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Lights, camera, action: Hingham officials hope to attract film crews

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  August 1, 2012 04:56 PM

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If Selectmen Chair Laura Burns has anything to say about it, Hingham will be the next popular place for film crews to set up shop.

The idea is one Burns has had since last January, when she attended a workshop at the Massachusetts Municipal Association conference on the economic benefits of being open to film productions.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of such cities as Boston and Quincy, where hosting film crews has proven successful, Burns is intrigued about the small amount of filming already being done in the town.

“Film crews are already coming into town and setting up shop,” Burns said. “A month ago we had Powerhouse Productions from Davis Square, and they filmed two shows for an HGTV series. They came in and they got all their permits and did some filming, and I went over to check it out.”

Not only was the event a success, but according to a report filed by Powerhouse, the film crew spent $54,000 in the town in the few days they were around.

“That’s the benefit we’re talking about. And they will come, if there is something here interesting to them,” Burns said.

Although film crews are already making their way into town, Burns hopes to streamline the process to make it easier to come to Hingham, and perhaps, increase the number of companies willing to use Hingham as their home base.

The first priority is to find a point person who can approve permits quickly.

“Every time they go somewhere to shoot it's different…they are looking for one contact person at Town Hall that can figure out what permits they need and how to get them,” Burns said. “The town could be set up for this. When you have an easy system like that, it makes production companies more likely to return.”

According to Burns, both the police chief and fire chief are on board with the initiative. Additionally, the Hingham Downtown Association and Hingham Industrial Commission are supportive of the idea.

The next step is to garner the support of selectmen, who are reviewing a draft production permit form that may be used in the process.

For Selectman Bruce Rabuffo, the idea has a lot of promise.

“It’s an opportunity as another source [of revenue], and Hingham has been approached several times if would we make ourselves available…nothing concrete yet, but the idea is if we could do it, we have a lot of good scenery, not just the ocean, water, and woods, but the houses that could be employed in that vein,” Rabuffo said.

The concern is how flexible the town would need to be with their own resources and what benefit the town would get from it.

“The question is why would the town be inconvenienced if they don’t get any money out of it, so you need a good negotiator. [But] it’s a good opportunity,” Rabuffo said.

If selectmen joined on to the idea, Hingham could register with the Massachusetts Film Office as a “film friendly town.”.That organization would then promote the location to scouts, Burns said.

The town could also market itself to location-scouting companies.

Most likely, the types of productions that would come to Hingham would be commercial in nature, Burns said.

“The most likely thing is we would attract more commercial advertising and filming. When people think film production, they think feature films, but since we’re near Boston, it's more likely we would get advertising work,” she said.

Burns said selectmen have not yet scheduled the item for discussion; however, she hopes to put it on an agenda for September.

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