My name is Jonathan Kobs. I am a video assist operator in the film and television industry in Massachusetts. My great-grandfather was one of the founding members of the Local 4 — the Elevator Operators Union — and planted his roots in Massachusetts in the early 1900s. My grandfather was the stationmaster on Bennett Street in Harvard Square throughout his entire professional career. They established roots in Belmont in the middle of the 20th century. My mother’s father was an accountant for Stone & Webster, one of the largest accounting firms in Boston at the time, and started his family in Waltham in the 1940s. My mother is one of six children who were born in Waltham, and my father is one of three children born in Belmont, most of whom all still live in Massachusetts.
This is my family — they are Massachusetts. Hardworking families that have lived and worked in the state since the start of the 20th century. I graduated from Boston University in 2006, with a master’s of science in film and television production. I lived in Cambridge, Arlington, and Somerville during the early years of my career, and I worked hard at learning the ins and outs of production at places like Fenway Park and WGBH, in an attempt to grow within this profession. Because the industry has been thriving here for the last decade, and because the tax incentive made it a viable option for production companies to come to town to make movies, I was able to grow my career here.
I stayed here because of my family and the consistent opportunity to move forward within my career. I met the love of my life in Davis Square. Fast forward five years, and I am now a successful video assist operator with a beautiful wife, two wonderful children and a three-bedroom cape in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. This is home.
Without the tax incentive, I’ll be forced to uproot my family from where it’s been for over a century and move to a state that understands how important an incentive like this is to the economy in their state — an incentive that calls to production companies and allows the arts to thrive. Without this incentive, there will be no jobs. And hundreds, if not thousands, of mothers and fathers will have to either terminate their careers … or move to other states to sustain them.
The incentive has to be a part of Massachusetts, not as bi-yearly debate, but as something that is concrete and part of the state’s basic functionality. The incentive is for families — not only my family, but thousand of families; families that live, work and breath Massachusetts. These families are Massachusetts. I am Massachusetts. Don’t take this away from us.