New Production Partnering Generated by Massachusetts Film Tax Credits

By Elaine Grey

Dennis and Joel Talk Film Tax Credits

IMAGINE Publisher Carol Patton & SAG actor/Director Elaine Grey at the Beat Brasserie in Harvard Square. An IMAGINE Photo.

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.

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