And so, another year has passed in Hollywood East, and with it, a ton of projects, developments, and other news items that captured our interest throughout 2011. Let’s take a look back at what made headlines in Hollywood East over the past year.
A bevy of big budget productions pranced their way through the Bay State, bringing with it a steady stream of big name stars. I Don’t Know How She Does It brought Sarah Jessica Parker, Christina Hendricks, and “Cheers” alum, Kelsey Grammar. Ted brought Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Seth MacFarlane. Here Comes the Boom brought Kevin James, Salma Hayek, and Henry Winkler. I Hate You Dad brought Adam Sandler, Adam Samberg, and Leighton Meester. And finally, R.I.P.D. brought Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, and Kurt Russell.
We were excited to see all the films that debuted this year that filmed in Boston in whole or in part in the past year or two. Films like The Zookeeper, Moneyball, I Don’t Know How She Does It, and What’s Your Number showed movie-goers across the country why the Bay State makes such a beautiful backdrop for major motion pictures.
There were also updates on the state of the MA film tax credits, with some changes taking place. The Office of Travel and Tourism took over the responsibilities previously looked after by the Massachusetts Film Office, with Lisa Strout taking over for Nick Paleologos.
In more disappointing news, it seems the Plymouth Rock Studios project has been put on permanent hold.
Culled from our own backyard, we spoke to local stars of film, TV, and music. Brighton-based band Gentlemen Hall made us lend an ear and a cheer as we watched these talented youngsters make their live national television debut on the Billboard Music Awards.
We were lucky enough to get invited to a sneak peak of the Footloose remake, and got to talk to home-grown star, Kenny Wormald on how he brought a little bit of Boston to the new version of this 80s cult classic.
Reality TV continues to make headlines year after year. In 2011, we watched with excitement the adventures the infamous “Deathwish Movers” went through each week, and cheered on local stars on “Top Chef: Desserts”, “Chopped”, and the “Expedition Impossible” who did New England proud. The genre even inspired the hilarious web-series, “Real Housewives of South Boston”, which we sincerely hope to see more of in 2012!
The culinary world even captured our attention, with it’s Hollywood East Connections. Our favorite homeboy, Mark Wahlberg, surprised us all by venturing into the culinary world, opening the aptly named Wahlburgers in Hingham. “Hell’s Kitchen” star, Jason Santos, opened Blue Inc., and “Top Chef; All Stars” contestant, Tiffany Faison, opened the ever so cutely named BBQ spot, Sweet Cheeks.
These are just a few of the fabulous and fascinating stories that kept us connected in Hollywood East this year. Here’s hoping 2012 brings with it more excitement in TV, movies, and music across the New England states!
As Broadway shuts down and Irene steals the show, Hollywood East rolls in a new storm called R.I.P.D. (Rest in Peace Department), starring Ryan Reynolds, it is slated to pound Boston this September. Recently leaked by Colleen Quinn from the State House News Service and floated over from Chuck Slavin’s, New England Talent and Crew, the film promising to be one of the largest productions drawn to Massachusetts since the tax credit came ashore.
The newest twister to the Category 5 storm is Victoria Secret’s model Marisa Miller, who will be making her feature debut, opposite Ryan Reynolds in Universal’s adaption of the Dark Horse comic RIPD.
Robert Schwentke is directing the supernatural flick that follows Reynolds, a murdered cop who is “hired” to work in the Rest in Peace Department, a police force made up of the dead. The recently dead Reynolds and partner, Jeff Bridges, who’s been dead for a hundred plus years, wrestle unsettling spirits. And here’s a tip: Bridges comes back to life as the beautiful ‘angel’ played by Marisa Miller. Now that’s some lighting.
Alert: RIPD CASTING newsfeeds have been pouring out from South Shore Casting.
Massachusetts Film Office officials predict hundreds of jobs to actors, production and construction providing some thunder to the local economy through extended hotel stays and restaurant spending. Go Hollywood Massachusetts!
The future cast is mixed with sunshine Mary Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak and blue skies Kevin Bacon.
Hurricane RIPD is scheduled to hit the big screen in June, 2013. So be part of the storm party and sign up with Boston Casting and South Shore Casting because they know the evacuation route!
The Bay State is scorching with stars as Summer twenty-eleven unfolds. So let’s indulge in these hay days of film and remind ourselves about the state of the Massachusetts Film and Tax Credit.
There’s proof that Mass is boiling with Boom. Our inbox’s have been filled and the streets sparkle with celebs. Thanks to Hollywood Filmmakers like Mark Wahlberg and Adam Sandler who continue to send good vibrations to New England.
We know first hand how ultra-cool our state is with the newly awesome Stanley Cup, an endless talent pool and Whitey captured. And hey, with the next chapter in the Whitey Bulger saga underway, perhaps we’ll see a sequel to The Departed. No matter how much film is rolling, producers return for the incentives. Everyone wants to save some green, so let’s go green together and continue to recycle our livelihood.
Twenty-ten was the slowest year for production since the credit’s debut back in 2006. The governor leaked a rumored cap and it sent out a message that the state of the MA film and tax credit was trembling, sending messages to filmmakers to stay away from the unstable Bay State.
The shake of Summer twenty-ten had its aftershocks with the release of the MFO executive director, Nick Paleologos. But it’s a new year, new agency and certainly a new STATE of mind.
The MFO has been revamped under a new bill passed last summer. This face lift resulted in the Mass Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) and a new captain at the helm, Lisa Strout was recently announced.
Just last month, the new agency met at the Dedham Community Theater, one of the committee’s first stops on a public listening tour to gain a better understanding of the film industry and the growing effects of productions.
The stage was set for the MOTT committee to hear testimony from individuals in the biz including the Office of Travel and Tourism Executive Director Betsy Wall, President and Co-founder of Powderhouse Productions, Tug Yourgrau, Certified Public Accountant Irence Wachsler, and IATSE Local 481 Business Manager, Chris O’Donnell. We were there listening as well and heard the message load and clear that studios are needed.
“As a result of the tax credit, our firm has grown much quicker than I anticipated. We were a 2-person, mother daughter full-service CPA practice. We have outgrown our home offices and just opened an office in Norwood,” Wachsle said. “In addition, we hired two people to help us with the credit. In order to take the industry to the next level, I support the efforts to establish studios. More commercial work will give local Massachusetts residents more opportunity to work and fine tune their skills. This, in turn, will provide them with the necessary experience thereby helping them to grow into the `top’ roles,” she added.
Powderhouse Productions Yourgrau and Waller of Brickyard VFX were also fashionably representing the film communities stomping grounds. Both stood tall and remarkably linked the benefits their companies have experienced as a result of the credit and the desirability of Massachusetts.
The morning certainly painted the Commonwealth’s commitment to the industry. Studios, sound stages and episodic television are the sketches lingering to keep the film crews rolling and Hollywood East connected to a sunny future.
With the recent reveal of Lisa Stout, the STATE of the MA film and tax credit seems secure. The Lexington native has come full circle starting her career right here in Boston over 30 years ago. Since 2001, Stout has been making it happen at the New Mexico Film Office managing a total of 156 major film and television productions throughout her tenure.
Our credit is protected and is looking golden in twenty-eleven. We have the force on our side and the film crews to prove it. We must continue to work together as a community to boost the film industry, and move to the next level by supporting world-class studios in Massachusetts.
We don’t need all the bells and whistles that the infamous Plymouth Rock Studios tried to build. We need a movie studio that will provide the walls of endless possibilities and bedazzle the future productions here in the Bay State.
The State of the bill is cruising and we are on deck. Don’t forget to wear SPF and put on your shades this summer. And stay connected with Hollywood East Connection on FB!
We know first hand how HOT Massachusetts is with bright lights in the Public Garden, cameras shooting in Fenway and more action at the hot spot, Lucky’s Lounge. Hip spots like these lure Hollywood filmmakers like Kevin James, Mark Wahlberg and Adam Sandler back to the Bay State, but the benefits keep us here.
Six years ago, the film tax credit benefits kicked into action here in the Bay State and it was up to the Massachusetts Film Office (MFO) to make Mass as the film destination of choice. A year later, Nick Paleologos jumped on stage and became the executive director of the MFO. Under his tenure, the MFO attracted more than a billion dollars of new direct spending into the Commonwealth. But a year ago, when the governor proposed to cap our livelihood, Paleologos solicited against the Governor. After the cap was withdrawn his position was reduced and the curtain closed for Paleologos.
Since then, the MFO has been reorganized under a new bill that was passed last August. Under this bill, the Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) has been in charge of making it happen here in the Commonwealth.
“Lisa is a stand-out in the industry and is the right person to lead the Massachusetts Film Office into the future,” said Betsy Wall, Executive Director of MOTT. “She will bring nearly three decades of experience to her new role, and promises to build on our efforts to make Massachusetts the premier destination for film and television projects.”
The Lexington native started her career here in Boston over 30 years ago and truly has come full circle. Stout might be new to this set but she has been hot to trot for the New Mexico Film Office since 2001, managed a total of 156 major film and television productions throughout her tenure.
“I am truly honored by this opportunity to work for the Patrick-Murray Administration and my home state of Massachusetts,” said Strout. “The Commonwealth’s leaders are committed to supporting an industry that creates high-wage jobs and supports local businesses, attracts private investment and grows our creative economy. Together, we will make the Massachusetts film industry tops in the nation.”
Strout starts her new role on June 15. Click here for more information on the MFO.
The local film community, as well as local businesses can sigh in relief after yesterday’s decision by the Massachusetts House to reject the amendment that proposed to limit to the film tax credits, and thereby paving the way for continued feature filmmaking in the Bay state. Per the Boston Herald’s announcement yesterday, state lawmakers rejected an amendment that would have limited the film tax credit, instead agreeing (including House Speaker Robert DeLeo) that filmmaking truly does help create jobs for locals.
Although out-of-state film producers bring their own crew for specific tasks, they also rely heavily on local businesses from caterers to equipment rentals, skin care services and of course, background extras. Film community members protested 3 weeks ago during hearing 3854 on March 3rd at the state house and later the bill was rejected on March 11th after much debate. Yesterday, after rejecting additional amendments, the Bill was finally laid to rest. We New Englanders may not get star-struck by celebrity actors in our neighborhoods, but if it involves job creation, we can live with it.
Stay tuned for our interview with the Massachusetts Film Office Executive Director, Nick Paleologos for what’s in store for 2010!
At a time when most states are scrambling to find ways to plug holes in hemorrhaging budgets, it’s no surprise that Governor Deval Patrick is asking the Massachusetts legislature to scale back the film tax incentive program. By placing a $50 million cap on the program, including a retroactive measure that would apply to movies that have already filmed here, the legislature could be seriously jeopardizing what is arguably the most successful program responsible for bringing jobs and increasing spending in the Bay State.
As the program hangs in the balance, more and more businesses that would be immediately effected by the cap are expressing their concern. C.P. Casting, a locally based film and television casting agency, has sent out press releases regarding their disapproval, and the Massachusetts Production Coalition has likewise sent out calls to action, urging members and other supporters to call, email, or fax their state legislators in order to let them know that this method of closing the budget gap is not supported by their constituency. The proposal is currently awaiting a vote in the state House and Senate, and if approved, would potentially decrease production in the state by as much as 50%. The proposal also comes with other changes, including a merger of six state agencies, like the Office of Travel and Tourism and the Massachusetts Film Office, into a single office that would be called the the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership.
It is currently estimated that the film tax credit has brought more than $1 billion in new economic growth to Massachusetts in the form of jobs and spending. In fact, a recent report from educators at the University of Massachusetts highlights the positive impact on the local economy by the film sector. Many of the jobs have benefitted hard hit industries, like construction, as film crews have tapped local talent for their production needs. Already, talk of the potential cap has limited the number of movies planning their summer shooting schedules, and a proposed Boston-based TV series teeters precariously on the edge of falling through. Likewise, Tim Pappas, a South Boston developer, is proposing a $25 film studio complex in the area, but could be quickly nixed if the tax cap passes approval at the capital.
As legislators vote on a number of proposals set forth by Governor Patrick in an attempt to close the budget gap, its clear there will be some tough decisions that need to be made. How tough, and what industries will exactly be affected, remains to be seen.
2009 was a busy year for the Massachusetts Film Office. The plethora of movies that shot within the Bay State’s borders brought everyone from Academy Award winners (Ben Affleck and Kevin Costner from The Company Men), famous funny men and women (Adam Sandler, David Spade, and Maya Rudolph of Grown Ups, Kevin James of The Zookeeper), a former boy-band-er (Justin Timberlake of The Social Network), and celebrity Scientologists (Tom Cruise of Knight and Day, along with wife Katie Holmes). Thanks to the 2005 film tax credit signed into law by then Governor Mitt Romney, and newly revived under Governor Deval Patrick starting in 2007, Hollywood is finding new incentives in bringing their projects to the Northeast. Under this law:
“…studios, producers and filmmakers–who either shoot at least half of their movie or spend at least half of their production budget in the Commonwealth–are eligible for a tax credit equal to 25 cents for every new dollar of spending they bring to Massachusetts. No caps. No limits. No pre-authorization. No pre-certification.”
The MFO was first established in 1979, as one of the first official state film offices in the country. Since then, they have worked with filmmakers by providing resources in order for them to bring their projects to the Commonwealth, such as assisting with location scouting, housing, and crew referrals. Led by executive director Nick Paleologos and director operations Mary Chiochios, the MFO website features links for potential filmmakers to find information on town permitting, production guides, and information on the tax credits, as well as links to articles from both local and national publications covering Massachusetts-related entertainment news in television and film. Currently, their home page is spotlighting the latest edition of their digital magazine, covering in-depth articles on the effects of the tax incentives. Check out their website for that and more on the importance of this ever-growing state office.
The former South Weymouth Naval Air Station development project continues to remain in limbo after months of delays ranging from poor property management, lack of Naval cooperation, and failed negotiations with developers. The Patriot Ledger reports (via the Massachusetts Film Office) that the 324 acres of developable land currently owned by LNR Property Corporation, though earmarked for a film production studio, currently remains stagnant and vacant as part of the ongoing troubles with the former naval base now known as the Tri-Town Southfield project.
Jack Encarnacao of the Patriot Ledger writes:
In 2002, Tri-Town hired LNR Property Corp. to be master developer of the Weymouth air base. Ever since, the company has helped fund a majority of Tri-Town’s operating budget, which previously was almost entirely supported by government grants.
However, deep frustrations continued as more and more problems occur on one front or another in this nearly ten year old project that has yielded next to no results thus far.
From the Ledger:
State Rep. Ronald Mariano said the current stalemate is regrettable, but he’s optimistic. “Tri-Town is doing as well now as it’s ever done,” the Quincy Democrat said. “Have we had missteps and setbacks? Absolutely. But by the same token, LNR has had setbacks and missteps. It was trial-and-error for a while there. But I think we’re on the right track.”
“The fact of the matter is for 10 years there has been no drain on any of the three towns for this property,” he said. “I think just token payments that would have to be dealt with yearly would have kept this development on the front burner for the three towns.”
For more on the ongoing saga in South Weymouth, check out the 3 part series from the Patriot Ledger on the Massachusetts Film Office website.
In a new report by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR), the tax credit program implemented for movies being produced in the state has generated $676 million since 2006, $100 million over the predicted amount in a March 2008 DOR estimate. The report also stated that it had granted $167 million in tax credits from 2006-2008 (the initial three years of the program) which, compared to the state’s projected economic output, would translate to 16 cents per every dollar earned once all redeemable credits are used.
According to the Massachusetts Film Office, the DOR report stated that the $676 million received from movie producers came at no cost to Massachusetts taxpayers. In fact, due to the policy that the filmmakers must spend money (and pay taxes on the spending) in Massachusetts before redeeming their credits, the state collected $3.6 million dollars more in taxes than it dispersed in credits. In addition, 60% of all the new direct and indirect jobs created by the movie productions went to Massachusetts residents since the beginning of the project, a number that the DOR predicts to increase as the industry matures. Since the beginning of the program of 2006, direct employment of Massachusetts residents in film production increased by 537%.
Many experts speculate that, though the current numbers of the study have been positive, the tax credits dispersed versus the total amount earned may be as low as five cents per dollar. The DOR report, in comparison with other similar reports released by Ernst & Young and Economic Research Associates, omitted the local effects of taxes, fees, and production, such as the impact of the development, construction and operation of new sound stages as well as the film related tourism and the marketing and promotion of Massachusetts generated from the film.
The attempt to bring movie production to Massachusetts has been generally successful. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) stated in its April economic impact report that Massachusetts ranks among the top ten states in film production behind California and New York, the only New England state to do so. Some of the Massachusetts cities that have been featured in films are Boston, Salem, Lowell, Lynn, Burlington, Hull, North Andover, Plymouth, Gloucester, Worcester, Taunton, Medfield, Milton, and Essex. Since 2006, over two-dozen films have been shot in Massachusetts, not to mention the half a dozen films scheduled to shoot in early 2009. This includes Kevin Costner and Ben Affleck’s new film, The Company Men and two new films by Adam Sandler.
To any American, Plymouth Rock inspires visions of pilgrims from England, benevolent Native Americans, and the influential meal that we all celebrate annually. Soon, in 2010 to be precise, it will also conjure images of sound stages, movie stars and a state of the art production studio.
Since its purchase of the Plymouth Waverly Oaks Golf Club in July 2008 to the town planning board’s unanimous approval just last month, Plymouth Rock Studios has been making steady strides to its predicted opening next year. Upon completion, the 240-acre site will feature 14 sound stages, a 10-acre back lot, production offices, post-production facilities, a theatre, professional offices and an “amenity village.” It will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified studio in the world as well as the first independent, full-service production facility on the East Coast. Plymouth Rock Studios is located less than an hour’s drive away from two international airports and about ten minutes from the Plymouth municipal airport, which is capable of supporting corporate jets.
According to the Plymouth Rock Studios website, the site will be designed in the “studio as a city” concept, meaning that it will combine the business aspect of the industry with the at-home life of the amenity village, allowing the studio to act as a sort of self-sufficient “campus” for employees. The amenity village would provide domestic services such as dry cleaning and laundry services, a post office, convenience store as well as restaurants and other amenities.
With its home-meets-business concept and city-like proportions, the studio would need around 2000 employees to staff the site as well as provide 1500 construction jobs for the actual production of the edifices, making Plymouth Rock appealing to both Plymouth residents and film personnel, especially in the (still) declining economy. According to USA Today, both Executive Director of the Massachusetts Film Office Nicholas Paleologos and Director of Visitor Services at Pilgrim Hall Museum Ann Young support the construction of the Plymouth Rock Studios, stating that it will help Plymouth’s economy by increasing tourism yet not detract from the historical roots and ambiance of the city itself. Despite the hope it provides for the financial future, it has met some opposition. Anne Marie Flanagan and Laurien Enos, two of the three dissenters in the 116-member town meeting vote, argue that project developers have not answered significant questions of financial funding and how the town will support the drastic changes in the infrastructure.
Though the monetary details of the project are still unspecified, many big name companies have pledged their allegiance to the growing production studios. According to USA Today, Joseph DiLorenzo, chief financial officer for the Plymouth Rock Studios and former CFO of the Boston Celtics, HBO, Warner, Paramount and Fox have conveyed interest in using the production company once it has been constructed. When questioned about funding the project, DiLorenzo stated that while the project has no definite sponsors, the film industry has survived previous recessions. Despite its lack of immediate sponsorship, Plymouth Rock offers producers innovative services in everything related to production and, with amenity village, beyond. Though its planning and construction have met some opposition, one thing is for certain: Plymouth Rock Studios is creating new grounds for Massachusetts as well as for the entire film industry. By the end of 2010 (or possibly 2011), Plymouth Rock will be famous for two very different things.
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