Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Movies in Massachusetts

I went to a lunch today at the Boston Harbor Hotel, which featured Nick Paleologos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Film Office, as a speaker. Paleologos talked about how new tax incentives for film production, put into place in January of 2006, have made the Bay State a popular destination for film crews. (There is now a 25 percent tax credit for all spending movie productions do in the state.)

Some of my rough notes from Paleologos' talk:

    - Three movies currently shooting in the state: 'Pink Panther 2,' 'Bachelor #2,' and 'The Women.' ('Pink Panther 2' had been considering shooting in Rhode Island. The movie is set in Paris.... which looks a lot like Cranston.)

    - Louisiana was the first state to start offering tax credits for film productions

    - Paleologos traces movie shoots in Boston back to the original 'Thomas Crown Affair,' starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, which was made in the late 1960s

    - Before the tax credit, there were five major movies shot in Massachusetts in seven years; after it, there have been six made here in two years. And many of that earlier crop spent as little time and money as possible in Massachusetts..."Perfect Storm' cost $140 million to make, but only $3 million was spent in the state. 'The Departed' cost $90 million, but only $6 million was spent here. More recently, Massachusetts has been getting a much bigger chunk... of the $30 million budget of 'Gone Baby Gone,' half was spent here. The movie '21,' about the MIT poker team (and starring Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Bosworth), spent $30 million of its $42 million budget in the state.

    - There are two big challenges going forward. One is "meeting the crew demands," Paleologos said. Next year, there could be four or five movies shooting here simulteously, which will require lots of local workers. The second will be a soundstage, to allow more indoor shooting to be done here (and bring more film production to Massachusetts in the winter months.)

    - David Kirkpatrick, formerly president of Paramount Pictures, was at the lunch, and he chimed in on Challenge #2. Kirkpatrick is part of a group that's trying to bring a large production facility to Plymouth. He said they're doing a feasibility study now, and the best-case is that a facility would be open in 3.5 years, at the earliest. Kirkpatrick also talked a bit about trying to create an incubator there for visual effects talent, so that grads from local universities would have opportunities to work here, rather than having to relocate to the Left Coast. (The biggest visual effects shop in the state, North Adams-based Kleiser-Walczak, is fairly small, but works on many big-budget projects.)

    - Production Guide magazine put Massachusetts in the #2 position on a recent list of the five best states to make movies in (one notch down from New Mexico, but a notch above Connecticut, which offers a 30 percent tax credit.)

    Basically, Paleologos gave the impression that film production is one area where Massachusetts is aggressively marketing itself, and trying to make it economically appealing to come here...with a big assist from the Governor and the legislature.

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