Category Archives: Camera Assistant

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My name is Jill Tufts. I am a camera assistant. I came to Massachusetts in 1988 for college and stuck around after graduation to make a go of it in the city I’d come to love.

In the 90s, very few locals in the camera department would ever be hired to work on a big movie. I wound up traveling for ten years on documentary shoots. Colleagues left town for work on movies in New York or LA. For a long time, we didn’t see anyone new seeking careers in camera.

The tide shifted drastically about ten years ago. The tax incentive helps producers understand the value of hiring and filming here for the full duration of a project. As a camera guild steward for the region, I’ve witnessed our roster increase by leaps and bounds ever since. Super talented young people are finally pursuing camera work RIGHT HERE. Our members qualify for health insurance through work, rent and buy homes in the region, and, most importantly, stay close to their families.

My work has settled to be primarily Massachusetts commercial shoots, now benefiting from the film tax incentive. I’m able to be at home most evenings to tuck my daughters into bed, and to catch up with my husband, Patrick, who is also a cameraman in the business. We realize, firsthand, that if film tax incentives disappear, one, or both, of us will have to hit the road to work on projects shooting in states WITH incentives. That translates to less time with our family, and less time and money spent in Massachusetts.

Please consider the livelihoods that would be sacrificed for this misguided budget proposal.

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My name is Scott Lebeda, and I moved to Massachusetts (my wife’s home state) in 2007 to pursue a career in film and television. I have worked in the camera department for eight years, and I am a tax-paying citizen of Medway.

The film tax incentive is important to me because I have been able to build my career around my friends and family and not move across the country away from all of them. It is because of the film tax incentive that I am able to start my own family and my own production company.

The thousands and thousands of filmmakers that live and work in Massachusetts are a tight-knit family of hardworking middle-class citizens who deserve the right to make the state great! Massachusetts is my home and there is no other state where I would want to live and work.

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My name is Kyo Moon. I am a Local 600 DIT (digital imaging technician) in Boston. I moved to Massachusetts in 2009 and began my freelance camera career in 2011. Since then, I have moved my way up the ranks of the camera department with the help of many supportive ACs and DPs in the Boston film community. I have built a business that is growing every day, very soon to be incorporated. I rent gear to local productions, large and small, and to those that benefit from the Massachusetts film tax incentive. In addition to working as a DIT, I provide freelance coloring and post services, and I occasionally work as an AC on commercial and feature sets.

My wife and I were going to purchase our first home in the Boston area this spring, but since the security of the film tax incentive has come into question, we have had to give that up. If the incentive goes away, we will most likely have to move to a state that supports this industry. This will mean being forced to take my company elsewhere and uprooting the life we’ve built here in Boston.

It is important to let the film tax incentive run its course until at least 2023, as was intended and stated in the law. This will enable investments in this specialized industry to come to fruition, enable infrastructure to develop to its full potential, and allow the skilled labor force here in Boston to prove itself as a bona fide competitor in the industry. It is irresponsible to fund a tax credit program — which thousands of working families now rely on to make a living — only to abolish it before it has a chance to mature.

The film tax incentive means thousands of jobs for Massachusetts residents, substantial revenue and jobs for local businesses and vendors across the state, and critical opportunities for a skilled labor force to grow. Governor Baker, don’t pull the plug on my career — and the careers of many others like me.

save-ma-film-jobs_0025My name is Greg Wimer, and I’ve been a camera assistant in the film industry for 20 years. Although I live in Vermont, I have worked extensively in Massachusetts for much of my career. I have spent hundreds of days in Massachusetts hotels, bought groceries, eaten at restaurants, had my hair cut, done my laundry, had my car fixed, and paid many thousands of dollars in Massachusetts income tax.  There used to be film work here in Vermont, but without any significant tax incentives, production has almost entirely gone elsewhere. I have not worked in my home state since 2003. If the incentives are eliminated in Massachusetts, I can absolutely guarantee that there will be no more film production in the Commonwealth. All the work will go to states with incentives, like Louisiana and Georgia — both of which have established massively successful incentive programs and have created thousands of new jobs while at the same time promoting tourism and economic growth.

My mother, grandparents, and great-grandparents are all Bostonians. My great-grandfather came to Massachusetts in the 1920s from Sicily, escaping poverty and corruption and eventually opening a successful furniture store on Canal Street in Boston which he and my great-grandmother ran for many years. Through dedication and hard work, they made good lives for themselves during tough economic times. Those of us who have chosen to work in the film business, a business that we love, have faced plenty of our own hardships as well. We are not getting rich doing this. We are often barely eking out a middle-class existence, never knowing if the work will continue or what the next year will hold. We, like most other working families in America, find our livelihoods in the hands of those who neither understand (or care to understand) our situation. I’m a film industry technician; my wife is a social worker. We are not rich Hollywood “fat cats.”

If you eliminate the film tax incentives, I, and hundreds more like me, will suffer an extremely damaging blow to our career and livelihoods. Many will move elsewhere. Some will lose their homes. Most will no longer qualify for our union-sponsored health plans.

Keep the incentives.

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My name is Alec Roy, and I work in the camera, grip, and electric department in the film and television industry. After college, many people I knew set off for “larger” film hubs, but I wished to remain in Massachusetts, knowing that the opportunities and jobs were growing every year. In my two years of freelancing, I have worked on five feature films and several television shows, and grown a network that can sustain a modest living, all in my home state.

The ambition to grow into a seasoned technician in film is a feasible goal in this state; if the film tax incentive is revoked, it will force me to further my career elsewhere. Please allow me to forge ahead as planned and keep the film tax incentive, so we can all live out our true ambitions, in the home that we love.

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My name is Christian Hollyer, and I work with motion picture film and digital cameras as a camera assistant. I grew up in Central Massachusetts, began shooting home movies with my parents’ Super 8 as a kid, took TV production classes at my public high school, and then went college for film production. After college, I moved back home to Massachusetts, and I got my first job working in the film business in 1995 on the movie The Crucible. I’ve worked on dozens of movies and several TV shows since then, from tiny independents to giant blockbusters. This summer will be the anniversary of my 20th year in the business.

I’ve seen many changes in our industry in the last two decades. Before the tax incentive was introduced, I could not earn enough to support my family with just my camera assistant income, so I needed to work at two other non-film jobs just to get by. Since the incentive was passed, I’ve been able to work only in the film business. I make a good, middle-class living, and bought a nice home here in the state for my family. I am raising my children in the town in which I was raised, near their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I’ve never had to travel away to some other state to find work for months at a time, which has been amazing, because I’ve been home after work almost every day. If the incentive goes away, the movie work WILL go away, and I will have to work in other states, pay the other states’ taxes, and be away from my family for months at a time, or lose the career that pays for my livelihood, my health care, and my future retirement.

It is a competitive business that shoots exclusively in places with incentives. At first, all the incentives were abroad, but then US states started creating their own incentives to bring runaway production back to America. Before the Massachusetts incentive program, I worked on several movies set in Massachusetts that only filmed here for a few days to get unique local landmarks, then shot the remaining six to twelve weeks in a city like Toronto, where there was a tax incentive. Since the Massachusetts incentive was passed, productions now come here and stay here to film for months at a time. These films not only pay the salaries of us crew, but pump millions into local businesses through spending on goods and services.

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My name is Toshadeva Palani and I am a camera Production Assistant, amera assistant, and music video director. I initially moved to Boston just four months after my 18th birthday in order to pursue a career in film. Avoiding the more traditional film cities, such as LA or NYC, I found in Boston so much more than I imagined. Just two short years later, I have been able to build the foundation of my career and be apart of the most welcoming community I’ve ever known. This community is a direct response to the FTC–the individuals who work in the industry contribute not just to the local economy, but to the local arts community. In fact, every crew member I’ve hired on my own directorial works I met on a film that benefited from the FTC. There’s no other place I would rather live than New England and the biggest reason for that is the FTC.

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My name is Zack Shultz, and my story is very similar to many others in the Massachusetts film community. Because of the tax incentives, I’ve been able to make a good living since 2008. I’ve bought a home in Roslindale and hope to start a family here in Massachusetts. Without the film incentives, this simply won’t happen. I went to college in Boston and thought I would have to move to California to make a living in movies. Instead, I’ve been able to not only make a living in Massachusetts, but also move up in my career, hone my craft, and work on some incredible projects. I love Boston; it’s my home. If the film tax incentives go away, I will have to leave my home.

 

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I’m an LA-born, NH-raised camera operator and jib operator, and I have worked on almost 100 productions in Massachusetts alone. This tax incentive is what keeps my company and me working. Whether it’s renting out gear on features or crewing on national broadcasts, this incentive is what puts food on the table and all of us working.

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I’m Richelle Topping, and I’m a camera assistant. I’m a born and raised New Englander, and I love it here. Because of the Massachusetts film tax incentives, there has been enough work to allow me to follow my passion and build a career.

The film tax incentives attract a whole lot more than just big-budget Hollywood films. As a crew member starting out, I am able to pay my bills because of these smaller, independent films. The loss of the tax incentives will have a sweeping negative impact.

I remember being told by a professor in college that if I wanted to be successful in this business, I needed to be prepared to move. I’m so thankful that it hasn’t been necessary. I’ve been lucky enough to stay close to my friends and family while living my dream, and I’m really hoping that things will continue this way.

If the tax credit goes away, so will the work, and, unfortunately so will I.

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My name is Tom Bellotti, and I’ve been working in the television and film industry in Massachusetts since 2007. I saw the benefits of the film tax incentives firsthand during my time as a unit manager at WGBH, where I oversaw the production budgets of numerous national shows that shot here in Massachusetts.

In 2014, at the encouragement of many friends who were making a good living in this thriving industry, I began to work as a camera assistant on the feature films and commercials being made here in Massachusetts.

My wife and I have recently purchased a home and are restoring it to its original detail. We have settled our roots permanently in Massachusetts. The film tax incentives provide such a benefit to this state and to so many of our film professionals. I hope we can continue to thrive here in Massachusetts.

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My name is Dean Egan. I live in Medford with my wife and I work as a camera assistant. In 2004, I came from the west to attend Emerson College and, once I graduated, I stayed to work the movies that were continually growing in scale and quantity. It was a childhood dream to work in the film industry, as well as to live near family that had moved out here. The film tax incentives have allowed those dreams to come true, and to remove the incentive would take them away. Keep the incentive!

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My name is Katherine Castro. I never pursued filmmaking, thinking — as many others do — that it was a glittery dream that happens in far-away Hollywoodland. Instead, the film industry found me right here in my backyard.

Going to set gave me a life and a purpose and an outlet to be part of something bigger then myself; to be part of an extended family that makes it a pleasure to go to work everyday. We have a group of professionals that is excellent at their chosen crafts and that comes together to create something that lives on after the job is done — something that they, their families, and their communities can be proud of.

My story is no exception to the positive effects of the film industry in Massachusetts. I am able to stay close to my family — including my 84-year old father, whom I am very happy to be close to at this time in his life — while still building a sustainable and enjoyable life for myself.

Camera AssistantMy name is John McCarthy, and I am a resident of Norwood, MA. I have been a Local 600 camera assistant for less than a year and I am still meeting and networking with everyone around town. The only time I have not been away from home for a job was when I had the opportunity to work on two films in Boston, Spotlight and Ted 2.

Despite the long hours on theses two local feature films, I was happy to be working on projects close to home. I was able to see my wife for a few minutes, play with the dog, and sleep in my own bed. The rest of my year has been spent on the road. I have been driving down to New York City every week for work since last July. Heck, my first union job was on a feature in North Carolina.

I do this to make sure l have enough money to cover my monthly bills and to accumulate hours toward my healthcare and pension plans. I do this in hopes that one day I can quickly pay off my college debt and put some money toward something “real,” like a house and a child.

We should be doing more to keep film jobs in Massachusetts. Films employ locals and utilize local businesses. I expect no flack from unemployment if the jobs dry up.

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My name is Mark Killian and I am a camera assistant and a Massachusetts native.

“The governor,” said spokesman Tim Buckley, “supports a consistent tax policy that supports low-income workers over Hollywood movie studios.” (Boston.com)

Well, Governor, I am, at times, one of those low-income workers. If you eliminate the tax credits that attract productions to this state, I will become a no-income worker. Myself and thousands of others who depend on these productions to pay rent, buy food and raise families will have to leave your state without the incentives and you will lose a very vibrant, community-conscious, highly skilled and sought after community of technicians and artists.

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