New England Production Industry Leaders Share Their Predictions for 2014

Every year IMAGINE gathers some predictions from industry leaders. They are thoughtful and sometimes extremely clever. However, most of these 2014 predictions tell us what the future of our industry may look forward to. Our predictors say the future is promising, exciting, interesting and that the region has positioned itself for a big pay-off.

Part of the optimism is hinged to the opening of new studio facilities in Massachusetts, but most of it is still banking on the regions attractive Film Tax Credits – hard won, but not yet nearly well enough promoted or advertised.

We present submissions that made our cut alphabetically here.

Obviously, again this year we will have to learn something new. –PUB

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 8.21.50 AMBecki Dennis, Actor, Producer & Owner of Talent Tools

I predict that we will have the busiest year ever for film production in Massachusetts and land our first TV series.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 8.27.44 AMSteven Feinberg, Executive Director Rhode Island Film & Television Office

I predict that there will be an amazing IMAGINE Magazine party in Providence in 2014!

I predict that INFINITELY POLAR BEAR, starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana, filmed entirely in Rhode Island, will win critical acclaim and some awards in 2014!

I predict that there will be an ongoing major television show filmed in Rhode Island in 2014!

I predict that an Academy Award-winning cinematographer will film a feature in Rhode Island in 2014!

I predict that 2014 will be a banner year for independent filmmaking in Rhode Island!

And I predict that three local talents will each have break-out years and be catapulted into the stratosphere of the movie heavens, and their stars will shine very brightly.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 8.38.38 AMSteve McGrath, Senior Broadcast Sales Engineer HB Communications, Inc.

I think 2014 will be the one of the most transitional years in recent memory. People will be eager to push things up to the
cloud, but if 4K gets off the ground, that won’t happen. (Read Steve’s explanation about 4K here) So people will have to make a decision if they want to pursue 4K or not. Storage companies will be pushing 4K as it sells storage. Cloud service companies will be dismissing 4K because current network speeds don’t support it in the cloud. People will have to make decisions to re-invest in storage to support 4K, or go with cloud storage. And while on the topic of 4K, non-linear editing systems will start to support 4K with compression like ProRez or DNx.

Another big change will be to choose the new Mac Pro or keep their PCI cards and move to PC.

With the new MacPro, people are going to be buying a lot of Thunderbolt adapters to accommodate their old PCI card based infrastructure. People say the new MacPro looks like a trash can, but I think it will look like an octopus once all the Thunderbolt adapter cables start dangling out of it.

I will also go out on a limb and say that 2014 will be the beginning of the end for video editor rendering. I think people have been editing long enough where it should be expected that rendering can be done in the background now. Autodesk Smoke will render in the background today, but by the end of the year, I think that ALL editing programs will render in the background.

Steve also regularly contributes to our TECH EDGE column. You can read more of his writing here.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 8.52.10 AMSusan Nelson, Executive Director SAG-AFTRA New England

New England is trending as one of the best filmmaking destinations in the country. The region has been enjoying a wave of production as filmmakers come to take advantage of our unique history, culture and architecture, wide range of shooting locations, and our deep pool of skilled talent. And it looks like the momentum is only building.

Just a few examples of the high-profile productions that have filmed here recently include THE HEAT, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy; AMERICAN HUSTLE, starring Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence; THE JUDGE, with Robert Downey Jr. (SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard also appears in THE JUDGE); THE FORGER, starring John Travolta; and THE EQUALIZER, with Denzel Washington.

A significant motivating factor for producers has certainly been Massachusetts’ compelling film tax incentive, which provides a twenty-five percent production credit and a twenty-five percent payroll credit for qualifying productions.

While critical in drawing productions here, when combined with our ever-increasing local resources, it often tips the balance in our favor. In fact, this year we were successful in convincing a major feature film to choose Massachusetts over Louisiana where they also offer a tax incentive.

New England’s terrain is another plus: Picturesque seaside towns, urban environments, rural settings and unparalleled historic
streetscapes are all within easy travel. With the opening of New England Studios, state-of-the-art production facilities will be in easy reach, as well.

Another exciting trend for our union members is a significant increase in principal roles cast locally, as producers become more familiar with our local talent and realize that they can save costs by hiring true professionals locally. We predict this trend will continue.

Asked for my predictions for the upcoming year, I would say that all signs point to a banner year for local production in 2014, topping a fabulous 2013. SAG-AFTRA will continue to support local talent and promote favorable legislation. Our goal is to keep this area a destination. It’s a great time to be an actor in the Northeast.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 9.00.24 AMDon Packer, Co-Owner and Senior Editor Engine Room Edit

2014 is upon us. 2013 is in the rear view mirror. However, I have a large sign on mine that says “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” in that Jurassic Park sort of way. Brrrr…. So, it ain’t over yet. But I see the light.

We have a new Mayor in Boston. The old one was pretty good. But this one made a lot of noises about the arts community here and I predict it’s going to happen in a large way. Even to the point of embracing filmmaking in town. What a concept. All boats rise on the tide.

I predict that the tax incentive battle will stupidly rise again. And once again statements like “ … lets spend the money elsewhere” will be bandied about. I predict that the people who make those statements will once again fail to realize that, THERE IS NO MONEY. Sorry for the all caps. It’s a tax INCENTIVE. But I also predict that in the end, with sound reasoning and for the fact that hotels, restaurants and tourism have all seen a huge boost due to movie making in our town, that it will continue unimpeded. You know, those guys in Devens didn’t stick thirty million in the ground just because they didn’t know what to do with their money.

I predict that I will once again write a script that isn’t worth reading, but I will be entertained by many that are. Among
them will be some that will actually happen because people have great ideas for shooting in Boston and they’ll continue to.

I also predict that this will be the year we find out that both Kanye and Kim K are aliens. Face it. They named their kid a direction. They did an Imovie edit that they think looks good. They walk around in T shirts in freezing cold weather. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started to say they were from France and loved fried eggs and beer. Wait… Aren’t they getting MARRIED in France??!!!

I predict I’ll finish what I started. Which is a VERY good documentary from Rough Water Films about beer and well, I’ll try to not to put on any weight doing it.

I predict that the replacement for Dona Somers at SAG, Sue Nelson, will be wonderful and well liked by everyone. Not that we didn’t love Dona.

And finally, I predict a big TV show is finally coming. It has to. We’re primed. Why not? I’m not talking a reality show but a drama that will work. That will be based here. Shot here. Edited here. Come on, even a dog gets a bone once in a while.

2014. I’m going to love you like a long lost brother.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 9.19.14 AMJohn Rule, President Rule Boston Camera

2014 will be a very exciting year from a technology perspective. Due to advances in electronics and a global supply network, innovators and inventors now have ready availability of all manner of motors, sensors, and specialized processors, which will bring forth a tidal wave of new camera dynamics products of all imaginable types. We’ll see many new stabilization rigs, flying
drones, motion control rigs, sliders, cranes, jibs and dollies. Additionally, I think that the burgeoning robotics industry
will this year introduce us to the first semi-autonomous camera robot, just you wait! We may never have to endure a static shot again (kidding!). 3D printing is also coming into its own, so every key grip, gaffer, DP and AC will be able to design and build his or her own signature line of production tools. And (I am hoping) that 4K workflows as used by Hollywood will become more practical, and will start to trickle down to more real-world production environments.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 9.22.32 AMJohn Stimpson, Director John Stimpson Productions

2014 will be a big year here in Massachusetts! The tax incentive will continue to draw big projects to the Commonwealth, and our fabulous new facility, NE Studios will house some exciting productions. Some of the films shot here in 2013 will win Academy Awards. Many of our talented filmmakers and production professionals will get attention, acclaim and some big new opportunities. More of our local actors and creative talent will shine. And, with any luck, I personally, will premiere my newest film, and start production on two new projects.

Meanwhile, we will all continue to grow and change in the ever more volatile world of distribution and exhibition. The disparity between big studio projects and independent films will expand further. Television as we know it will continue to morph into a hybrid of online and broadcast content. Web based projects will be more plentiful and gain more notoriety. And binge-watchable series will start to overtake stand-alone, long format projects as the preferred form of narrative storytelling.

Have a great year! Keep plugging, stay creative, and let’s all self-generate some cool stuff here at home in Massachusetts!

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 9.30.49 AMErnest Thompson, Writer, Director, Producer Whitebridge Farm Productions

Since it’s been scientifically proven that the universe is simultaneously expanding and contracting, as in nobody can see that far but can now Tweet about it in 140 characters, it’s only fitting that film follow suit. Film in 2014 is sort of where it was 100 years ago when no one knew what to think of the medium or its potential and went about making movies anyway. The old paradigm, and this is where Einstein steps in, still works except it’s bigger. A budget of 150 million is nothing, it’s a joke, provided that it recoups in its first weekend; if it doesn’t, don’t call me. But, relativity speaking, a newer paradigm has taken root in the shadows of the skyscrapers: Independent film will become more independent than ever.

Community filmmaking, we call it, those of us probably not conversation starters at 150 mill but with stories to tell just the
same. Through my company Whitebridge Farm Productions, I’ve made two movies in the last few years, TIME AND CHARGES and HEAVENLY ANGLE. We offered them as On Location Training and more than 800 people participated. The movies’ budgets were modest, even by 1914 standards, but their collective hearts are huge and the response from the few film festivals we’ve visited has been colossal. And we’re just getting started, we nouveau pioneers. Communities will be springing up all across the frontier; we’re expanding ours and we’re not alone. In the digital age, anyone can make a movie, which means a lot of bad movies will get made – they weren’t all masterpieces in 1914 either – but great, profound, provocative films will be created, too; it’s an exciting time to be a storyteller. 100 years from now, people will look backand marvel at what we accomplished. Einstein would be proud.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 9.32.40 AMDave Talamas, President Talamas Sales and Rentals

With the impending sale of spectrum above 600 MHz, wireless microphone and intercom manufacturers will become more spectrum-efficient. While 4K has been heavily promoted in 2013, most content will continue to be created in 2K since it has more than enough resolution for commercial and motion picture production, is cost effective and is supported by the cable and network infrastructure, whereas 4K presently is not. However, 4K production can be valuable for motion picture production for future proofing, as well as for computer graphics for film and commercial production.

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Ann Baker: What Casting Directors Want From Actors

Interviewed by Lau Lapides

Ann Baker
Ann Baker
As coaches at lau lapides company, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive
from our clients is, “what do casting directors want?” and, “am I right for this part?” This lingering question has led me to want to get inside the mind of one of the most influential people for actors in New England, my dear friend and colleague, Ann Baker from Boston Casting.

Here is how she portrays her own getting ahead, “I started casting when Susan Shaw, head of casting at American Residuals and Talent, had to go to Texas with a client on a shoot, sending her out of the office for a couple of weeks. You’re talking 1977. So the business
was very different than it is now. While she was out she had mentioned to Frank Dolan, who was the producer at the theater I was working for at the time, that there wasn’t anybody to sit in her chair for the couple of weeks while she was gone. Frank recommended that I sit in for her. What started as a brief ‘stand in’ position turned into a longer stint with a future,” Ann revealed.

Jump cut to 1980 when Ann Baker Casting was formed along with my philosophy: before I call them make sure the actor can act and really take on the role, that they physically look the part, as the director/ producer requested, and their branding and packaging is consistent with their delivery and skills. Everything the actor presents needs to be in proper alignment and make sense to the decision makers. Specific questions we ask that need to be answered: Do they know what to do in front of a camera? Can they provide multiple interpretations of the character? Are they absolutely right for this role?

Ann continues, “My job is to provide my client with the absolute best available talent for the role. That’s what I get paid for. I call you in because you fit all the criteria and you’ve got the ‘stuff’ for the job. You don’t need to be nervous when you’re invited to audition; you should know at that point you’re good enough to be there. There shouldn’t be a shade of doubt in your mind about your abilities.

“Don’t come in looking to book the job. Come because you’re an actor and you have an audience. It’s not about booking the job; it’s about being a pro as you audition. Important factors at this point can make you or break you: Are you on time or better – early? Do you know how to improvise when there is no actual script? Can you answer this question: ‘So
tell me about yourself?’ Are you memorable? Have you signed in legibly so we can read what you wrote and contact you when you get the job? I want you to bring hard copies of your headshots and resumes with you at all times. Don’t forget to keep in touch with me in between auditions by sending me headshot postcards to keep me updated on all of your current projects which include: coaching, workshops, performances, and gigs you’ve booked. Don’t forget I want to be invited to see you perform! This is how I scout new talent. And always, always, always be nice and say thank you… for the audition… for our time… for the opportunity,” are her words for an actor to live by.

“Today it is about the immediacy of everything… It is both a blessing and a curse. We want to take the time to get the know you and create a long term relationship. Yet our industry is moving so fast: the casting process often moves from start to finish within a matter of hours. I want to connect with you, meet you, and see where you are right now, and watch you
get to the next level of your career. I see my job as not only a casting director, but one of a motivational guide and teacher. I want to see you improve at your craft, get hired for your skill, and ultimately achieve marketable success in your career.

“The secret lies in the training. Never, never, never stop training, no matter how good you are, no matter what age you are, no matter what, you must always be training. In training we have the ability to re-envision and reinvent who we are not only as professional actors but as human beings in the world. Training takes care of the actor’s technical tools and builds
the detailed mechanics of character development and technique.

I am so fortunate to love what I do. I have seen so much growth in this industry over the years and look forward to continued growth for years to come. We certainly have the talent and technical expertise in New England to make this happen. says Ann Baker.

Ironically, as we take a moment to get inside of Ann’s head, we know she would want actors to get outside of their heads when doing their work. Over thinking it can be a killer. Just do it to the best of your ability, with passion and dedication, and the work will come.

Currently Ann is an independent casting director working in association with Boston Casting, and teaches on camera commercial technique at the Media Performance Institute.

For more information visit Lau Lapides is the owner of the lau lapides company, a studio specializing in Voice Over training and the placement of commercial talent. She is a frequent contributor to IMAGINE. Visit

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