Jim :: Business Owner, Gaffer

save-ma-film-jobs_0195My name is Jim Hirsch. After graduating in 1981 with a degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, I started work in Boston in the local film business. Initially a set carpenter, I changed my focus to the electric department and began to work as a gaffer in 1983. Eventually, I teamed up with John Cini and, in 1986, we founded High Output, Inc., now New England’s largest lighting and grip company. Shortly after, we opened Charles River Studios. I have worked on feature films, but most of my work has been on tons of TV shows and thousands of television commercials. Since starting my professional life, I’ve lived in Brookline with my beautiful wife and two wonderful daughters.

Before the film tax incentive, the Massachusetts market had an occasional feature film and usually just a portion of the production was shot here. The film tax incentive changed everything, taking what was a small commercial market to a major filmmaking industry.  It’s all about the jobs. This industry created thousands of lucrative direct hires and countless indirect jobs at companies like mine. Naysayers complain about the portion of the credit that goes out of state. What’s important is not what leaves, but what stays, and it’s overwhelmingly a benefit for the state. I have seen criticisms of the box office revenue of some our larger films. We make our living making the film, hoping it does well, but that outcome doesn’t affect our income. Everyone in the industry knows that if the film tax incentive is eliminated, we will go back to the small business we had before.  Where does that leave the hardworking crew?

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