My name is Kevin Fennessy, and I’ve been a working member of the Massachusetts film community for more than 30 years. I started my career as an actor, segued into and worked for almost a decade as a casting director, and am now back to acting.
I’ve been a Massachusetts resident for almost all my life. I grew up in Cambridge, not far from the neighborhood I live in now. I began my career as an actor in Boston, and by the mid 80s, I was a member of all the acting unions, but I was still unable to support myself solely on acting work. The film work was too sporadic and seasonal: films rarely shot from November through March, and the ones that did shoot in Massachusetts did so because they “had to.” The stories took place here, and the big establishing shots and scenes were filmed here — scenes like “the rowers on the Charles”, “the Swan Boats,” and “Quincy Market,” scenes that needed the reality of the actual location. I moved to New York, where I did most of my on-camera work, while keeping a foot in the Boston theatre community.
In the mid-90s, I made a career change, and moved back permanently to Cambridge to begin working in casting, first as an assistant and then as an associate before opening Kevin Fennessy Casting. I was fortunate to get to work on many films during that period, but, for the most part, they were still only shooting partially on location.
The film tax incentive began just as I was making a choice to return to acting, and the increase in production has made it possible for me to supplement my earnings in local theatre, to make a living. My partner and I live in a Cambridge condo, pay taxes, and have a comfortable life. The year-round opportunities have made Massachusetts a viable choice for artists and technicians who in turn contribute to the artistic and cultural life of the Commonwealth.
The governor thinks that without the film tax incentive, films will continue to shoot here. Without the film tax incentive, there may be some productions coming to shoot locally, but it would be a giant step back to the days of Good Will Hunting — the great Boston story that shot mostly in Toronto.