Take Two: Spring 2020

Just a few weeks ago many of us were celebrating the beginning of the best year ever for our New England Film Production Industry. There were eight productions in Massachusetts alone along with major commercial productions hiring everyone who was available to work. The New Year of 2020 was promising to be our best ever.

And then, in as little as two weeks, all that activity began to grind to a halt. The coronavirus (Covid-19) came calling, and literally there will be no more martini shots for a while. How did that happen? How were we so blissfully unaware? How do all things change so quickly?

The world’s largest film festival, Cannes, has cancelled. NAB, which hosts almost 100,000 people each year, has cancelled along with Avid Connect attached to the NAB conference. And now the Nantucket Film
Festival has postponed its 25th Anniversary Celebration, but plans to screen later this summer.

As you can imagine, our Spring issue had to be completely retooled, reconfigured as one story after another became moot. However, as one might always suspect, we found replacement stories that we know you will enjoy.

Right now our major role to play is to play it safe and stay heathy. Social distancing, self-isolating, business shut downs, gloves, masks, gowns, hospital beds, more hospitals, ventilators, tests, more tests combined with most everyone out of work is presenting extremely difficult challenges. These situations will require all our strengths,energies and innovations to overcome.

We must use our imaginations to ideate other kinds of creativity that will hold us through this arduous process. We will overcome and we will do it together.

Fortunately our entertainment industry has a gigantic tool chest filled with opportunity for many of its participants. I suspect that a writer or solitary editor experiencing uninterrupted creative time might not be such a bad thing.

“Streaming” is positively the word of the day. Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Apple, Starz, all the streamers really know their viewing is going way up. Many others will jump on streaming to see what potential it has for them be they a studio to become facilitator or an entity that needs a facilitator or those that need content outlets. To come up to speed on streaming please read our Tech Edge “State of Streaming” by Steve McGrath in this issue.

Many in our industry are very self-entertaining. In addition, there’s enough content out there to not only find something of interest, but, for instance, do like actor/singer Andrea Lyman and take online
dancing classes. The available universe is filled with learning opportunities. If you’re a filmmaker and haven’t found one yet, check out WWW in this issue. We found one for you. It may be time to go back to school online.

Carol Patton with Representative Tackey Chan in his office on Beacon Hill chatting about his bill to end the “sunset date” for the Massachusetts Film Tax Credits. An IMAGINE Photo.

The near term isn’t at all clear right at the moment, but we know that when we are on the other side of this pandemic sweeping our nation and world, the work will be stacked up just waiting for all of us to do it. When that happens we’ll be back in business in no time. As one astute prognosticator I spoke to today speculated, when this is over our industry will be “more important” not “less important.” I dare to say that’s the truth.

Carol Patton and National Boston’s Chief Engineer Tom Sprague with an early celebration
of our New Year. An IMAGINE Photo.

Meanwhile, I’ll take a little time and space to look back at the beginning of what we thought our industry’s best year ever. First of all, the IMAGINE Industry New Year’s Celebration & “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala, held this year in the gorgeous Glass Room at the Tuscan Kitchen was amazing. We have a photo review for you in this issue. There was a lot of energy and talent in this room. Hats off to our Master of Ceremonies Erica McDermott.

IMAGINE Publisher Carol Patton with the Gala’s Master of Ceremonies Erica McDermott.
Photo courtesy of Erica McDermott.

And congratulations to all our new “Imaginnaires”, Jan Waldman, Eran Lobel, James Montgomery, Alecia Orsini Lebeda and Massachusetts Representative Tackey Chan.

I had the good fortune to attend a very special evening with James Montgomery, Judy Laster and Bestor Cram. They are, of course, a Blues Legend, Executive Director of the Woods Hole Film Festival and award winning Director, respectively. The James Montgomery Band performed with special guest Grace Kelly on Sax and we were shown scenes from their film JAMES COTTON: THEY ALL STOOD UP. Held in the Regatta Bar at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, it was a fundraiser for the film. A most enjoyable evening.

Carol Patton and Carl Hanson at the Boston
Sci-Fi Festival Shorts program. Carl flew in from LA to see his film I/O, which was very well
received. An IMAGINE Photo.

Good news for all future blockbusters that wish to film in Rhode Island. The law has been changed. When a production spends $20 million dollars in the ocean state, it is no longer required to spend 51% of its budget in the state. Look for a tent pole soon….

We have a terrific story about Worcester, MA writer Caitlin McCarthy. Be sure you read it. She really had a pleasant surprise on Valentine’s Day when she received an email from the Academy (as in Oscars)
stating that she was among the Top Ten highest scoring women in the 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. Her screenplay WONDER DRUG was among the Top Fifty in that contest out of over 7,000 entries.

“As part of the Academy’s efforts to support women in screenwriting, it has invited me to Los Angeles for the annual WGFestival screenwriting conference in Hollywood this May. The Academy’s Educational
Initiatives and Nicholl Fellowships departments are collaborating to host the WGFestival, a weekend of panels, workshops, and special events focused on the craft and business of writing for film and television.” Caitlin told IMAGINE Magazine.

I want to encourage everyone to follow all the CDC recommendations and those of the state you are in. Use this time creatively – learn, be entertained, practice, reach out to friends and colleagues, and most importantly stay healthy and connected.

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