Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to yell “Cut!” to tax breaks for filmmaking in Massachusetts has the local film industry incensed.
“Eliminating the tax credit is going to immediately drive jobs, motion pictures, television shows and don’t forget television commercials out of the state,” said Margie Sullivan, executive producer at Boston-based Redtree Productions, and president of the Massachusetts Production Coalition. “There is no reason for the productions to come to Massachusetts without the incentive. They have other options.”
Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled his first budget this week and proposed dropping the tax credit, which first went into effect in 2006. Movies filmed in the state during the last eight years include The Departed, The Town, Gone Baby Gone, American Hustle and The Social Network.
Baker says the state would be better off doubling tax credits for low-income families instead of subsidizing movies.
People like Sullivan disagree.
“I don’t think it makes sense to put people out of work to help other working people,” she said.
She said any elimination of the tax credit could affect thousands of jobs, including dry cleaners, hardware stores, police, seamstresses and caterers.
“It’s a very unfortunate thing,” she said. “The damage is going to trickle down. Any project looking to book for 2016 is going to pull out and go elsewhere.”
Brian Drewes, co-founder of Zero VFX, a Boston-based effects studio, said his company started five years ago as two people in a basement. Now, they have 52 employees and 12,000 square feet in Back Bay. Eliminating film tax incentives would “reduce our growth, that’s for sure,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s such a good idea,” he said.
Harry James owns New Bedford’s New England Demolition and Salvage, which provides productions with movie props. On Thursday alone, his company packed three trucks full of movie props, he said.
“I think they ought to have a tax credit, that’s what’s going to keep the business here,” he said. “Otherwise they’ll go to Rhode Island. The tax credit, he said “brings people in and does us good. It’s good for business.”