The Importance and Impact of Film Tax Credits

By Carol Patton

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.

certified cleaning company film set cleaners MA
Tom Derian, President of Certified Cleaning at Film Set Day. His poster says it all. An IMAGINE Photo.

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
Cape Cod Real Estate Broker, Terie Michon
combines her vast knowledge of the Cape and
her love of film to create, a concierge services company for studios, major producers and independent filmmakers. Photo courtesy of Terie Michon.

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 “” 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.

Four Seasons Boston Presidential Suite

Four Seasons Boston MA
Four Seasons Boston Director of Sales Jason Bossenberry. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Boston.

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.



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New Hampshire: Live Free and Film

Independent Filmmaking in New Hampshire

by Matt Newton

NH-portsmouthLet’s start by addressing the elephant in the room:

No, New Hampshire currently does not offer a tax credit for production.

If you’re still reading, then you’re likely to be an independent filmmaker who is interested in learning more about other benefits to filming in The Granite State.

Of course, there’s the obvious; no sales, use, or personal income taxes. There are no general filming permits, and every town and city offers its own unique helping hand.

Portsmouth is the go-to creative hub on the seacoast, with an economic development office that’s ready to aid filmmakers with even the toughest of requests. Manchester is your urban setting that routinely provides indie projects with whatever they need with as little as a phone call. Keene is a quintessential New England city, and the home of a robust film school program, where production assistants are ready to gain real-world experience on projects—all these areas are within a short drive to Boston.

But, filmmakers are not only limited to the southern part of the state.

Take a look at Claremont, New Hampshire. At first glance, you probably wouldn’t think that this old mill city along the Connecticut River is one of our more frequented filming locations. But Claremont is as film-friendly as they come, and a number of smaller independent productions have experienced just how wonderful Claremont can be. Simply put, Claremont gets it. They understand what kind of an impact filmmaking can have on their community and they go to the mat for filmmakers every time—and that’s the key benefit independent filmmakers should have in their back pockets—community buy-in.


New Hampshire State Parks are also very popular for films, TV, commercials, and photo shoots. With 75 state park properties throughout New Hampshire, there are diverse locales for every type of production. Permitting is painless—complete a short online registration form on our website and we’ll start the conversation with our friends at Parks on your behalf. In fact, we have representatives from many of our state agencies and associations on our Film Commission, so whether you’re looking to close a road, hire police details, or work with local businesses, there is always someone within easy reach of the Film Office to help lay the groundwork.


Filmmakers should know about the Team O’Neil Rally School in Dalton. A perfect location for filming vehicles and pyrotechnic effects in a controlled environment, the Rally School offers 6.5 miles of dirt and gravel roads on 600 acres of land for high speed chases located in a beautiful mountain setting in northern New Hampshire. The center is fully operational during winter months for snow and ice driving conditions (and if the weather doesn’t provide, snowmaking is available!) The center is located 10 minutes from I-93 (with close connection to I-91 in Vermont) and full visitor services available in nearby Littleton.

New Hampshire loves independent film. We believe in offering individual attention and a creative atmosphere, and we understand that a little Yankee ingenuity can go a long way in giving indie projects big production value on smaller budgets. Send us an email, give us a call, or even find us on Twitter! We’re looking forward to connecting you in with great locations and supportive people!


Efforts have been ongoing in bringing a production tax credit to the table. The New Hampshire Production Coalition, our industry association, has been working hard on this initiative. If you’re looking for more information, I encourage you to contact the NHPC, learn about what they are up to, and get involved. Visit their website at

Visit the New Hampshire Film & Television Office website at

Matt Newton is the director of the State of New Hampshire Film Office & Television Office.

All Photos courtesy of the New Hampshire Film & Television Office.

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Filming in Rhode Island

<h2>Finding Tax Incentives & Locations in the Smallest State with the Greatest Backlot</h2>

By Steven Feinberg

“Location! Location! Location!” The important magic words in a private conversation as to where a potential movie will be shot right after we’ve discussed the first question about what’s available for tax credit incentives.

The next questions that come up are often like these: “Do you have an abandoned high school where we can have zombies eating up people in the corridors?” “We need a small town train station we can control for a week because a loyal dog will be waiting for his master.” “Do you have any government buildings that can double as Washington, DC?” “Is there a boy scout camp anywhere?” “How about an idyllic lighthouse?”
RItheelmsFor over forty years, I’ve been making movies and whenever a conversation comes up about a movie searching for a home, it’s time to put on my “director’s cap” and try to anticipate the needs of the filmmaker by capturing photographs of the main locations or “anchor locations” which should best represent the production’s concept. For example, when Disney was looking for a home with UNDERDOG, the Rhode Island Film & TV Office spent a weekend taking approximately 250 photographs of the Rhode Island State House, downtown Providence, Hope High School, an affluent neighborhood in Cranston, and a lower income residential neighborhood in Providence, and photographs of the interior of the Cranston Street Armory and its vast marching hall, which ultimately housed the sets of the production. Ninety percent of those initial locations were used on the final film.
It comes down to the right aesthetic, along with the availability of the location and of course, is the price right?
Sometimes we only have a half day to find the spots. On other occasions, we may take days or a week to find locations which we hope will tickle the creative minds of the director and writer while also soothing the practical minds of the producer, line producer and production manager.

Confident that we’ve done our best, we send the images to the director and producer and creative team via email, or secure website and/or binders sent overnight, the creative team will typically come to the state for an on the ground visit. Because Rhode Island is only 48 miles long and 40 miles wide, we can cover lots of ground in a relatively short period of time. My office will typically be the first to contact the targeted location representative to discuss the potential opportunity and gauge their interest for making a movie on their premises.

As soon as there is major interest in the area, and the filmmakers are sparked to the idea of making their movie in Rhode Island, and mentally connect with the anchor locations they’ve seen so far, we often hand off the potential client (filmmaking team) to an experienced, local location scout who can dedicate their full-time energy on this one project, and provide additional locations and follow up with specific details regarding the production and required dates for filming.
When an owner of a location likes the idea of filming at his or her establishment, then comes the important negotiation. How long does the production company need the space? How much are they willing to pay? What are considerations required to ensure that the place will be returned to its previous condition or better?! These are things that are privately discussed, along with insurance policies and legal paperwork.
It’s essential that both filmmakers and owners protect their interests. Do not take this lightly! Accidents happen! Rules and regulations about a particular location should be made in writing! Anticipate worst-case scenarios so you each can protect yourselves. You don’t want any surprises. I cannot stress that enough. If there is a particular stone surface that could be damaged by a vehicle’s weight, etc, that area should be protected and both owner and filmmaker should be responsible to ensure that this is a positive experience. Remember: When you are making a movie, you don’t just represent your one production, but you represent the overall film community and if you screw up, you make the entire film world look bad. Be the best you can be and always strive to leave a positive footprint behind.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, please ask a professional location scout or call your local film office for advice. We’re here to help you!
Now beware the frenzied zombies stalking the corridors and go play among the marble pillars of the Newport mansions or the wondrous Woonsocket train station or Wes Anderson’s favorite campgrounds or even better…. simply discover your own, hidden, movie magic jewel and shine!

Steven Feinberg is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film Office, serving the Ocean State where he was born and raised and to where he returned after becoming a veteran filmmaker in LA. He fired up the film community and the legislature in 2004 to be the first New England State to offer significant Film Tax Credits.

All photos by Lew Place , courtesy of the Rhode Island Film Office.

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