Category Archives: Art Director

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My name is Jeremy Woodward. I was one of the out-of-state employees cited in the 2012 DOR report on the Massachusetts film tax incentive. At the time, I lived in Rhode Island and commuted to Boston for work. Today, I live in Massachusetts. My wife and I are both freelance designers. My work is in film and television, hers is in commercial photography. We used to have great film work in Rhode Island, and it made sense for us to live there for the lower cost of living. I had the pleasure of working close to home in Rhode Island on many excellent productions that took place in the Ocean State prior to 2011 when the RIFTC was capped. When it was capped, there was simply no more work for us in Rhode Island.

It soon became clear that Massachusetts’ film tax incentive was powerfully effective at attracting projects to the Boston area. So we determined it was time to move here, in order to spend less time commuting and more time with our children.  The Massachusetts incentive only subsidized 25% of a portion of half of our household’s income, but it was the tipping point that induced us to move here. When we moved from Rhode Island to Massachusetts, we brought with us all of our personal spending on groceries and property taxes and fuel and clothes and dentists and piano lessons and new soccer cleats for the kids. We moved the corporation we own to Massachusetts, which now pays taxes to the commonwealth. Additionally, all of our business spending now happens in Massachusetts instead of Rhode Island. My wife spends tens of thousands of dollars shopping for photo clients and is developing new relationships with retailers in Massachusetts, who are now the recipients of that money (much to the chagrin of her regular Rhode Island vendors). The film tax incentive is effective in bringing revenue to Massachusetts in so many ways that were not accounted for by the DOR in its report, and we are just one small example of that.

 

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My name is Aileen Sovronsky, and I have had the honor of working in the film business in Massachusetts for the last 25 years. I love what I do and I love living in Boston. I work on television commercials, television shows, and movies. I work in the art department as an art director, set decorator, art department buyer, and prop master.

We own a home in Dorchester and have raised two sons while working in the film business in Massachusetts. My children both went to Boston Public Schools and are now entering and completing college respectively. A big part of my job is to spend money on props and items to “dress” sets. This is money spent at local businesses, big and small. Our community has cultivated great relationships with vendors, and many of them count on the work brought to them as a direct result of the film tax incentive.

Our film community is a hardworking, dedicated “family” who support and care about each other. It will be crushing if the tax incentive is taken away. A thriving and successful industry will be destroyed, leaving many families in its wake.

Film=Jobs.

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My name is Agi Klausz, and I have worked my entire adult life in Massachusetts in the art department, starting as an art PA and working my way up to set decorator and art director. I’ve been at this for 30 years now.

In the early years, there were lean times, as Massachusetts was a pretty small market back then. The tax incentive absolutely changed all that. I have watched the industry grow leaps and bounds. I earn my living primarily working on commercials, but, these days, when work becomes spotty, I am able to jump on a movie and keep working.

The tax incentive has immeasurably improved the quality of my family’s life, because I now have steady employment. I provide health insurance for my family. It allowed me to raise my daughter in Boston so that she could be close to both of her parents. I have also seen the rise of an infrastructure that supports the film industry here, from prop houses to antique shops to furniture stores both large and small. There is a trickling down that happens that the governor just isn’t addressing.

The tax incentive mandates that we spend the money in Massachusetts, which has been a boon to countless businesses. The consequences of losing the film tax incentive would impact many more Massachusetts businesses and residents than “just” the movie people. So, if the film tax incentive goes away, it won’t be just the core group of film technicians who will lose their ability to earn a living, it will also be the countless businesses who have adapted their business practice to service the movie industry.

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My name is Lawrence Sampson and I work in the Massachusetts film industry.

Growing up in a working-class family in the suburbs of Boston, I always dreamed of using my artistic skills to work on movies. However, back then, the only real option to get into the industry was to move to California, which I couldn’t afford and didn’t want to do. I love Massachusetts; we have a great mix of everything, including amazing arts, education, nature, and hardworking people.

So I stayed and put my dreams aside, working at anything I could find that satisfied my artistic nature and abilities. Little by little, I inched my way into working on the small bits of film work there were here at the time — not enough to make it a career, but enough to learn. I did this for years, still in a bit of a limbo, until eventually Massachusetts began offering the film tax incentives. Suddenly, there was a real place for my fellow starving filmmakers and me to put our skills to work officially.

Since then, I’ve worked consistently on commercials, movies, and TV shows. I have met hundreds of talented people in what has become a thriving community of hardworking creative and ambitious people of all races and ages.

Now, because of all this, I’ve managed to stay in Massachusetts and start my own family, surrounded by my larger family, and have also been able to inspire and teach other kids who, just like me, were searching for a creative lifestyle.

I’ve taught production design at Emerson College, run puppet workshops for kids’ theatre, and mentored and guided many young hopefuls entering the business.

Everyone is born with a creative side, and it is your options in life that shape how or whether you can tap into it. Here in the Northeast, we have a long history of nurturing and promoting arts and education, which in turn has created a healthy, smart, strong, and well-rounded community. Some of these effects can’t be measured penny by penny, but rather by looking at the big picture of who we are and what we represent here.

The film tax incentive has been a huge influence on everyone I know, whether they are in the industry or not. For my job alone, I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars in local businesses and on hiring skilled craftspeople in Massachusetts, and I’m just one member of the film community. These are the types of financial and social benefits that are not included in the soundbites spewed about paying Hollywood bigwigs with your tax money. There’s much much more to it than that, and if you investigate further or take my story as one in many, you’ll see what a worthy benefit this has been and should continue to be for our state.

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My name is Paul Richards. I was born and raised in Massachusetts and I am one of the many the people who benefit from the Massachusetts film tax incentive. I am married and have two young children, ages 9 and 11. Our family has enough income to own a house, and my wife and I have enough free time to volunteer at the kid’s school and actively participate in our community.

I am an art director who has worked in the film business for 25 years, working all over the country and internationally. Prior to the enactment of the film tax incentive, I spent much of my time and discretionary income working out of state.  My prospects of a full-time film job in Massachusetts were rather dim, because we only had the occasional film project. All that changed in 2006, as a steady stream of projects came to Massachusetts as a direct result of the film tax incentive. I have been able to work here at home building a life and family. The idea of owning a home and saving for retirement was laughable before I joined the film industry. Because of the film tax incentive many other Massachusetts residents now have the same opportunity I have had.

If the film tax incentive is discontinued, my wife and I will have some hard choices to make. With our jobs and incomes eliminated, how will we replace them? Will there be other work in Massachusetts for two people over 50 years old who need to be retrained? Will we need to sell our house and find multiple low-paying jobs just to survive here in Massachusetts? Will we need to uproot our family to follow the work so we can provide for our kids?

Not all of the economic impact is quantifiable, and here is an example of an unaccounted-for benefit of the tax break: six months after the completion of photography for a Sony Pictures film, our producer called me to ask if I would organize a sale to dispose of the set decorating assets we amassed during the making of the film. To conduct the sale, we would need to hire a crew to sort, price, and run the sale, getting only pennies on the dollar for each item, spending more than he would get in return.

I suggested he could save money by donating the whole tractor-trailer load to a private nonprofit organization that serves at risk youth in the metro Boston area. The organization provides mentors, culinary training, and restaurant job placement to kids that would otherwise have little guidance navigating their way to adulthood. He liked the idea and approved it.

The youth organization was struggling to get funding because of the financial collapse, and donations had slowed to the point that they weren’t sure they would be able to make payroll. The film’s assets were worth tens of thousands of dollars, much of it purchased here in Massachusetts. I asked our local crew members to donate their time to help conduct the sale, and we raised over $10,000 in just a few days. Local residents got great stuff at super low prices and the youth organization got an infusion of cash.
I can state with confidence that nearly all the film spending being pumped into our local economy will cease to exist if the film tax incentives are discontinued. I have been in the room when producers are debating where their film will be made, and it always comes down to the bottom line. Massachusetts will no longer be competitive.

It is difficult to quantify the value of the tax credit, but that does not mean the positive effects do not exist — they do. I ask our representatives in government to take a deeper look at the issue and not rely solely on the Department of Revenue report; it is an incomplete measure of the economic impact of the film tax credit.

The film business provides good middle-class jobs, with health and retirement benefits.

We are creating more jobs for Massachusetts residents as our local crew becomes more experienced and they become department heads responsible for hiring, thereby decreasing the need for out-of-state workers.

I am grateful to the residents of Massachusetts for supporting our industry by taking the long view that skilled jobs are good for Massachusetts and that it is worth it to build an industry that makes a product that is exported all over the world.

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I’ve worked as a production designer (Infinitely Polar Bear, Crooked Arrows, Disappearances, Long Distance, Peace Love & Misunderstanding), art director (Social Network, Irrational Man, Mona Lisa Smile, The Buccaneers, State & Main, The Love Letter), and set designer and concept artist (Joy, Company Men, Zookeeper, The Age of Innocence, Moonrise Kingdom, Amistad). I’m leaving out a lot…

I live in Stockbridge, MA. I sit on the board of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative. My Massachusetts partners and I are currently developing a feature adaptation of Summer, Edith Wharton’s 1916 masterpiece of sexual awakening, which will shoot in western Massachusetts. The film tax incentives are critical to the viability of this splendid project.

I have worked in film in Massachusetts for thirty years. In the last decade, the film tax incentives have made an extraordinary difference in the viability of what was previously a chancy, random business. Our state representatives need to step back from narrow local perspectives and understand the investment needed to keep this vital and prestigious industry going.

I’ve worked all over the world — Germany, China, Louisiana, New York, LA. In all these places, state support is a critical magnet for projects. Without it, film production in Massachusetts will largely evaporate. Thousands of hardworking creative people will be pushed toward the welfare economics that this governor is disingenuously trumpeting.

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I’ve worked in the art department for films since 1995. In that time, I’ve raised my daughter, Magdalena (with her mom, Massachusetts film worker Jenny M.), bought my house, and paid my taxes. I’ve basically lived my entire adult life with paychecks earned from film production. Before the Massachusetts film tax incentives, much of the hard-to-find work was in Rhode Island, New York, or other states with good film incentive programs (as were the taxes I paid). The film tax incentives have made it possible to make a decent living at home in Massachusetts. If the tax incentives go, so will the jobs of thousands of very specialized craftspeople whose skills have little application outside their trade.

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My name is Alison Katinger.  I have been working in film, television, and commercials since 2000.  I was born and raised here in Massachusetts, and got my formative education in Massachusetts public schools, my undergraduate degree at UMass-Amherst, and my master’s degree at Emerson College.

However, after graduating, I had to leave this great state to find valuable work within my field. I had mounting student loans and simply couldn’t sustain myself here at home given the lack of film projects that were made in Massachusetts. I moved out to Los Angeles and began working on a variety of productions out there. The work was good, and I was able to make a decent living, but I was far from happy. The Bostonian in me missed everything that was on the East Coast: the culture, the food, my beloved sports teams (go Pats!), my friends, and — most of all — my family.

Then the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit came into being and everything changed. While still living in LA, I noticed more and more production companies heading out of California to shoot their projects in states that had tax incentive or credit programs – including Massachusetts. I was shocked to find I was now losing work to my hometown! Knowing I was a Massachusetts native, fellow LA residents, business owners, and industry crew began to complain to me about how much work Massachusetts “was stealing” from the folks in LA.  Projects that had previously planned to shoot in LA were now rescheduling and relocating to shoot to little ol’ Massachusetts because it had such competitive tax incentive — and they were bringing all of their millions of dollars with them to the Bay State.

It was a no-brainer.  I packed up and moved back to my beloved home state and I am now proud to work side-by-side with the incredible workforce and local businesses that make this state amazing.  I have been able to pay off my student loans, I am closer to friends and family, and my quality of life has increased tenfold.  The film tax incentives did all of that.

Naysayers will lead you to believe that cutting the film incentives will only affect a select few, many of whom are “Hollywood big-wigs” who don’t need the money anyway.  I am proof otherwise. Cutting it will cut my livelihood.  I am the face of the Massachusetts film tax incentives.

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My name is Cameron Keiber. I began working in the Massachusetts film industry 18 years ago, after graduating with a communication/film certificate degree from UMass Amherst — first at a local grip and electric equipment rental house, and then as an art director and union prop master and prop fabricator.

I’ve watched the regional film industry grow over the years due directly to the sheer number of productions that the film tax incentive has attracted here. Those productions created jobs and opportunities in our state and built the thriving film infrastructure that exists today.

The economic stability that the film tax incentive created in the state’s film industry made my wife and me comfortable buying a house in Boston, setting down roots, and raising our two children here. While I’ve worked on many of the feature productions and television shows that have filmed in the state in the last 15 years, the majority of my work is in the commercial and advertising side of filmmaking. The local commercial production industry is shooting ads virtually every week of the year, and it’s not uncommon for multiple commercials to be shooting in the same week, providing high-paying jobs for local crews.

As an art director/prop, every job requires me to source set pieces, props, and materials for the shoot, and 99% of those are bought or rented from Massachusetts vendors and stores. Living room and bedroom sets, picture cars, pictures on walls, expensive tech and TV — basically anything you see in an actor’s hand or that an actor sits on — and every material needed to build a robot suit or hamburger head puts money back into Massachusetts businesses. Productions are shooting here because of our competitive tax incentive. Productions are extremely cost conscious.

I have little doubt that should the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit be repealed, my family and I will be forced to relocated to a region that welcomes film productions or I’ll be forced to abandon the film industry and the infrastructure that we built here in Massachusetts altogether.

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