Category Archives: Production Designer

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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 Jennifer Gerbino. I am a prop master, production designer, and  New Bedford, MA, resident. I have worked as a union film worker since 2002 and, of those 13 years, all but a handful were spent on Massachusetts-based productions. I am very fortunate to have found an industry that lets me support my hometown’s economy, my friends’ businesses, and the state where I choose to live.

As a prop master, I command a yearly spending budget of anywhere between $500,000 to a million dollars. I am confident in saying that I spend 75% of that money in the state of Massachusetts. I also know that without the film tax incentive, I would not be a prop master, production designer, or New Bedford, MA, resident. I own the house I was obsessed with as a child. I own a car I bought in the next town over. I am lucky enough to spend my earnings on house repairs, dinners out, local artists, and businesses.

Any cap or elimination of film tax incentive will ruin the community I have been so proud to be part of these past 13 years. The jobs I hope for will never come, and I and the people I work with will suffer. The tax incentive means jobs, it means the support of local business, and it means a future for me.

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My name is Eric. In the last 25 years, I have watched the film industry grow and be able to compete internationally because of the incentive program in this state. At least 75%of my work in the industry has taken place in Massachusetts, which allowed me and many others to make a good living. It should be noted that film is no longer a “cottage industry” in Massachusetts, but a vibrant economic force employing thousands of people.

Families have moved to Massachusetts from many parts of the country to lead productive lives and earn a good income for themselves and their families. Tax incentives for film provide many jobs and revenue for the state and should remain in place as this important industry continues to grow.

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My name is Kurt Thomas Bergeron, andI have been a Massachusetts resident for the past 35 years. I’ve lived here, I’ve worked here, and I’ve been a student in its schools. As an actor at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, MA, I auditioned for my very first film … and ended up becoming the production designer.  That in itself was an extremely unique opportunity for which I have always been thankful. Since that time, director Rob Fitz and I have collaborated on many projects together.

My own workload has steadily increased. With that increase, I am earning more money, which I am also spending out in the community to acquire more props and set dressing. But now my way of life is threatened, and the only way to allow me to grow is to keep the Massachusetts tax incentive firmly in place. The incentive not only encourages Hollywood films to work in our towns and spend money in our state, but locals like me are forming rental and production companies that employ other Massachusetts residents. These are the jobs that we need and the jobs that we are all fighting for. Take the incentive away and all of that goes away with it. Our unemployment rate will skyrocket, creating a drain that could have been avoided by allowing an industry that brings work, money, and tourism to the state to continue.

I work my butt off, sometimes around the clock. No one works harder or for more hours than those of us who work on the productions we love.

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My name is Sophie Carlhian, and 2015 marks my 25th year in the art department of the film and TV industry in Massachusetts. Born, raised, and educated in Massachusetts, I live 15 miles from my childhood home (where my elderly mom still lives). Before working in the industry, I had neither health insurance nor a retirement plan. Since my first job in 1990, I have worked locally as a scenic artist, set dresser, buyer, art director, set decorator, and production designer. My husband Paul (also in the industry) and I own a home and have two children in the public schools. I have made family a priority over career in the last ten years. Steady film work locally has enabled me to be a parent, as well as a caregiver to my elderly parents.

When counting the jobs created by this industry, I wonder if we also count the nannies, house cleaners, landscapers, and home health aids we hire to support our family when we are both working? What about the tuition and fees we pay to the music school, ballet school, and local summer camps our children attend? In my current position as a set decorating buyer, I am in direct contact with a huge variety of grateful small business owners. For this one single movie project, our one single department will easily spend half a million dollars on purchases and rentals from local businesses, including prop shops, frame shops, rug dealers, antique shops, model train clubs, event rental companies, lamp shops, locksmiths, used auto parts dealers, auctioneers, private individuals (craigslist!), consignment stores, appliance stores, thrift stores, and many more.

We have watched as friends have moved to California and then spent all their time working away from home, in states like ours that offer a film tax breaks. I would like raise my family here in Massachusetts.

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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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