There is a unique parallel between Massachusetts and Hollywood. Massachusetts’ technological sector drives how Hollywood makes their films. Most of the press in covering the tax credit will cite the benefits helping the smaller businesses such as the hotel and restaurant industries, and it does do that. People who have publicly been benefiting from the tax credit are the tradesmen industries such as electrical or construction for sets. All of the local press will talk about those industries, but not the technological sector. But To further this point, we can compare how the post production industries are going in the neighboring New England states – specifically listings for production workflow and editing. Let’s compare what the film office websites for the respective states have tax credits – Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Those states’ respective film offices have a combined 87 listings – 28 for Massachusetts, 20 for Connecticut and 39 for Rhode Island.
What is being overlooked is how Hollywood filmmaking is now driving the technology sector in Massachusetts. The relationship has matured to where both sides are now benefiting.
The part of the tax credit the specifically helps technology is from the “Production Expense Credit”. So what does that include? If an out of state production needs software, hardware, technological employees, film processing , sound, editing, high-salary employees, location fees and rental services.
So if an out of state production needs spot editing at one of Massachusetts’ post houses, that would be covered. If they need hard disk storage for media from one of the many hardware manufacturers, that would also be covered. If they need to hire a local specialist to help on a film, that would be covered. And if they needed rental services from one of the many rental houses in town, that would also be covered. None of these businesses are getting the attention of the media nor the law makers.
On the Mass Film website (www.mafilm.org), you can see that Massachusetts production resources are very abundant. There are 28 businesses offered to out of state productions for production workflow and edit systems. There are 31 businesses for VFX and Animation and there are 27 businesses in the Post Production Audio Services. Now there are companies that offer a combination of these services, so the actual count of unique businesses is 59. If the film tax credit disappears, rest assured, some of those businesses will fail.
When we compare to states that have no tax credits, the numbers get much more slim. The northern New England stats have just 35 listings in the field for production services. Those states’ respective film offices have much smaller production workflow services – 30 for New Hampshire, 5 for Maine, and Vermont is unlisted.
You can argue that the proximity to a city like Boston helps, but look at Rhode Island. Rhode Island is a state a third of the size of Massachusetts, yet it is out performing Massachusetts. Why is that? Well its because there is no looming threat to the elimination of their tax credit. To a film maker most of the New England states all look alike, so those states are
interchangeable to television. But film makers choose the states of southern New England for the tax break obviously.
Not even on the Mass Film Office website are the companies that are creating stuff for these people to use. Companies like Avid for video editing software and hardware, EditShare for workflow tools and storage, Facials also for storage and workflow tools. These film makers are also using Boris FX and Genarts for video FX. And new sensation in town, Isotope is being used for audio plugins for the post production industry. You could even count camera stabilizing companies
such as Glidecam. All of these tools in integral in the creation of film and television.
There are national companies that have invested in Massachusetts over the past decade. There are also local offices for Adobe, Autodesk – although Massachusetts is not their respective national headquarters. All of this business popping up is not coincidental, it goes hand in hand with Massachusetts’ ride to prominence in the film industry. It only makes sense that the tool makers to the industry are near the people using the tools.
Massachusetts will never be Hollywood, but with one of the United States’ major exports being film and television, it only makes sense that we tap into the now national film and television industry and try to harness it for job creation in the state. If Hollywood is #1 for film creation and New York City is #2, why couldn’t Massachusetts rise to #3?
The Summer of 2016 will be a great time to go to the movies if you are from Massachusetts. We have Ghostbusters 3 and Central Intelligence coming out which are both going to do great at the box office.
Steve McGrath is a Broadcast Sales Engineer for HB Communications. He has worked with NBC, ABC, CBS, NESN, NECN, Fox, ESPN, Pentagon, Powderhouse and many others. You can reach him at Steve.McGrath@
HBCommunications.com. Learn more, visit www.HBCommunications.com.