Category Archives: Director

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My name is Macaela VanderMost, I am a Director at Newfangled Studios. In the past few years this industry has boomed in Massachusetts, allowing me to provide over hundreds of thousands worth of freelance jobs per year, and 9 full time positions to my staff.

Film=jobs!

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I’m a local first-time director, working on Olancho, a documentary about a group of musicians who perform for drug cartels in Honduras, which is the most murderous country in the world. Having finished shooting, my co-producer and I are now moving into post-production here in Boston, where I was born and raised.

Though Boston has a vibrant, budding film community, we constantly feel the pull of New York City, where a vast community and infrastructure for film provides endless resources. With this balance so off-kilter, the Massachusetts film tax incentive is a big reason for our choosing to stay here in Boston. Without it, we’d be more inclined to move down to Brooklyn to finish post-production.

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My name is Vladimir Minuty. I grew up in Masschusetts and went to school here for filmmaking. I’ve worked in the film business for 16 years as a production assistant, story board artist, assistant director, and now director.

After 9/1,1 my wife and I watched the industry in Massachusetts shrink significantly. Ultimately, we left Massachusetts to seek greater opportunities in Los Angeles. But in 2006, Massachusetts passed the tax incentive program, which spurred a large increase in film production in the state, so much so that people were getting called in to Massachusetts to help. My wife was one of those people. She got a movie here, and I happened to get work here on a video production slated to shoot around the same time. We decided to take the work, thinking we would head back to LA once it was done. But that never happened. One movie led to another, and we ended up moving back home to Massachusetts because there was enough work to sustain us. While LA had great opportunities, we were happy to be able to come home to be close to our families.

The tax incentive is a great benefit to Massachusetts. It’s helped grow, and continues to grow, the film industry here. It brings millions of dollars to the economy. It  benefits not only the people who work directly in the industry, but many ancillary businesses who get a bump from the infusion of film work and money into the local economy. Whether it’s restaurants, hotels, cabs, security companies, stores supplying wardrobe and props, vehicles, etc., many Massachusetts businesses benefit from the broad endeavor of re-creating the world on screen. I recall talking to a friend working construction on a movie who told me they spent thousands of dollars in lumber alone to construct a set. That’s lumber for one set on one movie supplied by a Massachusetts business.

The tax incentive is the reason so many films are shot here now; without it, production would collapse in Massachusetts, ceding those films to states that offer competing tax incentives. This happened in 2009 when Governor Patrick merely considered eliminating the incentive, and many of the working families and businesses here were hurt by it.

Should the current administration eliminate the incentive, working families will be hurt again, but to a greater degree. Over the years, the incentive has grown the number of crew people and the number of supporting businesses that work for or with the industry. Most would be forced to shut down or leave Massachusetts to find work in NY or LA, which would be a loss of tax revenue and skilled workers for Massachusetts. This would be an unnecessary blow to the economy.

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My name is Carlyne Fournier, and I am a producer, director, actor, and voice over artist. I live and breath this industry. There is not one day of the year that I am not working on one project or another in this VERY state. I take pride in projects that promote awareness and change on social issues, using the power of the media. But I also work on fictional creative work with a large number of directors and producers. I often find myself working on two or three productions at a time — and very thankful to be.

Aside from affecting me, taking away the film tax incentive program would hurt countless businesses, services, professionals, and families that I have come to work closely with in the last seven years, all of whom offer an important piece of the puzzle needed for each production (major or small). I don’t see why it is so hard for policy makers to understand that, for the cost of having a tax incentive program in the state, we actually pour a tremendous amount of money into our very own economy and create jobs all year long.

When a production company decides to shoot in Massachusetts, they hire, buy, or rent people, equipment, space, trailers, etc. for the production. Adding to that is a very long list of services that are needed for the productions and actors as well (such as casting agencies, food catering, hotel, transport, police details, MUA, and SFX, to name a few), which again pour MORE money into our economy. Furthermore, when such productions packs their bags and leave, WE still all pay income taxes right here. Isn’t this a win/win situation? We need to stop looking at the immediate cost of having such programs and look at the long-term benefits of it all.

Taking away the film tax incentive this early in the game would jeopardize the whole industry that we take such pride in promoting and representing. Didn’t we just build a $42 million studio in Devens? Can we give it a chance to thrive? Eliminating the tax incentive does not hurt Hollywood productions (they just will go someplace else) — it hurts Massachusetts families!

We all have to make it a priority to speak up and save the film tax incentive program before it’s too late.

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I’m Dawna, and I’m a Massachusetts writer/director. My company is scheduled to shoot a feature this summer in the state. We would pull as many local cast and crew as possible — bringing jobs and revenue into the state. Without the Massachusetts film tax incentive, we will go elsewhere to shoot.

Ending the film tax incentive in the Massachusetts will eliminate all those job opportunities AND hurt a Massachusetts small business.

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My name is John Stimpson. I am a writer, director, and editor of motion pictures. I also own H9 Films. I’ve been involved with fifteen feature films, nine of which I directed, and all of which were shot, at least in part, in Massachusetts. I’ve dedicated my career to generating film projects here in the Commonwealth and using local production facilities and local crews, many of whom have been my friends and colleagues for years. We’ve pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, created hundreds of jobs, and launched countless careers.

The Massachusetts film tax incentive has been a significant piece of the financing pie for all of the movies that we’ve made since it has been in place, and I can definitively attest to the fact that if it goes away, so will the work in Massachusetts. I won’t stop making films, but I will be forced to stop making them here.  I urge our legislators and our leadership on Beacon Hill to please think twice before eliminating this incentive and killing our thriving industry in Massachusetts, the state we all call home.

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My name is DeMane Davis. This is some of the cast and crew of LIFT, an independent feature film shot in Boston. It was lensed before the Massachusetts film tax incentives were implemented. That means our producers urged us to shoot our Boston-based film somewhere cheaper. When I wrote LIFT, it was always, in part, about this city: Newbury Street, downtown, Roxbury. We fought for our hometown for weeks and, after much negotiation and being forced to cut a scene and lose a character a week before filming, we won.

It was my dream to direct a movie in the place I’m from and love. It was an honor to get to hire local crew and talent. From camera operators and sound mixers, to grips, gaffers, script supervisors, art directors, hair & makeup artists, location managers, editors, production assistants, and transportation coordinators, our production employed 154 people from Boston. A small portion of the crew and seven lead actors were from out of state, but all of them contributed to the economy — they stayed in local hotels, they ate in local restaurants, they shopped in and around Boston, they paid Massachusetts income tax on their earnings, and they told fellow actors and family members about our then-budding film industry. Our shooting schedule was just 21 days. Imagine the amount of work, jobs, and money a larger film with a longer schedule and a bigger budget creates. Envision the businesses that benefit. Picture the fledgling film students it inspires. Pitting working families against people who work in the Boston film industry makes no sense to me.  Thirty-seven other states offer film tax incentives. This is not an anomaly — it supports businesses and tourism and keeps students and potential employers from looking and moving elsewhere.

Every person from Massachusetts in this photo has people who depend on them. Everyone is proud to be from here and wants our cities and towns represented on film. Each one of us knew, back then, how lucky we were to get to live in, work in, and support our state. It has always been my plan to write and direct features and TV shows here and to recreate the incredible experience I had on LIFT, with the support of the Massachusetts film tax incentives. Our livelihood affects countless others. Should the incentives be eliminated, we will have to relocate. Everyone will lose.

 

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When Governor Baker announced his plan to kibosh the film tax incentive, I was floored. Yet in the face of despair, everyone here recognized the severity of the threat, and the immediacy of the action required, and reacted. I am blown away and inspired by the response of this collective, but not surprised. It is this sense of community and kindred spirit for filmmaking that drew me to this industry in the first place.

I started in 2010 in the editing booth; from there, my interests quickly spread to colorist, compositing, directing, and producing as well. My wife, Cate Carson, and I started our company, Sensorium Pictures, in 2011 and have been learning via the school of hard knocks since. We are finally reaching the point where we are producing pieces that qualify for the tax credit, and contrary to Gov. Baker’s belief, it is an important deciding factor for us moving forward.

It is very difficult to procure finances for a film. Telling a client that 25% of the budget is a GUARANTEED return is huge when it comes to mitigating investment risk. For us, not having this would most likely be a deal-breaker. There is an ever-expanding infrastructure for film growing right here in our home state, with potential for so much more. And other companies have seen it, too. I remember last year at a BOSCPUG meet, a gentleman from Boston-based Zero VFX said they decided to set up shop here in part because of the growing film economy. Unfortunately, eliminating the tax incentive would be a severe detriment to this end. I am lucky to call Massachusetts my home state. With our rich culture and history, it is an ideal spot for many films, although I think our governor underestimates how important the tax incentives is to our future and to our community HERE, not just Hollywood.

One final note: I understand Gov. Baker wanting to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. I do not take kindly, however, to his comment that he wants to send a signal that he believes in “supporting people who are working real hard to get ahead.” Since I cannot afford to be a full-time filmmaker as of yet, like many of you out there, I work a “pay-the-bills” job in construction. Then I come home, and work on the several projects that are always on our plate at any one time. The point is, we work hard; we all work very hard. The governor’s comment was not only a bit insulting, but tells me that he is unaware of that fact that he will be distressing an entire region of working professionals.

 

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I am Federico Muchnik and I have never worked on a major Hollywood feature made in Massachusetts. Yet I am the beneficiary of the tax incentive, having written, produced, directed, and edited a feature film called This Killing Business here in Boston. The budget of the film was in the high five figures and much of that money was spent on paying cast and crew for their services. For starters, let me say I am enormously proud of this film which premiered at the BIFF (Loews Boston Common) and was then distributed by Filmbox/Arthouse.

The camaraderie, professionalism, talent, focus, and endurance (the film was made incrementally over a one year period) brought to the project by cast and crew has provided me with positive memories to last a lifetime.

Second of all, after wrapping the project, I learned through a pal that my film was eligible for the tax incentive, retroactively, and for a considerable amount. Wow, I thought … where do I sign up? I’ve begun the process — working with an experienced film tax incentive accountant — and I’ve submitted my application. To be frank, if I am approved (and there’s every reason to believe I will be), I’ll be very pleased.  The point is that I am encouraged to continue producing in Massachusetts. I know I’m not David O. Russell, chock full of money and responsible for generating millions of dollars of ancillary business, but in my own small way, my cast, my crew, and I all benefit from the tax credit.

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My name is Tara and I’m a producer/director, but spent much of my career in production management. I moved back to Boston in 1998 after working in Los Angeles for multiple studios and post houses for four years. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the variety of filming happening in the Commonwealth. Over the past 17 years, I have watched this production community grow substantially and blossom into a thriving industry. Many of my colleagues, who normally would have gone to New York or LA, have decided to stay here because there have been enough jobs to support that choice. That wasn’t always the case.

It’s mind-boggling to see how far we’ve come, especially over the past ten years, and it has a ripple effect. When studios and production companies come into Massachusetts to film and a have great experience with a talented crew base, that news spreads. Massachusetts has finally earned it’s reputation as a wonderfully user-friendly and varied landscape for filming.

At my last production staff job, we were able to take on several national public service announcement campaigns because of the tax incentive. Those projects could have been produced in other states. But we could bid and secure the job knowing that, on the back end, there were some savings. In the meantime, we were able to employ 15 to 30 crew members on each job, and provide production support business to caterers, drivers, props houses, restaurants, port-a-potty companies, mobile home and van rentals, police details, art supply stores, grip and electric rentals, camera package rentals, costume shops, dry cleaners, hardware stores and home goods outlets. There is a direct correlation between the film tax incentive and people being able to sustain a living here. Equally important, it provides a source of revenue to countless local businesses.

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Hi everyone. I’m Chris Esper, a director based out of Attleboro, MA. Over the past five years, I, like everyone else, have been working very hard to make my dreams in filmmaking a reality. In addition to my freelance directing and videography work, I have worked on a number of sets in the camera department and done post-production work for local films. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. There’s a lot of talent around here that is still be discovered and that can’t happen without the work.

 

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My name is Cate Carson and I started working in film in 2010 after being honorably discharged from the Navy. I continue to work in law enforcement, and am also juggling running an independent film company, Sensorium Pictures, as well. The goal this year is to transition to film full-time, and I feel I deserve to have this chance as I have served my country for 15 years and now want to follow my passion.

If this tax incentive goes, there’s absolutely no way for me to work here as an actor, never mind as a filmmaker. There is an excellent infrastructure here, now more than ever, and this translates to more productions on both the independent (like my company) and studio levels. We have projects that, once financed, will provide countless local cast and crew with jobs. In addition, we will be utilizing stages, catering businesses, housing accommodations/hotels, printing services, transportation services, and the numerous other types of resources that are required for each production. BUT, if this tax incentive leaves the state, we won’t be able to survive here. With other states offering tax incentives, quite simply, we won’t be able to afford staying in this wonderful community, or bringing films back to the area once we get financing in other places.

The loss of the tax incentive means more and more people will be uprooted from their lives and their families, because there will be no sustainable jobs. This will wipe out an ENTIRE INDUSTRY, which will have a domino effect and cause hardship to other local industries.

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