Film Industry Lauds UMass Boston Report

The Center for Independent Documentary is happy to endorse a new report by the University of Massachusetts Boston that finds that the film and television industry is not only growing in Massachusetts, but is having a positive effect on the Commonwealth’s economy, creating jobs during economic downturn.  The new report updates the information that was presented in a previous AIMM report about the film industry in Massachusetts- LENS ON THE BAY STATE, and shows how effective the tax credits and the creation of a state film office have been in building the industry in Massachusetts.

The report titled “Film and Television Production in Massachusetts: 2010 Industry Overview and Analysis” was written by professor Pacey Foster and Professor David Terkla, both of UMass Boston, with the assistance of Robert Laubacher of the MIT Sloan School of Management. The research was made possible by a grant from the President’s Creative Economy Initiatives fund at the University of Massachusetts Boston, with additional support from the Adams Arts Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Joseph Maniella, President of the MPC, noted that the findings of the UMass Boston report square perfectly with the Coalition’s understanding of the performance of the film industry in Massachusetts. The MPC represents the largest and most diverse group of Massachusetts-based business and labor in the film and television industry. “The film credit has been responsible for the creation of more than $1 billion in new jobs and new direct spending, according to the state Department of Revenue,” Mr. Maiella said. “This has helped to offset job losses in particularly hard-hit trades such as construction and transportation.”
“The UMass report’s findings confirm that the film and television industry in Massachusetts is poised to enjoy continued growth, thereby creating more new in-state jobs during the worst recession in 60 years,” he observed.

Here are some of the reports key findings

  • Employment in film and television production has increased in Massachusetts during a period when total state employment has been on the decline.
    • Between 2005 and the third quarter of 2008, the number of motion picture production employees rose by 117%, post-production and other employees grew by 126%, and independent artists in the Commonwealth grew by 8%.
  • Massachusetts is among the fastest growing locations for film and television production in the United States, according to data from the Motion Picture Association of America (2009) as well as national data on employment and wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    • Between 2007 and 2008, while work declined in traditional centers like California (-9%) and New York (-5%), it grew rapidly in states like Georgia (12.20%) and Massachusetts (80%). Massachusetts had the third largest growth rate among the top 25 most active states in the country.
    • Since the enactment of the film credit in Massachusetts, total employment in the motion picture and video industries in Massachusetts has increased 33%, with two industry sectors reflecting average wages in 2008 of $61,225 and $94,316. (This appears to be correct, but I think referring to “industry sectors” is vague. It would be better to specify what they were. However, the report doesn’t make that information clear.)
  • Job growth in the film and television industry has helped to offset job losses in particularly hard-hit trades like construction and transportation.
    • Many of the jobs in the film industry use many of the same skills that are required in construction and other, similar trades. Thus, the rapid increase in film industry employment during this period has helped absorb some of the laid-off construction employees.

The increase in major studio productions has enabled some of the local crew base to continue to live and work in Massachusetts.

  • Some states with more generous credits have not experienced as much growth as Massachusetts. The report points out that, because of its combination of desirable locations, a large university community, tax incentives, and Boston’s status as a world-class city that is desirable to talent, Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to become a new hub of film production.
  • The report analyzes the total additional impact on the economy that the film sector has created, interpreting the output multipliers to mean that an additional dollar generated by the film sector will produce an additional $.95 of output value in the Commonwealth and that a new job generated in the film sector produces .79 additional jobs in the Commonwealth.

Chris O’Donnell, IATSE Local 481 Business Manager and chair of the MPC’s legislative committee, and Susi Walsh, MPC member and Executive Director of the Center for Independent Documentary , said that, while they are encouraged by the report’s findings, the film credit cap recently suggested by the governor will have a negative effect on the local film industry.

“This is an industry that is working,” said Mr. O’Donnell. “While we empathize with the Governor’s need to identify revenue to help fill the budget gap, we are concerned that his $50 million cap on the credit  will drive the film and television industry to another state. Sending a dollar of business away to other states in order to save a dime for the treasury doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Ms. Walsh added, “Moviemakers depend on a stable work environment. Introducing elements of uncertainty and instability into the industry is a bad combination for film and television producers who are  considering doing business in the Commonwealth. We must  resolve this issue as soon as possible in order to keep alive the film business and the thousands of new jobs and local businesses it has created.”

Rather than simply focusing on the revenue implications of the state film tax incentive program, the UMass report looks more broadly at the production practices and recent growth trends in the local film and television industry.  Most notably, it uncovers trends in the structure of non-wage spending patterns in this local industry and identifies a core cluster of local film service businesses that are servicing many of the large studio productions that are making films in Massachusetts. .Non-wage spending in the Commonwealth between 2006 and 2008 exceeded $200M with $56.8 spent on location fees, $29.3 spent on hotels and housing, $27.2M spent on set construction and $17.7 spent on food.

View the MPC press release endorsing the UMass Boston Report: http://documentaries.org/UMASS-Report.pdf

Complete UMass Boston Report: http://www.management.umb.edu

Articles featuring the MPC endorsement of the UMass Report and updates on the film tax credit provided by the state film office:http://www.mafilm.org/news-and-events/

Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2010/02/11

Boston Herald: http://bostonherald.com/business/media

Share