My wife and I grew up in Massachusetts. We were high school sweethearts. Our families and friends live here. Our three boys go to school here, our community is here, our lives are here.
I started working in the film and TV production industry in Massachusetts as a production assistant in 1998. In 2006, as a result of the film tax incentive being passed the year before, my career really took off. As a video assist operator, I set up monitors so that the director, producers, and other crew members can watch what is being filmed. I also use digital recording equipment so that I can play back any take, from the first day of shooting to the last.
Over the years, I have purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment that I rent to film and commercial production companies on each job that I work. Recently, I have been able to train and provide equipment for other video assist operators, so that if I am working on one job they can take my extra equipment to work on another job. This has provided both additional income for me and jobs for other Massachusetts residents. These jobs would have gone to operators from other states if I had not been able to grow my business. I would not have been able grow my business without the tax incentive bringing so many film productions to Massachusetts.
In 2013, my wife and I had saved enough money to buy a home in the town where we both grew up — our own place, right down the street from the elementary school where my wife has taught for the last 15 years. Without the film tax incentive, film production companies will choose to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars they currently spend in Massachusetts in other states.
Without those jobs, I and hundreds of other crew members will find it difficult — perhaps impossible — to make a living here. If the incentive goes, many of us will go with it. If I can’t continue making a living here, Massachusetts will lose not only the tax base from my salary, but also my wife’s — not to mention one of the best elementary school teachers in the state. We will be forced to look at uprooting our family, moving away from the friends, family, and community we love here, to a state like Georgia that has made their film tax incentive a permanent part of their budget. In Georgia, the incentive is not up for debate every few years. This has allowed the industry there to grow much faster than it has here. Instead of threatening to kill a growing industry that provides thousands of jobs and brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the state, we should be looking at ways to make the film tax incentive a permanent part of the tax code.