My name is Guy Holt, and I am a gaffer (chief lighting technician), father, homeowner, and Massachusetts taxpayer. I started working in film in Massachusetts in the mid-1980s. At that time, there was no film industry in Massachusetts to speak of, so I waited tables and worked in sales for several years while I built a lighting business — first out of my basement and then in the coal bin of an old mill in Arlington. I would have to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts to use the restroom or return pages. I eventually began to find regular work, lighting historical recreations and interviews for documentaries produced by or for WGBH. I was able to buy a house and start a family, but then the economy tanked and the amount of production dropped off. There were many times that I thought I would have to uproot my young family and leave the state in order to continue to do the work I am passionate about and support my family.
But then the film tax incentives were implemented and the local creative economy took off, which has enabled me to put my first two children through college. I won’t be able to give my youngest the same educational opportunities the other two had if Gov. Baker is successful in eliminating the incentives.
From my perspective, what has been missing from this debate thus far is the recognition that the incentives also support the production of quality television programming here in Massachusetts. The qualifying threshold to earn film tax credits was set low, at $50,000, so that local documentary and educational television production companies could benefit from the incentives as well. WGBH locally produces the “best television on television,” including such lauded programs as Masterpiece Theatre, American Experience, Frontline, Nova, and Antiques Roadshow, as well as children’s educational programming like Postcards From Buster. If we include production companies producing for The Learning Channel, The History Channel, The Nature Channel, and HBO, nearly three million dollars of tax credits went to supporting a vibrant and nationally recognized educational and documentary production community in Boston in 2013 alone. Without a doubt, the film tax incentives have made WGBH the flagship station of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and have helped create Boston’s image nationally and internationally as the Athens of America. I feel that is worth supporting.