Since the introduction of a competitive Film Tax Credit Incentive Programme in 2007, and the opening of a Hollywood-style studio in 2013, the Bay State has growin into its new nickname of Hollywood East. Unique among US states in that commercials also qualify for the state’s Film Tax Credits of 25% of in-state production expenditure, Massachusetts has become a destination for national spot production as well. Massachusetts also offers a film finance fund administered by Coastal Capital Advisors LLC. The fund makes it possible for films to be made in Massachusetts by investing in some, lending money to others, and monetising the tax credits they earn. Costal Capital Advisors LLC also works with other service providers in the state to bring film projects to 100% funding.
Massachusetts sits on the northeast coast of the US, one of the six New England states (the others are Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). It also boarders the state of New York.
The state’s geography is quite varied. The Berkshire Hills in the west offer pastoral rural landscapes, quintessential New England town greens and gilded-era country estates, as well as small town main streets. The central part of the state consists of small cities, like the not overly-modernised Springfield, Worcester and Lawrence that have been the settings for period films. The eastern part includes the beaches and harbours of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. There are also three national historical parks which can be used for filming: Minute Man, Lowell and Boston, plus eight national historic sites: Longfellow, Saugus Iron Works Salem Maritime, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Springfield Armory, Frederick Law Olmsted, Boston African American and Adams. There are three 'living history museums' that can be used for period production: the 19th century Old Sturbridge Village, 18th century Deerfield Village and the 17th century Plimouth Plantation settlement.
But Massachusetts' most famous location is the capital Boston. A film-friendly city, movies set in Boston will actually film in the city and surrounding areas. Its ethnic enclaves of Charlestown, Southie and Dorchester have been the settings for many memorable, distinctively 'Boston' movies. The architecture of its downtown is also varied enough that Boston can double for just about any city in the western world (it doubled as Paris in Steve Martin's 2009 version of The Pink Panther 2. The city is also a major US port.
Kathryn Bigelow filmed Boston as Detroit for her 2017 movie Detroit, set during the riots of 1967, and Paul Feig filmed Boston as New York for his all-female version of Ghostbusters.
Examples of films that used Boston to depict Boston are also not hard to find. Arguably the most notable has been Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, which scored the much-lauded director an overdue Best Picture Oscar in 2006. Scorsese used Boston locations again in 2010 for the mind-bending Shutter Island, adapted from a novel by Bostonian Dennis Lehane. With their gritty portrayal of the harbor city, the author’s works have inspired both debuting directors (Ben Affleck with Gone Baby Gone) and veteran directors (Clint Eastwood with Mystic River.) More recently, Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton starred in Black Mass (2015), which was a international box office success, as was David O'Russell's feature film Joy (2015), featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.
Joy was O'Russell's second Massachusetts-shot film to become a hit, with his American Hustle (which filmed in the cities of Worcester, Salem, Malden, and Medford) receiving ten Oscar nominations.
Sandra Bullock’s female buddy cop comedy The Heat (2013) and Ryan Reynolds’ fight against the undead as a member of the R.I.P.D (2013), also filmed in Massachusetts, as did the coming-of-age tale The Way Way Back (2013). The Social Network (2010) used the city of Cambridge, situated just across the Charles River and the home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Instiitute of Technology (M.I.T.), as the perfect place for filming a college-based drama – as Good Will Hunting did in 1997. Bruce Willis’ sci-fi fable Surrogates (2009) skipped around Hopedale, Lynn, Milford, Taunton and other towns and cities to nail its near-future aesthetic, whereas Little Women (1994) turned the living history museum of Deerfiled Village into the 1860s and Glory (1989) used the living history museum of Old Sturbridge Village to recreate the American Civil War. Further back still to the mid-70s, the original summer blockbuster Jaws used Martha’s Vineyard for the sleepy coastal town that develops a shark problem.
The Massachusetts Film Office handles permits for locations that are owned or controlled by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The film office provides a list of the different jurisdictions with contact details to find out more.
For Boston, filming is allowed in a range of streets, neighbourhoods, historic landmarks, parks and churches. The Department of Public Works is the place to go to for permits for shooting on streets, sidewalks and public ways. The fee is generally $20 per day, per location.
In 2013, Massachusetts opened its first Hollywood-style film studio New England Studios. The 15.7-acre complex is 45 minutes from downtown Boston and offers four 18,000 sq ft sound stages. Each 150' X 120' stage offers 46' clearance to Hollywood-style perms, nailable floors, separate dimmer rooms and 7200A of power per stage. An attached three-storey production support building includes dressing rooms, hair and make-up salons, production office suites and conference rooms.
One of the newest stages in the world, NE Studios offers 1GB Fiber Optic connectivity (upgradable to 10GB), teleconferencing and both a private and public Wi-Fi network throughout the campus. Built on the site of a former Army base, the surrounding town of Devens offers varied back lots including residential neighbourhoods, an industrial park, wooded areas, an airfield and a historic Georgian-style barracks complex that can double as a university campus. In Devens and the surrounding area there are two business-class hotels and residence accommodations for crew, as well as four-star hotels and country estates for talent.
With an incentive for films to spend as much of their budget in the state as possible, Massachusetts' post houses have matured in recent years into nationally-recognised edit and visual affects facilities capable of handling feature and large spot work. Brickyard VFX (Boston & Santa Monica) provided visual effects for the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy The Proposal (2009), as well as for commercials for large national brands like Bud Light and Bank of America. Sharon-based Stable Productions deals with music and sound mixing. Stock Video and TVN-The Video Network (Groton, Ashland) also provide post-production services.
The Massachusetts Film Office provides an inventory of photographs covering the diverse locations to be found in the state. There are nearly 2,000 in an ever-growing list, a range that includes (but is by no means limited to) grand hotels, rocky shorelines, mountain estates, family homes, mansions, boat houses, beaches, shore front properties, 17th Century churches, sports stadiums, bridges, parks, and urban landscapes.
Talamas, an innovative rental and sales company founded in 1979, provides state-of-the-art camera equipment to film and television industries nationwide. The rental and sales divisions at Talamas can provide digital cinema equipment options suitable for any production, from feature films to commercials, reality TV shows to documentaries, and more.
New England Studios’ lighting and grip department is the premier source for trucks, trailers, generators, and dollies for both productions shooting on location as well as on their stages. The Boston Connection Inc. (Cotuit) and High Output, Inc (Canton) also rent and sell equipment.as does Broadcast Pix Inc. TVN-The Video Network in Ashland can provide crew.
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