My name is Ben Dewey, and I have worked as a freelancer in the film industry since 1984. I have served as a line producer, unit production manager (UPM), production supervisor, assistant director, location manager, and scout. I have had the distinct privilege of working with many of the businesses and people on this website and remain deeply impressed by the depth and commitment of our production community. The stories on this website are simply fantastic and deeply moving.
I have seen all sides of the Massachusetts film tax incentive — the many lean years before its implementation, the pullback of work after its threatened cap in 2010, and the resurgence thereafter. From that 2010 episode, we all know that any threat to the tax incentive will send the work elsewhere in a flash. Look what has happened to North Carolina.
In the independent world, every budget I have prepared since the advent of the tax incentive is utterly dependent upon these monies. These films cannot be produced without the benefit of the film tax incentive.
There are multiplier effects for the film tax incentive that may be difficult to quantify but readily apparent. I disagree with the calculations employed by the DOR with regard to job creation and spending as those studies fail to capture the actual hiring and neglect the downstream effects of production spending from any and every type of business that one can imagine. A case in point would be the independent film The Last Harbor, which I line-produced in the fall of 2008 in Rockport and Gloucester. We employed over 125 people in the course of the production, which we will recall as a season of impending financial doom. While filming in December, we were hit by a storm, but had to keep to our schedule. The grips, electrics, and the rest of our crew spent $4,000 at the John Tarr store on Main Street during that day for foul-weather gear, monies that establishment would never have seen if we were not there working.
In my work as a location manager, I have supervised the giving — in terms of location rental fees, labor, business loss, holding and catering areas, parking, etc. — of far beyond $2,000,000 to private, public, and civic institutions. More than $200,000 has been spent with the Trustees of Reservations, $100,000 to colleges and universities, $100,000 to other public and private schools, $250,000 to churches of every denomination, and $75,000 to other civic associations and groups. Those institutions need this income. With regard to our state government, please consult with our ongoing production partner, the DCR, for their input on the donations that we have made during the years in which the film tax incentive has been in effect. Those donations have been extremely helpful for their operating budgets.
The politics of division are ugly in this context. The approach to support the EITC unquestionably has its merits, but not at the expense of an entire industry that employs all these families. Please let’s keep the film tax incentive working for everyone in Massachusetts.