My name is Virginia Johnson, and my spouse of fourteen years (and counting) is assistant prop master Noah Dubreuil. I am a costume supervisor and designer as well as a small business owner.
Noah and I opened Gather Here Stitch Lounge in Cambridge four years ago with our hard-earned money from working in the film industry and with the help of our local film industry friends. From carpenters and painters, to stitchers and extras casting directors, we relied on the sweat equity provided by the people we had worked with over a decade in the film community. All of them helped make our dream a reality. We continue to work in the film industry, even with a successful business that employs eight people and grows more each year. Gather Here provides space, inspiration, and supplies for a wide range of makers all over Greater Boston. It’s one of my favorite places in the world and it would never have come to be if I hadn’t made a decent living working on films made in Massachusetts.
Last year, I was the costume supervisor on the film Black Mass. I was fortunate to work full-time for 25 weeks, often working six days a week and sacrificing time spent at my own small business. At the height of filming, we employed 16 local costumers, tailors, and fitters in our department alone. We also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on dry cleaning, manufacturing, purchasing, and more in Boston. As the keeper of my department’s budget, I know where each and every penny was spent: the $39,000 in dry cleaning would never have been spent if we hadn’t been making a movie; the $125,000 in manufacturing at an Everett clothing factory wouldn’t have happened without the movie; the purchase of $10,000 in racks and hangers from a local store fixtures warehouse is a healthy bonus during a struggling economy.
The loss of the film tax incentive means the loss of a major source of income taxes — my income tax, and the income tax of my hardworking colleagues. It also means we will redirect our own spending for our small business from local Massachusetts-based businesses to other less expensive alternatives that will likely be out of state.