Saturday, January 26, 2008

Film Tax Breaks in Massachusets

From the Salem News (MA)

Tax breaks lure filmmakers to state

Paul Leighton
PEABODY | For the combination of star power and North Shore scenery, it would be difficult to match the sight of Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway riding in a dune buggy on Crane Beach in Ipswich.

But if the resurgence of movie-making in Massachusetts continues, film fans might be seeing more North Shore-based scenes like the one in 1968's "The Thomas Crown Affair."

Thanks to a state tax break law enacted in 2006, more Hollywood producers are deciding to film their movies in Massachusetts, the head of the Massachusetts Film Office said yesterday at a tourism conference at the Peabody Marriott.

Nick Paleologos, the executive director of the state film office, said 10 major movies have been shot in Massachusetts since the tax incentive, as opposed to only five movies in the seven years before.

"We have what I think it is the best film tax incentive package in the country," said Paleologos, speaking at the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau's second annual tourism conference. "There's been a dramatic difference."

After the speech, Paleologos said the Walt Disney Co. is planning to shoot a movie called "The Proposal," starring Sandra Bullock, on the North Shore. Disney has set up a production office at the Cummings Center in Beverly.

Massachusetts now gives filmmakers a 22<1/2>-cent tax credit for every dollar they spend, Paleologos said. He said the tax break pays off because of all the money the movie industry spends in the state | $180 million in the last two years | plus the creation of jobs, such as makeup artists and drivers.

Paleologos said New Mexico and Louisiana were the first states to lure the movie industry away from California by creating tax incentives about eight years ago.

"Other states began to realize that Hollywood can make most movies that can be shot on location anywhere," he said.

Paleologos said the upcoming "Pink Panther 2" was shot in Boston even though the movie is set in France. The filmmakers reproduced Paris inside a dilapidated warehouse near the Mystic River Bridge in Boston, he said.

Paleologos said there are several proposals to build a large movie studio and sound stage in Massachusetts, which would enable filmmakers to shoot inside during bad weather and could also attract television series.

Paleologos said he expects an "inevitable" backlash to the film tax incentive program. "People are going to say, 'Why should we be giving tax breaks to these fat Hollywood producers?'"

But he said the tax breaks have been proven to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

"Whenever somebody decides to make a movie, it's a $100 million decision," he said. "Why wouldn't we want them here?"

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