Bay State beckons to pix
BOSTON — Nicholas Paleologos, a former seven-term Massachusetts state legislator, has been tapped to run the new Massachusetts Film Office.Paleologos has also served as producer or exec producer on films including “Ghosts of Mississippi” and “Hurlyburly” as well as Broadway productions including “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” and the 2002 revival of “Private Lives.” Appointment was the latest move in an effort to attract film production to Massachusetts. Last year the state enacted a series of tax incentives that could be worth up to $7 million on a given film project, depending on the size of the budget and the amount of money spent in state. Paleologos called the tax breaks “if not the most generous, then one of the most generous in the country.” There was still the problem of competing films offices. The old state film office, set up as part of the Office of Economic Development in 1979, was shut down in a budget cut in 2002. In the ensuing years, there was the Massachusetts Film Bureau, a private enterprise run by former film office head Robin Dawson, and a competing operation under the Massachusetts Sports and Entertainment Commission (MSEC), with film operations led by Mark Drago. Drago was dismissed last fall, and the MSEC came to an understanding with Dawson, now running the Boston Film Festival. She is advising the new operation and will shut down the private film bureau. Richard Krezwick, head of the MSEC, praised Dawson and said she had continued providing leads on potential film projects for the state. The new Massachusetts Film Office, led by Paleologos, will be part of the MSEC, which also runs a separate entity that tries to attract major sports events to the state. The MSEC is run independently but funded to the tune of $1.2 million by the state. Although Paleologos intends to reach out to the Legislature, newly elected Gov. Deval Patrick and other state and local officials, he will be responsible to the board of the MSEC. Paleologos started work on Monday and said he was already fielding calls from producers interested in filming in Massachusetts, and not just from the major studios. In addition to servicing Hollywood, he will aim to nurture homegrown talent — which his predecessors have not always made a priority. “We’re going to get our share of pictures because of the tax incentives and aggressive marketing. But I’d also like to focus on helping local filmmakers and documentary workers get to the next level,” he said.A key concern is overcoming the bad rep Massachusetts had developed with regard to problems for filmmakers created by local unions, particularly the Teamsters. Paleologos and Krezwick have said those days are gone, and that they have good working relationships with the new leadership of the Teamsters local, as well as with IATSE, SAG and other unions. Krezwick is on a Los Angeles trip looking to see what the studios want to know about the new deal in Massachusetts, and Paleologos is setting up his office. “Getting our house in order is going to be the single biggest challenge in the next few months or so,” said Paleologos, who hopes to announce the hiring of his No. 2, a director of operations, within a few weeks.