LOCATION NEWS

COURTING MASS. PRODUCTION

Led by Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci, a delegation of several Massachusetts officials spent three days meeting with about a dozen studio execs and producers in an effort to spur more interest toward lensing in the Old Colony State.

Cellucci, shortly Massachusetts’ top politico pending the confirmation of Gov. William Weld as U.S. ambassador to Mexico, says the state’s greatest challenge is reminding mavens of the historical settings available as well as its proactive policy toward filmmakers. Cellucci last visited Hollywood in 1995.

His appointments earlier this week included meetings with 20th Century Fox prexy and chief operating officer Bill Mechanic and exec VP of feature production Joe Hartwick, DreamWorks head of feature production Michael Grillo, Interscope production exec Michelle Wright, Universal Studios production VP Andrew Given and Warner Bros. exec VP of production Robert Guralnick and features exec VP Steven Papazian, writer-exec producer David Kelley and prez Jeffrey Kramer of David E. Kelley Prods. and producer Richard Vane of Kennedy/Marshall Prods. Co.

“Certainly the scenes in Massachusetts have been underexposed,” Cellucci told Daily Variety, referring to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Boston Harbor. “We could not buy publicity that ‘Little Women’ and ‘The Crucible’ brings to the state.”

Cellucci also reminded studio execs of the state’s fee-free program offering parks, hospitals, beaches and other government-owned locations without charge, which is significant, because 6% of Massachusetts’ land is state-owned. Other potential incentives, according to Massachusetts officials, include cut rates on hotel and restaurants, as well as the Teamster reps agreeing to reduce minimum labor requirements.

While Massachusetts officials admit shifting production to the East Coast often costs more than lensing in Southern California, state representatives expect the mission will attract “more location-driven” filmmakers. Last year, Massachusetts production reeled in an estimated $45 million in revenue, and in 1995, the state generated a record $73 million in film and TV lensing.

Massachusetts will continue to offer to “cut the red tape,” such as when Weld called out the National Guard to daily ferry equipment and crew to Hog Island to film “The Crucible,” according to Robin Dawson, director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Film Commission launched its new website (www/otrd.state.ok.us/filmcommission), which explains its sales tax rebate program and offers location data.

The tax rebate, which averages 7% of each transaction, is available on all money spent that has a direct bearing toward the final product, including housing, catering, rental equipment, lumber and paint.

The Maps and Information area is a handy guide of rural and urban scenery, offering detailed description of potential pic locations.

The Arizona Film Commission has announced its first annual screenwriting contest, based on scripts using backdrops of the state. First-place winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood as well as meetings with literary reps and development professionals.

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