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The business of film, television & new media production in the Northeast
imagine magazine logo
The business of film, television & new media production in the Northeast

Paul Boghosian, Carol Patton and Dennis Serpone at the Nantucket Film Festival’s Screenwriters Tribute at the ‘Sconset Casino. Photo by Dennis Serpone.

Industry-wise it’s been an exciting summer for New England. Everybody I know is working! The studios are full, actors are working three, four, and five days a week, rental companies can’t get a day off and whether you are a prop, make-up, grip or electric, costumer, stand-in person (and all the others that make a film set tick), you’ve had a very profitable and demanding summer here in New England and especially in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Most are feeling really great about it and guess what?

It appears as if the deluge of work is going to continue through fall and winter!

Suffice to say, our production industry has heated up and we need it to stay exactly that way. One of our concerns for the good of the industry right now is the looming deadline to our film tax credit incentive program. Otherwise everyone’s doing cartwheels.

Our 25% Film Tax Credit program is the only and I repeat the only reason studios and major producers bring their productions here even though we have everything a producer could hope for in our region. If we modify our film tax credits or if the sunset date is not eliminated, Disney or no other studio will bring work here.

Well, in Massachusetts, all good things don’t need to come to an end and that’s why our industry as a whole is supporting legislation to eliminate the end date to our existing law, which explicitly ends at the end of 2022. We fought so hard for this incentive program back in 2005 when it finally was enacted
to take effect in 2006. The bill wasn’t perfect, but we were able to “fix it in post” the following year and later extended the end date to 2022, actual January 1, 2023, which sounds far away, but it isn’t. Not if you are the bean counter for a major studio or network who plans series to last five to
seven years and blockbuster movies three to four years out. This is our dilemma at this very time! The solution?

Eliminate the sunset date of our existing law. Change nothing else and that’s imperative. Unless, of course, the tax credit could be lifted to 30% so we can compete with other states that have done so including Rhode Island.

I’ve been working at this for a long time I introduced film tax credits in IMAGINE in 2002 and wrote a definitive piece in IMAGINE October 2014 on how to make film tax credits work here. We have defended
them since to establish a new industry for the Commonwealth, no one else could see, but it was as plain as the nose on my face when I arrived here in 1996. We can be a major production center in the world.

I know there is untold amounts of money sitting on the fence to invest in infrastructure in Massachusetts, only to be waiting for the “elimination” of our film tax credits’ end date.

Yes, it’s true, Massachusetts will be examining all film tax credits next year! What does that have to do with our production industry? Nothing, really, if you examine the reasons all tax credits are being looked at. Keep this in mind when you talk to your legislators. Most tax credits are based on an industry or company’s future performance – building so much, hiring so many, etc. That can be “iffy” and many times promises for tax credits are not kept.

Here is what is important to know and remember. Film Tax Credits in Massachusettsare only given after a production has performed, after it has spent their money here and provided an affidavit duly certified by a Massachusetts CPA that the money has been spent. While creating thousands of jobs, a production pays for everything it uses while it’s here; it cleans up after itself once
it’s done. And if a production has anything left over, it donates it to our Massachusetts charities.

I just attended a most worthwhile hearing at the State House. A notable small business panel discussed how the looming film tax credit end date is hurting investment and threatening our local industry. Andrew Farnitano’s coverage is in this issue. Please read it.

Actor Frankie Imbergamo catches up with Popeye at the Encore Boston Harbor. The $28 million purchase raised some eyebrows, but company officials say the cartoon sailor is an invaluable part of the Encore Boston Harbor experience. Photo courtesy of Frankie Imbergamo.

The festivals this summer were outstanding! Woods Hole had over 6,000 visitors for its films. Who knew Woods Hole could hold 6,000 people?

Our IMAGINE House was a terrific success this year and I can hardly wait until next year when the Nantucket Film Festival will celebrate its 25th Anniversary. It’s going to be so big the festival is extending its celebration to a full week. Get ready for it! Read Paul Boghosian’s Nantucket Film
Festival experience in this issue. He gives you the big picture.

Congratulations to Andrea Lyman on her election to President of New England’s SAGAFTRA. I have admired Andrea and her work and industry participation since I first met her and I enjoyed writing this story. Since it is almost Halloween I must tell you this eerie tale she told to me that I didn’t have room to
print in her story.

IMAGINE this: Andrea recalls the time the location assistant on a pilot found a house that was actually a horrible mess instead of a mess that was “created” by the production art department. It smelled, there was a mouse running around and when we moved to another room away from the mouse someone noticed a hole in the ceiling. The make-up artist mentioned that was probably due to bats. We all were freaked out. Everyone left except the stand-ins because they wanted us there for an upcoming scene. One stand-in said, “Well, at least it couldn’t get worse” that’s when a PA came in and turned out the light because they were shooting a scene outside and couldn’t have light coming from the window. So there we
were contemplating our life choices as we sat in a dingy, dirty, dark filled room hoping mice and bats wouldn’t join us. Ah, showbiz is so glamorous?

RUNNER, Worcester, MA native Bill Gallagher’s life-affirming documentary about GUOR MADING MAKER, who ran away from his refugee camp in war-torn Sudan and ended up in New Hampshire when he was only nine years old, eventually becoming a running sensation and qualifying for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, won the Best of the Fest Audience Award. Photo courtesy of WHFF.

IMAGINE first became aware of A FOUR SIDED BED in October of 2012 when we featured it in our AFM Special Edition in an article we titled “A FOUR SIDED BED: Some Love Stories Have More Than Two Sides.”
The purpose of our AFM edition each year is to spotlight film projects in New England in any state of development that are seeking funding, a director, casting, a production company – any of the innumerable things you can find at AFM. However, A FOUR SIDED BED’s journey began even much before then. Read our story in this issue, it’s a story worth examination.

I can’t help but notice that Angel Connell’s EVENING OF THE EVIL EYE script has been accepted at over fifty film festivals and competitions, award-nominated forty times, and has won twenty-seven “Best Screenplay” certificates and prizes. It’s no surprise that Angel is on the lookout for serious investors interested in turning his short horror screenplay into a movie. His success has been global in scale. EVENING OF THE EVIL EYE has won awards in Australia, Canada, England, India, Italy, Japan, Spain and Venezuela among others. The script has also won awards at over a dozen state festival
throughout the United States. Believe me, all hell breaks loose in this script.

I’ve included fun photos from the summer here as well. I hope you enjoy them and this issue of IMAGINE.