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State breaks help effects shops grow

Scout & About: Massachusetts 2012

Two-and-a-half-year-old Boston visual effects studio Zero has been thriving on locally shot films, including recent clients “Here Comes the Boom,” starring Kevin James, and “The Way, Way Back,” starring Steve Carell. Now, it wants to take its business to the next level and work on films shot in other parts of the world.

“Should it be shot in Boston, fantastic,” says Marc Sadeghi, executive producer for Zero. “For us, it’s about hanging our hat on the quality of our work and to try to draw in business from the outside.”

As a measure of its success, Massachusetts’ film and TV incentive program has been able to attract not only visiting film and TV biz, but also the creation of permanent brick-and-mortar businesses such as Zero and other post and fx shingles.

“The value of that is tremendous, because as you build these businesses, more people stay here, more people buy homes, and you create a whole new industry that didn’t exist to anywhere near the level it’s getting to here now,” says Don Packer, co-owner of Engine Room Edit.

But not everyone is over the moon about the incentive’s ability to attract post-production biz.

“I wouldn’t say the post industry has grown by leaps and bounds here like in other markets such as Atlanta and Louisiana,” says Michael Fallon, co-founder and executive producer at the Boston post-production services company Locomotive. “You might equate that to not having an additional incentive for hiring local companies.”

He adds that in Massachusetts, “you can still get a tax break bringing in post-production equipment during production, so on the larger features we’ll see big companies like Company 3 or PhotoKem come in with their dailies systems and hire people on the production payroll to run them. That’s the beginning of post-production, so it feeds the loop back to L.A., where I think they prefer to do their full post.”

Others, however, have made concerted efforts to keep post in-state to maximize their tax credit. Disney, for example enlisted three Massachusetts vfx houses — Synthespian Studios and Sandbox FX in the Berkshires and Brickyard Filmworks, a Boston-based effects studio founded by Geoff McAuliffe and Dave Waller in 2008 — to work on the 2009 film “Surrogates,” starring Bruce Willis.

“With the tax incentive, but also with the new digital age, people are realizing you don’t have to work in close proximity anymore,” says Tyler Haywood, an art director and 3D artist with Boston’s BrewHouseVFX. “So we’ve been pretty busy over here.”

Scout & About: Massachusetts 2012
Bay state’s boom based in tax breaks | Snapshots from three recent shoots | How ‘Grown Ups 2’ built set from scratch | Hollywood in the Berkshires | State breaks help effects shops grow | Industry org promotes incentives, job creation | Mass production

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