Let’s start with the good news. The spring is blossoming with new productions in New England. In Massachusetts, it’s busy. Mark Damon and Ben Affleck reunite with INSTIGATORS set in Massachusetts. The team just finished principal photography in Boston. Their second unit will begin this week in the area of Storrow Drive and Memorial Drive. That’s my neighborhood. I’ll be looking out for them.
The Matt Damon/Ben Affleck duo star in the film; Ben is also one of the writers. They are both producers. The plot follows two robbers who must go on the run with the help of one of their therapists after a theft doesn’t go as planned. Hmm.
Feature film MY EX FRIENDS WEDDING is about to shoot this week on Cape Anne. A brief synopsis is, “On the eve of their former best friend’s wedding, four of their childhood friends receive a drunken voicemail from her, confessing that she believes she is making a mistake. The four friends then decide to stop the wedding.” What could go wrong?
Martha’s Vineyard is Bravo’s new reality series, a spinoff of Summer House, that is set to premiere Sunday, May 7 at 9 p.m. ET.
The new show features an all-Black cast vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, an island south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and one of the first beach destinations where African Americans could vacation and purchase property.
The cast features Nicholas “Nick” Arrington, Jasmine Ellis Cooper, Silas Cooper, Jordan Emanuel, Bria Fleming, Shanice Henderson, Amir Lancaster, Jason Lyke, Preston Mitchum, Summer Marie Thomas, and Alex Tyree.
And the PERFECT COUPLE also begins this week. It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer-the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.
But it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony-and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom’s famous mystery- novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect. THE PERFECT COUPLE will shoot on Cape Cod and in Boston.
So, the spring will be busy, and I can see that major projects are scouting for summer and fall. We have our unfettered film tax credits to thank for that. We are fortunate to not be in the same disarray as most of the rest of the world. Much of which is in disarray.
However, we must pay attention as this business is very competitive. And there are pressures that we have no control over.
Fortunately, and unlike the rest of the world, our industry here is not in disarray. But in many areas of the country and world, this industry is in a state of negative flux. Production budgets are being cut all around us from Showtime here in the USA to the BBC in London. Showtime has whittled down its development slate, passing on a slew of projects.
The belt-tightening at the BBC has revealed that it will cut its television originals budget by close to £100M ($123M) over the next twelve months as its funding freeze bites. The BBC’s TV budget will decline by £96M from £1.84B to £1.75B over the coming year. The vast majority of the TV budget is spent on original shows. On the bright side, the BBC appears to be reconsidering the termination of BBC 4.
Add to this, investments in infrastructure are temporarily/cautiously on hold as the world banking situation is calmed and the Unions work solutions and new agreements with AMPTP.
According to Deadline, “Leaders of the Writers Guild of America won’t discuss the specifics of the contract proposals they’ve exchanged with the Alliance of Motion Picture Television Producers. But they are making it abundantly clear that a deal can be reached without a strike if the companies take the needs of writers seriously.
“We want to make a deal. It’s our goal to make a deal,” said Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA negotiating committee and a past president of the WGA West. “But just as important, there are lists of things that need to be accomplished for writers that cannot be put off anymore. We need a partner to do that – the AMPTP…
“The WGA is not seeking a mere adjustment in the way writers are paid, but rather a complete overhaul of the pay scales it had bargained for with the AMPTP in recent years.”
Chris Keyser, by the way, is the show runner and producer of Julia, a great TV series, which has shot two seasons right here in Boston and a Harvard alum.
Obviously, if there is a writer’s strike, that will greatly impact the production calendar.
I remember when the last writer’s strike occurred, Academy Award winning Ernest Thompson was receiving an “Imaginnaire” Award. As he was proceeding to the stage to accept, he snatched the previous awardee’s acceptance speech out of her hand. At the podium he explained that under the restrictions of the writer’s strike, he could not write his own acceptance speech. So, he used hers. Perhaps you had to be there, but it was very funny, and the audience loved it.
I don’t know about you, but my inbox has been inundated with all the opportunities to accept/buy AI – all the varieties. I must have received at least one hundred messages of various kinds about the “miracles” of the newest technology.
I have also gotten a number of cautious messages suggesting that the employment of AI be postponed for the summer so that experts can evaluate the upsides and downsides of this new phenomenon.
Even the WGA and PGA are in conversations about it – could AI (which ever one) write a script? How would that be handled in the credits? At the Oscars? I think this is a dilemma in our future to work out.
An open letter with signatures from hundreds of the biggest names in tech, including Elon Musk, has urged the world’s leading artificial intelligence labs to pause the training of new super-powerful systems for six months, saying that recent advances in AI present “profound risks to society and humanity.”
Is humanity is sleepwalking into catastrophe?
Send me your thoughts on this at publisher @ imaginenews.com
Our spring edition is filled with surprises. Becki Dennis has moved back from LA to Boston. Imagine that? Of course, we are thrilled and welcome her back. Read Hartley Pleshaw’s story in this issue.
What’s more, Christy Cashman, an IMAGINE favorite appearing on more than twenty-six covers of IMAGINE, has written a novel that will be released later this summer in August. “The Truth About Horses,” a subject Christy is more than qualified to speak to as she has been a “horsy girl” since she was three. I highly recommend it. Read my story about it in this issue.