Moviemakers seen less likely to go east

Since its financing deal fell apart late last year, Plymouth Rock Studios has been
focusing on finding and securing the millions of dollars it will need to build its film and
television production campus in Plymouth. But what may make that search even
tougher is the recent release of Governor Deval Patrick’s 2011 budget proposal, which
includes a $50 million cap on film company tax credits per year for both 2011 and 2012.

Since the state’s expansion of the film credit program under Patrick three years ago,
there has been no yearly cap. Film producers have received tax credits for 25 percent of
what they spend in Massachusetts.

According to the Massachusetts Production Coalition, that tax incentive has helped to
generate more than $1 billion in new economic activity. People connected to the film
industry say they fear the proposed cap on credits would affect decisions by West
Coast producers to work in Massachusetts - and discourage potential investors from the
Plymouth studio project.

Plymouth Rock Studios chief financial officer Joseph DiLorenzo said the governor’s tax
credit proposal will also affect long-term commitments to the state by those looking to
build sound stages and production facilities. “It would be very difficult for us to spend
hundreds of millions of dollars without the tax credits to draw the moviemakers here,’’
DiLorenzo said.

“Even having discussion about a reduction in the incentive could have an effect.’’ David
Kirkpatrick, who heads up Rock Entertainment, the creative affiliate of Plymouth Rock
Studios, said the Plymouth Rock team will lobby state lawmakers, who have yet to
discuss the proposed film-credit cap, to try to get the Legislature on its side. “Our
position is this was a stimulus package created by the Commonwealth until 2023, in
order to bring a vibrant new business to the state,’’ he said.

Kirkpatrick said rumors of the tax cap in Massachusetts are already circulating in
Hollywood and the consensus out West is the tax incentives are fundamental to
growing a movie and television industry here. He said he was confident legislators will
keep the tax-credit program open-ended, rather than approve the cap. But that
optimism was not shared by state Representative Ronald Mariano, a Quincy Democrat
who has lobbied hard for a similar film production complex, called SouthField Studios,
proposed at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.

Most state representatives, in Mariano’s opinion, don’t have a strong appetite for
maintaining an open-ended tax credit program for the film industry. “I think 90 percent
of them don’t care about it,’’ he said. “It’s not even on their radar.’’ A frustrated
Mariano said such a cap would also end the need for infrastructure to support the film
and television industry.
Cap on Credits Could Kill Campus
by Roland Hansen
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