Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mike's got it right:

Film tax credit helps middle class
December 29, 2011

With Plymouth Rock Studios disappearing like the Pilgrims from Provincetown and now Cape filmmaker Daniel Adams indicted on fraud and making a sham of the Massachusetts film tax credit, it would seem that filmmaking in Massachusetts just isn't meant to be.

Whatever the outcome will be for Adams, he has already done serious damage to the image of not just the tax credit, but the entire industry of state film tax credits. In the next few years, we may discover there were other Adams' and production companies who broke similar laws.

But the Adams case is a small unsavory footnote in a story that begins about six years ago when the credit was signed into law.

Our protagonist in the story of the Massachusetts film tax credit is the middle class. The tax credit is one of the great accomplishments of the state in recent memory and has boosted the number of middle-class jobs in the state, attracted many productions to film in Massachusetts and poured money into many communities.

Most people in the film industry don't fly back and forth between their Cape Cod compound and Los Angeles home in The Hills. The film business is comprised of some of the hardest working Americans who come from every walk of life. Have you ever seen the credits at the end of a movie? Mostly everyone listed has a decently paid job. They are also a part of some of the greatest American unions.

Usually, production crews work over 16 hours a day and sometimes hit 90-plus hours a week. Many live in the Los Angeles and New York City metro areas, but some are fortunate enough to make a living in major markets like Boston.

Between 2006 (the year the incentive began) to 2009, Massachusetts realized over $267 million in annual benefits to the economy. Since then we have seen even more productions come to Massachusetts and the benefits continue to rise.

There's also an immeasurable effect on the human psyche that a film's location can have. Who knows how many saw Good Will Hunting, The Perfect Storm, Mystic River, Glory, The Departed, The Social Network, The Fighter and so many other films; who were inspired to come to the state and spend their money while walking the same streets so they can see what their favorite protagonist saw on the cinematic journey.

Lastly, I'd like to tell a quick story. There's a boy from a modest home whose family moved to Cape Cod in search of a better community to raise their children. They found a community of artists and educated citizens that would embrace that boy who would help him follow his dreams and spend a career doing what he loved to do.

I am that boy. One day I hope to work full time making major motion pictures in Massachusetts. There are many with similar aspirations and need the work and there are many more opportunities to be made in this state.

Please continue to stay educated on the matter and not to be persuaded by one man's alleged actions. We can't afford to be easily discouraged in times like this.

Mike McGuirk of New York City, an apprentice at the Directors Guild of America Trainee Program, is a native of Cotuit and a 2005 graduate of Barnstable High School.