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Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman gets a touch-up while on the set for "The Lonely Maiden" in the Public Garden on November 30, 2007. (Globe Photo / Bill Brett)
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The year of filming profitably

Movie boom of 2007 enriched Commonwealth with dollars, jobs

Email|Print| Text size + By Leslie Brokaw
December 2, 2007

Statistics are starting to pile up that show just how good a year 2007 is turning out to be for the Massachusetts film industry.

In September, Massachusetts Film Office executive director Nick Paleologos told members of the Massachusetts Production Coalition (online at massprodcoali tion.com) that the tax credit that went into effect in January 2006 really is working. There is now a 25 percent credit on all spending that film productions do in the state, and all state taxes on production spending are eliminated.

Before the credit, made-in-Massachusetts movies actually spent very little time (or money) shooting here. "The Perfect Storm" spent 98 percent of its $140 million budget out of state, and just 2 percent ($3 million) in or around Gloucester, where the on-land portion of the story is based.

That's the same, too, for "Mystic River" and "The Departed" - Massachusetts's share of the $30 million "Mystic River" budget was 13 percent, or $4 million, and its share of the $90 million "Departed" budget was just 7 percent, or $6 million.

Compare that to the spending by more recent productions. "Gone Baby Gone," "The Game Plan," and "21" all spent 50 percent or more of their budgets in the state, according to the film office.

When the dollars from those films are added to the spending on such upcoming releases as "The Women," "Bachelor No. 2," and "Pink Panther 2" - which were all shooting in and around Boston in recent months - the numbers really pop.

The combined budget for those six films: $277 million. Massachusetts's share? Fifty-six percent - $154 million, spread out over 2006 and 2007.

That's meant more jobs, with membership in Local 481 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts now topping 500.

Paleologos also noted that in July the Hollywood-based P3 Update Magazine ranked Massachusetts in the top five locations in which to shoot, along with New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Louisiana. The magazine said the state is "back on the map as one of the most up-and-coming contenders in the tax incentive arena."

Joe Maiella, president of the Massachusetts Production Coalition and senior vice president of CrewStar, a Southborough agency, says "now that the MPC has been successful in fostering production-incentive legislation, we're turning our focus on to workforce development."

Ed Peselman, spokesman for the MPC and principal of Gray Matter Entertainment in Watertown, added that the coalition has been talking about ways to fill out the services the state presents to out-of-town productions. Ideas include offering symposiums to educate local crew and production professionals and providing supplemental training.

"The MPC is also working on letting people know that these incentives are not just geared toward Hollywood, but can also benefit the new media and advertising communities as well," Peselman says. "The influx of revenue can trickle down to other sectors such as transportation, hospitality, and retail."

Meanwhile, the website for the state film office continues to get stronger. It now features a database alphabetical by town name of whom to contact about getting permits, with links to e-mail addresses and websites. It's at mafilm .org.

NEW ENGLAND DIRECTOR: Judith Wechsler will present her 45-minute work "Monet's Water Lilies" Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and next Sunday at noon at the Museum of Fine Arts. The film tells the story of how Monet came to paint his huge panel images of the water lilies at his pond in Giverny.

Wechsler, a professor of art history at Tufts University, was commissioned by the Orangerie Museum in Paris to make this film for its reopening. The movie is now shown several times a day there.

Wechsler has had a fascinating career, making 22 films on art - Cézanne, Daumier, Pissarro, and Manet among her subjects - and writing three books on art history. A little over a year ago, she was awarded the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her 50-year focus on French art.

She'll lead a discussion after both screenings of "Monet's Water Lilies." Details are at 617-267-9300 and mfa.org/film.

CALLING ALL MENTORS (AND MENTEES): Members of Women in Film & Video/New England are invited to apply to get (or become) a mentor. The program is designed to help create more webs within the region's network of filmmakers. Mentees will participate in a four-hour workshop to clarify their goals, while mentors commit to two face-to-face meetings and four phone calls.

Applications are due Dec. 15. Information is at wifvne.org.

SCREENINGS OF NOTE: The films of Shohei Imamura, who died last year, are at the Harvard Film Archive this weekend through Dec. 14 (617-495-4700 and hcl.harvard.edu/hfa) . . . The best of the "Do It Your Own Damn Self!!" National Youth Video and Film Festival, produced by the Community Art Center in Cambridge, plays on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre (617-876-6837 and brattlefilm.org) . . . And two 1980s works by Peter Greenaway, "The Draughtsman's Contract" and "A Zed and Two Noughts," are showing Thursday and Saturday at the MFA.

Leslie Brokaw can be reached at lbrokaw@globe.com.

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