New film incentives attracts shoots

“Be careful what you ask for,” advised Massachusetts Film Office director Nicholas Paleologos with a smile.

Thanks to the state’s newly renovated film incentives, film production in Massachusetts, which struggled along at one or two pics per year, has ballooned to an anticipated six or seven features shooting simultaneously in spring.

Touted as the second-most film-friendly state after New Mexico, Massachusetts has upped the incentives ante by allowing filmmakers to take credits as a direct rebate at 90% of face value (guaranteed); the filmmakers can sell the credits at a market rate or carry them forward for five years.

In addition, those who shoot half a movie or spend half of a production budget in the state are eligible for 25% of the total spend. Producers can also obtain a 100% sales tax exemption on production-related items purchased in-state at the start of pre-production and continuing for 12 months.

Local indie and docu filmmakers also benefit now that digital media projects are eligible, while the spending threshold has been lowered to $50,000.

“Losing most of ‘The Departed’ to New York and Canada was the catalyst for improving our film lure,” Paleologos said. “Now our biggest challenge is expanding our crew base.”

Helping to meet that need is an estimated 37% increase in IATSE membership in response to the state’s increased production schedule.

“New people are coming to the state for jobs, and those that would have left are staying,” Paleologos added.

Among the productions slated for lensing in Massachusetts are Paramount’s Leonardo DiCaprio starrer “Shutter Island,” directed by Martin Scorsese and based on the Dennis Lehane book; Disney’s “The Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis, and “The Proposal”; Columbia/Sony’s “Mall Cop”; and New Line’s “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” with Matthew McConaughey.

The bottom line always says it best, and the commonwealth’s film coffers have clearly benefited from a production boost: Film revenue for 2008 will be an estimated $200 million-plus for 2008 after $125 million for 2007 — and just $6 million in 2005.

Other recent productions filmed in the state include “27 Dresses,” “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Great Debaters” and “Pink Panther 2.”

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Location managers touted their photographic skills last week in the exhibit and catalog “Concentric Circles: Metro L.A. Revealed.” The event, a collaboration between the Location Managers Guild of America and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, showcased the otherwise mundane Los Angeles Metro system and surrounding areas in artistic photos. Location scouts and managers operated in concentric circles to find their shots.

“Board chairman Orin Kennedy has long held, and the LMGA believes, that since location professionals are key members of the creative team and often the ‘first eyes’ on location for a film or television production, presenting the photography of location managers and scouts as art changes the conversation about the largely unseen and not well understood work of its members,” said LMGA prexy Kayla Thames-Berge.

Proceeds from the event, held at the Venice, Calif.’s, Beady Minces Gallery — which is also available for film shoots — will help the guild further its mission: raising awareness of its specialized craft.

Gallery curator Peter Mays presented the LMGA with Art & Living magazine’s “Art to Life” Award for its contributions to the cultural life of Los Angeles.

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