Take 2: July 2017

Massachusetts Film Tax Credits Remain Strong….

The industry has much to be grateful for. Our Massachusetts Film Tax Credits are intact. Except for the support of key elected legislators, we could have been devastated. Save for industry members who believe in what we are doing, we could be in Hollywood’s rear view mirror.

The Commonwealth is having its best year ever of visiting studio and major productions working in this state. We have a ten-episode series shooting in New England Studios. Hollywood has once again taken notice. Future films will consider coming to Massachusetts. Another series is on its way.

Quincy Chamber of Commerce President Tim
Cahill (center), with Quincy elected officials Representative Bruce Ayers, Representative
Tacky Chan (a SAG-AFTRA member), House Majority Leader Ron Mariano and Senator John Keenan. The whole delegation supports
film tax credits. An IMAGINE photo.

Carol Patton met with Senator Sal DiDomenico
during the Committee of Conference in behalf of our industry. An IMAGINE photo.
This legislative season has been an entirely new experience for the Commonwealth’s Film and Television industry. For the past two years, Governor Baker first included the elimination of our Film Tax Credits and last year he attempted to modify them. This year the industry was completely left out of his budget and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Carol Patton
after the Conference Committee reconciliation
of the House and Senate Budgets that worked out well for our industry. An IMAGINE photo.

Governor Baker is known to have said that he tried it twice and it’s apparent to him that Film Tax Credits are the will of the legislature (well, certainly the House of Representatives as that is where tax policy is constitutionally vested first) and the citizens of the Commonwealth.

But, then, the somewhat unexpected happened. We suspected that there would be amendments from the Senate. We didn’t know they would pass.

Don Packer, Engine Room co-owner and senior editor and past President of MPC,
talking to industry supporters Massachusetts’
Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante
(Gloucester, Rockport and Essex) after the Committee of Conference reconciled in our industry’s favor. An IMAGINE Photo.
Members’ complaints included that the state paid GHOSTBUSTERS 2 over $25 million dollars. Few recalled, however, that that meant Columbia Pictures spent over $100 million in the Commonwealth, built a giant set in Weymouth (which they left behind), and enriched thirteen other locations around the state. Think of it, a $100 million infusion into the state’s economy! Blockbusters of this ilk are attracted to Massachusetts because of our 25% above the line Film Tax Credit.

Senator Michael Rodrigues from Westport, who represents Fall River, MA, filed an amendment that would damage our industry’s ability to attract big budgeted films. Taking the “attractive” out of our “attractive film incentives” program. Essentially, large budgeted movies would be deterred from coming to Massachusetts and very few productions could meet the 75% of budget requirement or the cap on salaries in this global climate.

The Senate voted for the amendment to be included in the Senate budget. Twenty-three Senators of the thirty-eight possible (2 open seats) stood against us! Nine Senators stood for us. And we’re grateful for them.

It’s important at this time that we extend our appreciation and gratitude for those who stood with us in the Senate. The vote was a sneaky one. They counted in a rare standing vote without naming Senators who stood against us.

Read on

Take 2: June 2017

James Montgomery, Don Packer and Carol Patton in the Flag Building cover photo shoot for this 200th edition of IMAGINE. Photo by Carolyn Ross.

Here we go again – headed into June sitting on pins and needles, this time in fear of Massachusetts Senate Amendment #38, which passed in the Senate on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 and so is included as a troubling obstacle in the Senate’s version of an ongoing budget process for fiscal year 2018.

Amendment 38 has two parts, both conceived with an apparent lack of understanding of the complex metrics of movie making. The amendment requires productions to increase their number of days of principal photography from 50% to 75% and/or increase their spend in
Massachusetts from 50% of their budget to 75% of their budget. While Massachusetts has been enjoying amazing growth in our film production industry, we still do not have the infrastructure to support requiring a film project to commit 75% of its budget here. Blockbuster movie budgets have a huge percentage of their film’s budget dedicated to postproduction. And even though we have great post houses in Boston, post is still captured in the western hemisphere by Montreal, New York and Hollywood.

Tim Grafft, Massachusetts Film Office Deputy Director takes the best selfies ever. Here his long arms are the key capturing IATSE’s Business Manager Chris O’Donnell, IMAGINE Publisher Carol Patton, MFO’s Executive Director
Lisa Strout and himself. An IMAGINE Photo.

Let’s face the facts – these days movies have to be more global in scope to compete for worldwide box offices. If the drafters of this amendment knew anything about our industry they would know this amendment is not “trimming the tax credit” to save money for the state, but, it’s an attempt to render our Massachusetts incentives irrelevant in the global competition for the movie locations business.

I suspect that is the intent of some in the Senate, but not all. This was intended to sound like a reasonable compromise and a cost saving position to the casual observer. However, some well-intended members may feel misled when a more substantive explanation of this amendment and how it affects Massachusetts ability to compete is explained to them. Entertainment, of which motion picture and television constitute the major parts, is the country’s number one export, not only dollar wise, but for exporting our country’s cultural values and, yes, technology and production values! Is that so hard to understand? We need to keep this mighty business here.

Hawaii goes all out to attract attention to their exhibit at AFCI’s Locations Show including exotic flower leis for attendees
and photo opportunities for the folks back home. An IMAGINE Photo.

The standing vote was effectively a kill shot (one we hope ultimately misses the mark in the combined and finalized budget) to our industry’s well-crafted incentives by eliminating one of the most positive features in our Film Tax Credits, our above the line credit which allow Massachusetts to compete with states and foreign countries that have much higher tax credit offerings, but do not include above the line or have credits not valued as highly as ours.

That’s our big hook. Above the line is precisely the reason blockbuster movies choose Massachusetts whenever they can. Big movies have big stars, even bigger directors, and those above the line salaries are what constitute blockbuster movies that garner the biggest budgets – more money to spend in Massachusetts. What is so hard to understand about that?

KNIGHT AND DAY, the first blockbuster to put us on the A-list Hollywood map, is a solid example of why we have a competitive advantage for now and is also paradoxically a well-worn ruse used to rid states of credits altogether. Tom Cruise, the top decision maker for that film shot here in Mass, is not just an attached star someone can claim is overpaid. He was an executive producer and the reason that the $80 million movie could be justified anywhere is his box office draw. This justifies any expenditures on the venture to begin with and he spent much of it here in this case.

He also paid Massachusetts taxes on his earnings! If he was limited to only qualifying $1 million, instead of $20 million, we would have lost all those taxes. And remember, film is forever – Cruise will make money on that film and his estate will as well long after he dies. Taxes will be paid to Massachusetts long after all of us are dead and gone for that film having been made here.

And remember, Tom Cruise and his partners had to prove every expense on KNIGHT AND DAY up
front to qualify for the credits. It is akin to saying I want the Patriots to win the Super Bowl (see the Article by Carl Hansen of Beverly on page 12), but Tom Brady or other marquee household name athletes in general are being paid too much so let’s cut their salary options down in our team budget. That will not get you past the Falcons in Atlanta, Georgia which coincidentally enough is one of our biggest current competitors in the locations game of big ticket movie making.

It’s apparent we’ve lost the Senate for the moment because some newer members have different views or have not been fully assisted in understanding our issues in a manner they can relate to. There are only 40 possible Senate members (38 votes possible given 2 current vacancies) but you can see if one supportive member leaves office and is replaced with an opponent within a few years we end up with a full 23 members standing in opposition to our point of view. We really have work to do with so much at stake.




Read on

Take 2: April 2017

A Letter From The Publisher, Carol Patton

Carol Patton Imagine News Publisher2017 is shaping up to be New England’s best year ever! It’s very promising for Massachusetts with four major productions shooting or prepping this spring and several other productions now scouting for the summer and fall. In or coming in early are DADDY’S HOME 2 with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, THE BURNING WOMAN with Christina Hendricks, PROUD MARY starring Taraji P. Henson and Happy Madison is back with a new Adam Sandler project. It’s exciting! I just can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.

Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame stars in THE BURNING WOMAN set to film in Boston. Photo courtesy of blogspot.com

This is a Special Edition of IMAGINE that will be shipped by the thousands to AFCI’s Locations & Global Production & Finance Conference in LA and to NAB in Las Vegas. We put them right into the hands of thousands of studio, network, agency and content creators. At AFCI alone over $3 Billion
in production location spend is up for grabs! That’s why this issue is so important.

robert redford
Robert Redford sent a letter of appreciation to Newport R.I. He’s been on location there twice– in 1974 with THE GREAT GATSBY and in 2016 with DISCOVERY, which recently had its first premiere in Newport. He sent the city a lovely letter recognizing them for their hospitality.

Recently Rober Redford’s THE DISCOVERY had its first Rhode Island premiere at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport. Redford wrote a letter to the citizens of Newport and Rhode Island. In it he said, “I have had the privilege of working on two films in Newport, the first time in 1974 with THE GREAT GATSBY and most recently on THE DISCOVERY.”

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to become reacquainted with the City and its people. I was pleasantly surprised some forty years later the City looks and feels almost exactly as it did when I first came here. I commend the community for its vision and care demonstrated to ensure for the preservation of its historical and culturally significant properties.

“Finally, I was most appreciative of the hospitality extended to me and my colleagues during our stay in Newport. For me, the welcoming and warm spirit of the community will not soon be forgotten,” Robert Redford wrote.

The first premiere of Robert Redford’s DISCOVERY was held at Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, RI. Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film with Actor Jason Segel and writer/director Charlie McDowell. Photo by Lew Place.

I celebrated the Academy Awards at the Red Carpet soiree in Providence Rhode Island, which was produced by Flickers Founder George Marshall with Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film Office serving as Honorary Chairman. It was an exquisite glittery evening held in the ballroom of the Providence Biltmore. In addition to the Academy Awards, local awards were issued as well.

I wrote a small piece in this ediition about the Museum of Broadcast Technology because it does symbolize the great technology found here in New England since the early 1900s and the technology that is being used around the globe that is emanating from right here in the greater Boston Area now.


Izotope Neutron – This revolutionary software visualizes mixes with frequency spectrum analysis and allows you to mix in ways you never imagined you could. Photo courtesy of Izotope.

Our Tech Edge will give you some insight into this plethora of industry related software from companies like BorisFX, EditShare, Facilis Technology and Izotope, whose latest offering is called Neutron. Steve McGrath calles it borderline scary. He says, Izotope has created plugins and tools that really ride the fine line of innovative and job threatening. Their plugins work so well, that audio engineers have to feel threatened by it, but are so easy to use that anyone can get going on them and improve their audio mixes.

We’re fortunate to have a goodly number of state-of-the-art studios and post production facilities – award winning, really. Charles River Studios at High Output, New England Studios, Red Sky Studios and others are reporting a full house with lots of activity in the pipeline, as is the Production Center at WGBH – the Grandmother of local productions in Massachusetts and I want to include the City of Newton’s shining light with superb production facilities, a stage and a screening room, NewTV.

This edition of IMAGINE contains our 2017 New England Production, Resource & Location Guide. Thank you to everyone who participated. You have done your part to help us create the content and substance of this important outreach for our industry.

Get ready for two big IMAGINE celebrations. We have much to be thankful for – especially our readers and advertisers. Without you, this would not be happening. The Magazine will turn nineteen in April and our next edition will be number two hundred! Need I say we are excited? Watch for special offers and partying details.

And to our decision makers in LA, Las Vegas and everywhere, the talent and technology you find in these pages will make your projects shine. When you have a minimum spend of $50 thousand dollars, you can earn rebates and transfers equal to 25% of qualified spend.





Read on

Take 2: Feb-March 2017

I hope you enjoy this abbreviated edition of IMAGINE Magazine. It wasn’t scheduled as we wanted to dive right into our mega March and April Special Editions that include our 2016 New England Production Guide and our NAB focused edition. Each gets important distribution at AFCI’s Locations & Global Finance Show in Burbank and at NAB in Las Vegas.

However, two things happened, AFCI moved their show from early March to late in April almost immediately after NAB, also Governor Baker announced that he would be making what he called “modest adjustments” to the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit Law. I had to make the decision to make major adjustments to our publishing schedule.

Needless to say, An Act to Promote Sustainable Economic Development in Massachusetts is unacceptable to our industry. I’ve digested the bill and have written my thoughts; you can read them starting on page eight. As you might guess, I have quite a lot to say. Now, it’s left to mount another great defense.

A far more delightful and pleasant topic is IMAGINE’s Industry New Year’s Celebration & “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala held at the majestic Royal Sonesta Hotel in their Riverfront Room. The hotel staff created exactly the setting I had envisioned. This was a cocktail buffet occasion to remember. The food was beautifully presented and was scrumptious. I can’t say enough about what a charming and as always “magical” evening it was.

Kudos to everyone who worked tirelessly to make this event extremely special, it couldn’t have been done without you! The highlights, of course, are our inspirational honorees. Our newest “Imaginnaires” are Melissa McMeekin, a Boston based actor, writer and director; Douglas Trumbull, the legendary filmmaker and visual effects pioneer; Elika Portnoy, Executive Producer of BEASTS OF NO NATION and an actor living in Boston; Erica McDermott, actor model and funny girl who played Mary Bulger in BLACK MASS and our Shooting Star award went to Seth Chitwood, a prolific young writer, director and actor who has received eight LAWEBFEST awards.

Awards were presented by Angela Peri, Co-owner and Casting Director of Boston Casting, Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, Christy Cashman, President of Saint Aire Productions, Don Packer, co-owner and Senior Editor of Engine Room Edit and actor, producer, TV show host Jan Waldman respectively.

The program was graciously coordinated by the thoroughly entertaining and masterfully funny Tiffany Crosby. She is a terrific M.C. I am so grateful for her, all our honorees, presenters, and everyone who attended. Again, I have nothing but praise for the Royal Sonesta Hotel and its thoughtful and responsive staff. Enjoy our photos here and see our video at www.imaginenews.com.

Our next edition will be our 2016 New England Production Guide. It’s a 411 for New England and we’ll publish it in print and online, where it will stay 24/7/365 until we publish our 2017 one. You’ll want to be a part of it as we take it to Burbank and give Hollywood a big shout out about what we have to offer here in New England. See our information on page four or contact me for more details.

Read on