I decided to ask each of them the following questions, and asked them to put their answers into their own words.
1. What (bio-synopsis-snapshot) can you tell me about yourself?
2. In your own words, How did you both meet, and what is your relationship today regarding the new Production Company you formed, projects, and of course, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY?
3. How important are the MA Film Tax Credits to your ventures, including SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY?
Here are their numbered responses:
Dennis Serpone (In his own words):
1. As a chronic entrepreneur, I’m keenly aware of opportunities that make life more rewarding. I’ve gone from engineer to restaurateur businessman, from hospitality real estate broker and developer to investor relations. Much like the theme of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, our life’s experiences bring us to a pinnacle. Today is the summation of my life’s experiences working with Steve Sweeney and his team to produce his much anticipated comedy feature lm SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY.
2. The expression, ‘nothing happens by accident’ is very appropriate in this case. I was invited by a mutual friend to the NEWPORTANT ‘wrap party’ in Newport, RI a couple of years ago, where I met Elaine Grey. Elaine subsequently invited me to one of Carol Patton’s IMAGINE’s “Imaginnaire” Awards Galas where Elaine introduced me to producer/agent Joel Feingold. Joel then
introduced me to Steve Sweeney and Keith Dorrington. My involvement in SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY is the result.
In subsequent conversation with Keith, he became interested in my family’s house ipping efforts on Cape Cod and saw it as a reality TV Show, Flipping Cape Cod. “Improving the face of Cape Cod one house at a time.”
3. Because of the nature of independent lm making, generating investor interest and financial commitment is a daunting task. In the case of SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY, having tax credits is an important addition to the benefits our investors receive for participating.
Joel Feinberg (In his own words):
1. I started my career in the industry as an agent and manager representing “baby” rock bands. This led inexorably to founding my own agency which I ran for about twelve years. I had fallen into producing shows for private clients and this work was both pro table plus my background as a television cameraman, general studio hand, and my good education made it a good t. I took a break from representing talent for over a decade and focused on producing private shows of all types. During this time period I also made my rst foray into the world of Broadway, attempting to mount a show. About three years ago I decided to return to my passion, working with artists, and now represent nine actors, comedians and writers, as well as their projects.
2. Dennis Serpone and I met at the 2016 “Imaginnaire” Awards sponsored by Carol Patton’s IMAGINE Magazine. Director Elaine Grey was kind enough to introduce us as she knew that I was starting to work on funding for a lm, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY, which stars my client Steve Sweeney. The timing was great as Dennis was looking for a project to work on as well, from the funding side. My interest in promoting Steve’s career and Dennis’ interest to become a producer coincided and we built a strong yet still flexible relationship to collaborate on SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY.
3. The Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is a very important part of the package which we present to potential investors. Even at a small level, let alone that of a major Hollywood production, the credits improve the nancial projections for an investor. Putting money into a motion picture or television pilot is risky, and so the impact of the Film Tax Credit is a mitigating factor. It’s clear that the level of impact is crucial: Below a certain amount and there is a drop off of participation as projects go elsewhere and regional investors lean toward other options.
From a broader perspective, I believe that the ecosystem supported by the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is very beneficial to our overall social and economic environment. It’s nearly impossible to measure the increase in tourism and goodwill created by the many motion pictures and television shows lmed and set in Massachusetts. But it surely exists. And the work, folks able to function as creatives, make our lives richer every day.
It is fascinating to watch this collaboration grow, and to see how support for this project is taking a life of its own. It will be interesting to follow how the MA Film Tax credits work for them and how Massachusetts will benefit from their contribution. I look forward to seeing what the future brings for these talented and amazing Entrepreneurs, Dennis Serpone and Joel Feingold.
Dennis can be reached at: Dserpone@comcast.net and Joel can be reached at: www.joelfeingoldpresents.com
Elaine Grey is a SAG actor, director, writer and producer, who has been working on lms since her graduation from Harvard University in 2006. She resides in Watertown MA with her husband, Daniel. Last year she directed two short lms, LATE and COFFEE TALK. Elaine was the original founder and driving force for the development of Watertown’s Center for the Arts, located at the Watertown Arsenal. Elaine is on Facebook and can be reached at: Evgrey@aol.com.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”