News & Events

House speaker: Jobs from gambling, movies are key to helping state

Outlines his plan to prime the Massachusetts economy

By Nancy Reardon
Quincy Patriot Ledger
October 14, 2009

QUINCY — The answer to the state’s budget woes is job creation through expanding the gambling and film production industries, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Tuesday. Defending the state’s push for gambling and its controversial film tax credit program, DeLeo told The Patriot Ledger editorial board that one of his priorities is job creation.

“The biggest issue we have is providing jobs, jobs and more jobs,” he said.
DeLeo said the most effective strategy for pulling the state out of its fiscal crisis is a long-term approach, but also talked about the need for more immediate budget cuts.

DeLeo said he plans to file legislation to bring resort casinos to the state in 2011. He also noted his longstanding support for slots at racetracks. The Legislature was scheduled to take up the gambling debate this fall but pushed it back. DeLeo said it wasn’t a delay tactic, but done to make sure there’s time to “get it right the first time.”

He also said the film tax credit is a “good investment” for the state.

The state offers filmmakers a tax credit that equals 25 percent of what they spend on production and payroll costs in state. Many film companies sell those credits at a discount to firms and individuals that are based here and can claim the credits against their income taxes.

DeLeo admitted he was skeptical of the program at its inception. But he recalled visiting a TV shoot at the State House earlier this year and learning that most workers on the film crew were from Massachusetts. When asked what else they would be doing, he said many told him they would otherwise be unemployed.

But some watchdog groups point out that the state’s return on investment is very small. And a state Department of Revenue report indicates the film industry only generates 16 cents for every dollar the state forgives in taxes.

All of this comes at a time when the state’s revenues are far below expectations. At the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year that began July 1, the state’s tax collections were $212 million below expectations, according to the state Department of Revenue’s most recent report. That report looks at sales, income, corporate and motor-vehicle taxes.

As a result of the shortfall, DeLeo said, the 2010 budget could end up as high as $600 million out of balance. Watchdog groups on government spending like the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center say that estimate sounds about right.

And what it means to residents is emergency budget cuts – called 9C cuts – to state services and the local aid that supports municipal budgets. “I wouldn’t be honest to tell them not to be concerned,” DeLeo, a former town selectman, said of local officials. “It’s going to be very difficult.”

With the state’s many support programs under the umbrella of its Health and Human Services Department already spread thin, the House speaker also said municipalities may need to bear the brunt of cuts.

“Every city and town has issues with local aid, Chapter 70 (education funding) and all that,” he said. “But problems with drug abuse and mental illness are out there. There’s only so many places we can cut.”

DeLeo said he won’t support new tax increases that some representatives have pitched to him – including a gas, water and candy tax, and raising the income tax. “I don’t see any appetite at all for further taxation,” he told The Patriot Ledger editorial board as part of a larger discussion of the state’s fiscal crisis.

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Film industry gives local businesses a boost

By Anna Rice
The Huntington News
October 8, 2009

A few years ago, Angela Peri ran Boston Casting in a small, one-room office. She worked mainly on commercials, industrial training videos, some theater and some print advertising. But when Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a 25 percent film tax credit in July 2006, Peri said she knew everything was about to change.


“The day that the governor signed the tax incentive I said to the person next to me, ‘There goes my life as I know it,’” she said. “I had a hallway that I had to make into an office.”


Peri said she has supplied talent to most of the big budget feature films made in Massachusetts over the past three years, and her revenue has increased by about 30 percent. Over the last two years, she worked on “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” starring Kevin James, “The Fighter” starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, “The Proposal” starring Sandra Bullock and more.


She said she is working with some of the movies currently filming in Massachusetts but could not disclose information about them.


Other businesses supplying necessary services to the film industry have also seen growth since the tax credit. In July 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue reported new direct spending on film and television production generated by the film tax credit since 2006 was $676 million. When the “ripple effect” on local businesses and people was factored in, the total economic output was more than $870 million.


“The film tax credit is in place until the year 2022, so I think we can anticipate that Massachusetts, in a very short period of time, will be the Northeast center in the country for film, television and digital media production,” said Nick Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, which assists filmmakers with location scouting, tax credit information, crew referrals, permitting and more.


Paleologos said the film industry has provided new jobs for thousands of Massachusetts residents and utilized the services of many hotels, catering companies, restaurants, makeup artists, hair salons, art galleries, security companies and more.


Movies currently being filmed in the Boston area include “The Zookeeper” starring Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler and James, “The Untitled Wichita Project” starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz and “The Town” starring Ben Affleck and Blake Lively.


Dave Talamas, owner of Talamas Broadcast Equipment Inc. in Newton, said his business has nearly quadrupled since the tax credit went into effect by supplying two-way radios, monitors, props, and other audio and visual equipment to films.
“We’ve become the go-to people for two-way radios,” Talamas said. “It’s also increased our business in general production because word gets around.”


Maria Lekkakos, owner of M. Lekkakos Salon, Spa and Boutique in Wenham, which specializes in providing spa services to movie productions, said that since June, she has worked regularly with three of the productions filming in Massachusetts. She said she has had the opportunity to work on celebrities like Salma Hayek, Brooke Shields and Maya Rudolph.


“Someone hears about my background and it goes by word of mouth,” Lekkakos said. “And the production will call me and put me on. That makes someone want to come get a facial by me or try me out.”


Lekkakos said she plans to work with future films doing work in Massachusetts as well.
Businesses directly related to films are not the only ones benefiting from their presence. Some local business owners said they have seen a boost in sales after word spreads that they have celebrity clients. 


Megan Wood, owner of Brookline-based Olive Green Apparel, gave Diaz a pair of her mittens while Diaz was filming for “The Untitled Wichita Project”, which is slated to be released in theaters in the summer of 2010, at Gaslight Brasserie in the South End. Wood said she has already seen an increase in online business due to coverage in the Boston Herald’s Inside Track, a section covering celebrity gossip and entertainment.


“We’re definitely hoping for People Magazine or US Weekly to get a shot of her wearing them [the mittens],” Wood said. “It would be great for business.”


Christina Bartkus, owner of Pure Chocolate in Quincy, said her chocolate has been given as gifts at wrap parties and on the sets of “The Zookeeper” and “Grown Ups,” starring Sandler and Hayek. The films provided a boost to her business during an otherwise slow summer season this year, she said.


Bartkus said Steffiana De La Cruz, wife of James, was the one who discovered her shop and decided to use her chocolate as gifts.


“It’s been great because I’m able to hit a demographic that normally people pay thousands and thousands of dollars to hit through public relations firms and gifting lounges,” Bartkus said.


Like Olive Green Apparel, Pure Chocolate’s online business has increased due to coverage in the Boston Herald’s Inside Track, and Bartkus said people have stopped by the store after hearing about her new celebrity following. Members of the cast and crew who live on the west coast have also told her they will continue to place orders online, she said.


“I’m not sure if I would ever have had exposure like this if it was not happening in my own backyard,” Bartkus said.

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Brigham Road in Waltham the scene of Cameron Diaz movie

By Joyce Kelly
Waltham Daily News Tribune
October 07, 2009

Diaz in Waltham on Wichita
Staff photo by Ken McGagh
Cameron Diaz was in Waltham filming “The Untitled Wichita Project” today. The crew was at 11 Brigham Road. The film also stars Tom Cruise, who was not in the city.

WALTHAM — In the blink of an eye, a streak of blonde hair splashed up in the wind as Cameron Diaz was whisked into an unassuming silver Toyota Prius on Brigham Road.

A small crowd lined up on the sidewalk to catch a glimpse of Diaz or Tom Cruise filming a segment of “Untitled Wichita Project’’ on Wednesday suddenly erupted in brief applause at her fleeting appearance.

An officer on detail yelled to a fellow officer, “You missed her!’’

“Aawwww,’’ the officer lamented, shaking his head.

As they watched the Prius slink away, two disappointed women at the scene complained, “She should have stopped to wave.’’ But for the most part, the brush with Diaz and the film crew was good enough.



“I’m so excited. I can’t fall asleep. It’s weird,’’ said 13-year-old Grace Herron, an eighth-grader at McDevitt Middle School. The Herrons see themselves as the lucky family whose home 20th Century Fox chose to use in the film starring Cruise and Diaz.



“All my friends are jealous – but not in a (catty) way,’’ said Grace Herron, who couldn’t stop smiling.

Her parents, Tod and Rose Herron, also said they were thrilled about the whole production at their house at 11 Brigham Road, a simple, pale yellow colonial.



“I loved him from his movies,’’ said Rose Herron.

Tod Herron said, “My favorite is an old one – ‘Risky Business.’’’ 



The Herrons said they were not allowed by contract to discuss why their home was selected or other details, but said everyone involved in the film was “great’’ to them.

Police and neighbors said there were no prima donnas among the actors or film crews – the locals said the movie professionals have been respectful, considerate and generous since they arrived yesterday morning around 8. And no limo for Diaz – who insisted on riding in a Toyota Prius.

“She’s eco-friendly, so they had to have hybrid cars for her,’’ said Officer Joseph Guigno.

Guigno, who is also a neighbor, said the production is good for the neighborhood, the city, and the economy in general.



Crew members, who all hit up D’Angelo’s for lunch yesterday, have been using a lot of the local facilities and restaurants, he noted. As a neighbor, Guigno said, “It’s nice when I’m out walking my dog, to see something going on that’s kind of exciting.’’

Tom Keene, who lives across the street at 110 Main St., opined that the production would likely be good for future home sales as well. The movie producers approached his wife, Marianne Keene, who runs “Keene Cuts’’ out of her home, to ask permission to for a shot panning over their house, he said. She immediately said yes, and then let him know about it, he said, laughing.



“I’m laid-back, I don’t mind. My wife is excited,’’ said Keene, a welding teacher at Waltham Vocational High School. “I’m assuming they chose my house it’s because it’s a stately-looking property,’’ Keene said, Guigno nodding in agreement.

Neighbors at 31 Brigham Road, William and Margaret “Peggy’’ Lee, were also delighted to get a little piece of the action.

“They borrowed my chair! If they don’t cut the scene, my chair will be in the movie – my chair will be famous,’’ said Peggy Lee, laughing. Peggy Lee was out on the sidewalk early enough to catch Diaz when she emerged from the house and “gave a little smile and wave.’’



“She was very beautiful, very natural-looking. And very tall,’’ said Peggy Lee.

The whole production has been fun, and the crews, wonderful, she said. William Lee, peering across the road at the crews hustling around his neighbors’ lawn, called the local filming “once in a lifetime.’’



Neighbor Christina Pulselli said she was hoping to get a glimpse of Cameron Diaz. Watertown resident Janet Powers took a little half-hour break from her routine to watch the production.



“Who am I waiting to see? Anybody!,’’ she said, laughing.

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Tom Cruises into lecture at Harvard Law

Boston Herald – The Inside Track
By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
October 7, 2009

Cruise at Harvard
Photo by Jessica Corsi

Tom Cruise isn’t an attorney, but he’s played one on the big screen and the other day the Hollywood heavy was in Cambridge auditing a class at Harvard Law School!

According to Harvard Law Record blogger Jessica Corsi, Cruise popped into celebrity attorney Bertram Fields’ guest lecture in professor Bruce Hay’s entertainment-law class. After announcing he had never heard his buddy lecture before, Cruise took a seat in the back of the class at Langdell South and even participated in the two-hour discussion.

Apparently, Fields, who is a 1952 Crimson alum, and Cruise are quite tight in Tinseltown. Hence, Tom’s appearance.

“Throughout his discussion, Fields would refer questions back to Tom, and Cruise would also interject his own experiences,” Corsi blogged. “He spoke about tabloid magazines . . . working with director Stanley Kubrick and the business of how the ratings on movies get set in the U.S. as opposed to Europe.”

The students, were, of course, blown away.

The leading man also talked about the paparazzi, his children and how he deals with the omnipresent cameramen.

“(H)is daughter, Suri, has, according to Cruise, some comical responses,” reported the Record writer. “For example, she will sometimes throw down her hands and say, ‘Why is this person following me?’ She has responded to encroachments on her privacy by raising a hand and declaring, ‘Personal space!’ ”

The students, although star-struck by Cruise, acted cool by continuing their usual classroom activities of taking notes, GChatting and surfing retail Web sites, said Jessica. But by the end of the class, “a bush fire of text messages, emails and IMs” swept through campus and the room was crowded with kids who hadn’t signed up for Hay’s course. How odd.

Corsi wrote that Cruise stayed an hour after class to answer student questions – which is way more time than their own professors are able to give!

Hollywood’s Mr. Personable doled out advice, stories, high-fives, handshakes, hugs, and – even at one point – an impromptu dance. No couch jumping though.

File Under: One Classy Guy.

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Editorial: Roll film

Editorial
Berkshire Eagle
October 6, 2009

Movies are being made in Massachusetts, just not out here in the Berkshires. Boston and its surrounding communities may always dominate Bay State movie-making, but the Great Barrington-based Berkshire Film and Media Commission and its new executive director Diane Pearlman may help the county grab a share of movie studio bucks.

Boston has been the locale for two films at a time in recent months, with local boy Ben Affleck directing a big budget film in the city now. Tom Cruise is starring in a film being made in nearby Bridgewater. With a number of Boston-based crime novels like “Mystic River” being turned into films in recent years it isn’t surprising that Boston would be the locale for many films, but the city has aggressively courted the Hollywood film community and the Boston-based Massachusetts Film Office has an eastern orientation.

A former producer based in New York City and the co-founder of Mass. Illusion, the busy Lenox-based visual effects production company, Ms. Pearlman is a Berkshire resident with connections to the film industry. The Berkshires have served as the backdrop for several (largely forgettable) films over the years, but there has never been an organization like the Berkshire Film and Media Commission, now incorporated as a nonprofit, to serve as an advocate for the region.

According to a report released in July by the state Department of Revenue, productions of film, and also television, have tangible financial benefits. Since 2006, that production has generated $676 million in revenue, with another $200 million generated in spin-offs, such as the purchase of state goods and services by film crews. The report found that the state collected $3.6 million more in taxes than it paid out in tax credits to the industry, with that money paying immediate dividends because filmmakers must spend the money first before they can receive credits. Film production also generates publicity for a locale, a benefit that is difficult to measure in dollars and cents but is real nonetheless.

Movie box office is booming, in part because state of the art theaters like Pittsfield’s soon to open Beacon Cinema have dramatically enhanced the movie-going experience. Ancillary sales of DVDs are thriving and other electronic options are expanding. The movie pie is a substantial one, and even a small slice for the Berkshires would be tasty.



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Support for film industry still strong on Beacon Hill

But changes could be coming

by Jon Chesto
Quincy Patriot Ledger
October 5, 2009

It’s hard to get around Boston these days without running into a film crew or hearing about a movie shoot or a celebrity sighting. That’s one reason why I decided to write my latest column in The Patriot Ledger about an effort on Beacon Hill to give the state’s film tax credits a new level of scrutiny as part of a broader review of the state’s numerous tax incentives.

Film industry sources told me they don’t expect that legislative leaders will challenge the credits anytime in the near future, even though the Legislature briefly approved language suggested by the Patrick administration this past summer that would have significantly watered down the tax credit program. Lawmakers quickly wiped out that change – a $2 million cap on the amount that any film worker’s salary could count toward the state’s credits – before it could do any damage after industry reps explained that the change would scare away most big-budget flicks.

But the Patrick administration is under tremendous pressure due to an ongoing tax revenue shortfall (tax collections are down by about 10 percent in the first three months of the state’s current fiscal year). so I wouldn’t be surprised if the administration attempts to revive a similar measure in the future.

The Legislature will likely have the final say on this. Senate President Therese Murray has been a strong supporter of the industry. That’s not surprising: She could have a year-round film studio become the biggest private employer in Plymouth, her hometown, if the Plymouth Rock Studios project stays on track.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo seems supportive, but he didn’t want to commit to not watering down the program when I recently asked him about it. He’s waiting to discuss the issue with his revenue committee chairman, Rep. Jay Kaufman, who in turn is waiting for a revenue subcommittee to make its analysis about whether the state is getting an adequate bang for its buck from this and other tax credit programs. That report should be out by early next year in time for the next legislative budget debate.

In the film program’s first three years, the state doled out $166 million in credits. Meanwhile, the tax incentives helped generate more than $300 million in direct economic activity in Massachusetts – or more than $600 million when you count what the movie stars and other out-of-state film workers earned while they were working here.

The program remains a popular one, with a recent poll showing that about two-thirds of Massachusetts residents support it.

Even with the program’s successful track record and the high-profile nature of the industry, I’m not going to assume that the film production credits program will remain untouched. Certainly, the 25-percent credit rate for film productions is one of the most generous economic incentives provided by the state to any industry here. If the state revenue outlook doesn’t improve soon, the movie industry could become a tempting target for savings.

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Film panel names leader

By Derek Gentile
Berkshire Eagle
October 5, 2009

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Board of Directors of the Berkshire Film and Media Commission announced that they have appointed Diane Pearlman as its new executive director.

In a parallel development, the BFMC also announced that it has organized itself as a 501 c-3 non-profit corporation. Pearlman’s selection comes at a time of some debate about how robust the movie industry has been in Massachusetts over the past few years.

A report issued by the state Department of Revenue in July, indicated that direct spending on film and television production is more than $676 million. When the DOR’s “ripple effect” multiplier is factored in, the total economic output tops $870 million inside the state.

And while some analysts are critical of the program, the latest DOR report indicated that the state collected $3.6 million more in taxes that it paid out in credits over the last three years, because the law requires that filmmakers must first spend money in Massachusetts, and then pay taxes on that new spending, before they can receive or redeem any of those tax credits.

Since 2006, more than 3,000 new direct and indirect jobs were created, with a total of 62 percent of those jobs going to Massachusetts residents.

In May, the Boston Globe reported that California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger expressed concern that California was losing film industry jobs to Massachusetts.

“I think there are some naysayers out there,” said Pearlman. “But I also think the most recent numbers support the positive effect the industry has had on filmmaking.”

Following a successful career as a producer in New York City, Pearlman moved to the Berkshires in 1992 to work on a project at The Trumbull Company in Lenox. She went on to co-found Mass. Illusion, a visual effects production company in Lenox. Mass. Illusion has worked on several major films acclaimed for their visual effects, including “The Matrix” and “What Dreams May Come.” Currently, Pearlman is working as a producer on a feature film in development with the expectation that shooting will begin in the Berkshires in the spring.

According to the Massachusetts Film Office, 14 feature films were shot in Massachusetts last year, generating more than $359 million in revenue. The Berkshire Film and Media Commission is seeking to bring some of those production dollars to the county, said Pearlman.
“We would like to see some of that money out here,” she said.

BFMC, said Pearlman, is set up to act as a liaison between film production crews and the Berkshire community, whether it is providing locations, technical and logistical support or community expertise.



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YouTube: Mass. film tax credit makes dollars & sense – Oct 09



October 1, 2009 – The Massachusetts Film Office presents a short video highlighting the local economic impact of just 3 movies from the summer of 2009, in order to better illustrate how film and television production supports and sustains local businesses and communities. It was produced by MFO Director of Operations, Mary Chiochios.

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WCVB-TV 5: Phony producer luring would-be actresses – Sept 09

September 26, 2009 (WCVB-TV 5) – Krystal Kenville thought she was auditioning for a Hollywood movie starring Ben Stiller, but instead, the aspiring actress says, she was scammed by a phony movie producer who tried to get her to perform sex acts. Click here for full story.

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Surrogates Step by Step

Massachusetts effects company shares SURROGATES’ secrets.

“Production values are immaculate.”
—VARIETY September 24, 2009

Synthespians-Surrogates-1
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Synthespians-Surrogates-5

By Ellen Wolff
Millimeter
September 25, 2009

Cyborgs are always in style, as director Jonathan Mostow knows well. After delivering Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Mostow turned to Surrogates, a futuristic tale in which people remotely control robot versions of themselves. The Touchstone Pictures release features Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell as FBI agents and photoreal CG robots animated at Synthespian Studios. “They look human on the outside, but are mechanical underneath,” says Synthespian Visual Effects Supervisor Jeff Kleiser. “Our goal was to get the audience to believe that these surrogates are actually robots and not just actors pretending to be robots.”

In one scene, Willis and Mitchell confront an odd-looking landlady of an apartment building where a murder has been committed. “The idea was that this landlady’s normal surrogate was out for repair, so she’s using a cheapo temporary model that isn’t complete,” Kleiser says. “Originally, the production thought we could do this with a makeup effect, but this temp robot looked like someone in a bad Halloween costume. You could see that there was actually enough room for a person to be under the mask. So we suggested that if we substituted a CG head, along with a neck you could see through, then this clearly would have to be a robot.”

“It was an opportunity to expose that she was in fact a machine,” says Surrogates Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Stetson (whose many credits also include the cyborg classic Blade Runner). Stetson collaborated with Synthespians’ Concept Artist Diana Walczak to develop a new look for the robot, creating iterations of concept art done with Adobe Photoshop. “I did a sketch rotoing around the actor’s mask and using a bit of a CG skull that Synthespians had developed,” Stetson says. “Then we added bits of a robotic neck to the concept and developed a ‘homemade’ previz. We put a little repair sticker on it to emphasize that it was a rental unit. Jonathan Mostow approved that, and Synthespians took it from there.”

The scene unfolds in the hallway of an apartment building, and Stetson had shot the stills of the hallway that would later be inserted as a background for the actors, who were filmed against greenscreen. “We took measurements when we shot the greenscreen,” Stetson says. “The very last thing I did was go back to that hallway to match the camera positions for the various takes that were done there, so we could tile the background images in Photoshop.”

The shot was constructured primarily at the Synthespians studio in Williamstown, Mass. Since the camera was moving and the landlady was walking around in the shot, the Synthespians team tracked the motion of her performance and the camera using Autodesk Maya and 2d3 boujou software. “The camera move was subtle, but because the landlady was walking and turning her head the shot required a fair amount of tracking,” Kleiser says.

The photographed image of the actor wearing the mask was selectively rotoscoped out of the plate photography using a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Apple Shake. The animation of the CG robot face that replaced it was done in Maya. “[The animation emphasized] that this robot was like a junk rental car. We wanted to preserve the actor’s mouth because it had a creepy quality,” Kleiser says. “We could have replaced the whole head with a CG head, but there was something interesting about the way her mouth roughly matched the dialogue. It had approximate lip-sync that was not very articulated, so you could believe that it was a low-rent robot. And we would have had to spend a lot of time doing lip-sync in the computer, so we kept it.

“We then had to light our CG elements to match the lighting of the scene. That was a little tricky because this shot had not been tagged originally as a visual effects shot. I was an on-set supervisor during filming, so if I’d known it was going to become an effects shot I would have gotten HDRI [high-dynamic-range imaging] information. Fortunately, Mark Stetson had a data logger for every shot who got all the pertinent data on the camera, including the lens that was used and the height of the camera and so forth. But the only information we had about the lighting was what we could see in the plate photography—such as where the shadows fell—and Mark’s recollection of where the lights had been placed. So we had to rough in the lighting without all the data that we normally get, and it took a little while to wiggle the lights and textures into position until they looked right.”

Because the robot’s head was a metal object, the Synthespians team used mental images mental ray for rendering, which enabled them to get convincing reflections and refractions of light. The CG was finally composited with the plate photography using Shake.

This scene represented a moment when we see a striking difference between a surrogate and real humans, but the 220 shots Synthespians created for the film challenged the effects house to create virtual humans in a variety of ways. Kleiser jokes that there might be a business opportunity using CG to improve the on-screen appearance of aging actors. “We started this company to focus on the human figure and face, and do computer generated replications of that,” he says. “But with what we learned from Surrogates, Synthespians could probably set up a whole company in L.A. just to extend the roles that actors can play.”

Credit Roll
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Director of Photography: Oliver Wood
Visual Effects Supervisor/Concept Artist: Mark Stetson; For Synthespian Studios:
Visual Effects Supervisors: Jeff Kleiser, Jeffrey Kalmus
CG Supervisor: Brian Emerson
Compositor: Eric Deinzer; Matchmove Artists: Alex Tirasongkran, Jessica Hee; Concept Artist: Diana Walczak
R&D Artist – Travis Pinsonnault
Visual Effects Co-producer: Chris Holmes; Digital Intermediate: Company 3

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Lining up for Ricky

It’s true, many actors wanted a role in Gervais’s ‘Invention of Lying’

Ricky Gervais and Rob Lowe

By Matthew Gilbert
Boston Globe Staff
September 27, 2009

ANDOVER – Known for playing puffed-up guys in need of verbal Imodium, British comic Ricky Gervais is down-to-earth when the cameras are off. “The Invention of Lying’’ is his first directing gig, and he is also the star; but on the movie set, in a suburban neighborhood here last spring, he was a model of no-nonsense likability. There wasn’t a single delusion of grandeur in sight, like those that plagued his most famous character, the boorish David Brent from “The Office.’’

Rob Lowe, one of the stars of “The Invention of Lying,’’ which opens Friday, couldn’t say enough in favor of Gervais during the filming. “Ricky has a distinct philosophy on how he wants to shoot. It’s quick, it’s short. He’s got some of the best people in the world who just knock the ball out of the park. No one’s out there finding their character or struggling.’’

Jennifer Garner, also in the cast, concurred: “Ricky keeps the energy really light. You never know what to expect.’’

“Ricky is at that place in his life right now where he’s literally where Woody Allen was right before he made ‘Annie Hall,’ ’’ Lowe added. “Everybody wanted to be on this movie. Everybody is on this movie.’’

Indeed, in addition to Lowe and Garner, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, and Louis C.K. showed up to work with Gervais on the black comedy. That’s a little like a summit of contemporary humor. About a man who ushers untruth into a world where people can only tell the truth, “The Invention of Lying’’ was co-written by Gervais and his co-director, Matthew Robinson.

During a lunch break, Gervais relaxed in his trailer, wearing the silk-pajama costume that earlier inspired Lowe to call him “Hef’’ between takes. He was not “on,’’ as he tends to be during his much-loved awards-show presentations or his talk appearances on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.’’ Rather than playing the press’s “chubby funster,’’ a phrase he has bemoaned in his stand-up act, Gervais seemed more like a Zen funster. Indeed, he claimed rather convincingly not to care much about whether “The Invention of Lying,’’ or any of his work, rakes in money.

“I never worry about whether it’s a hit or not,’’ he said. “I honestly can say I’d rather know something was good but wasn’t a success than the other way around.’’

Of course, the dark side has come calling for Gervais, ever since his 2001 “Office’’ was celebrated as groundbreaking. Across the decade, he has been showered with Emmy kudos, not only for “The Office,’’ but for his follow-up series “Extras’’ and for executive producing the 2005 American version of “The Office’’ starring Steve Carell.

But Gervais has turned down roles in a “Pirates of the Caribbean’’ movie and “Ocean’s Twelve,’’ and he is consistently wary of the mainstream. “I want more people to hate ‘The Office’ than like it,’’ he said. “Otherwise, you’re doing something wrong.’’

He shared one of his favorite stories, in which David Bowie was touring with his popular “Let’s Dance’’ album: “Bowie looked out at the audience in a stadium, he said, and he saw Phil Collins fans. I like Phil Collins, he’s a lovely man, but I don’t want Phil Collins fans. I don’t want the comedy equivalent.’’

Gervais said that while making “The Office,’’ he had no idea it would become an international sensation. “I knew it was good,’’ he said. “I got an adrenaline rush every day. I knew I was doing something different. I knew it would be some people’s favorite thing of all time. I didn’t care how many.

“I couldn’t be prouder of ‘The Office’ if it had won no awards and been canceled. To me, the point of something as lowly as a TV sitcom is to make a connection. To me it’s the size of the connection with each individual person rather than how many people it connects with.’’

Gervais’s acting and his writing style are so filled with natural pauses and awkward asides, you might not think he’s a serious student of the art of comedy. But he thinks long and hard about his approach, and he talked reverentially about Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, as well as about his friend Christopher Guest, who has a cameo in “The Invention of Lying.’’

“Christopher Guest is the most influential person on my performances – doing ridiculously funny things naturalistically. Laurel and Hardy started it, and he’s as big a fan of them as I am. We want to hug Stan and Ollie.’’

Gervais actually managed to place all his characters on a Laurel and Hardy scale. David Brent in “The Office,’’ he says, was a Stan – “he was a buffoon, and he was surrounded with other Stans. There was only one Ollie – Tim [the British version of our Jim].’’ Andy Millman on “Extras’’ was an Ollie in a world of Stans. And Mark in “The Invention of Lying’’ is a blend of both, he says: “He starts off as a bit of a loser, an Ollie, and he finds himself in situations where he is the Stan.’’

In the world of “Invention,’’ people – including politicians – are only able to speak the truth. Mark is a down-on-his-luck guy who magically discovers how to lie, and parlays his new talent into fame and fortune. But can he fib his way into the heart of Garner’s Anna?

As a director, Gervais is bent on doing things his way, even refusing to take producers’ notes. “I don’t care if I’m wrong,’’ he said. “You’ve only got your instincts. When I start doubting and I think someone else is right, and their idea is better than mine, then I’m not funny anymore. A good analogy for why I do everything myself is buying an airplane kit and then getting someone else to make it for you. Where’s the fun in that? They might do a better job than me, but the fun is building it.’’

Asked about his penchant for working with partners – Stephen Merchant on “The Office’’ and “Extras’’ and now Robinson on “The Invention of Lying,’’ Gervais said, “It’s not that I prefer it. It’s fun. If they’re like-minded, two heads are better than one.’’ Then he added, in a jokey voice, “If I get my own way.’’

If, as Lowe suggested, Gervais is like Woody Allen, then maybe we should expect him to start pursuing “Interiors’’-like dramas? “I never want to leave comedy behind,’’ he said. “I like using comedy as a Trojan horse. I can make it sneak up on people. And I can make people like someone enough to feel for them more than if it started serious.

“All your best friends, you start off by having a laugh and then you say, ‘I’m sorry to hear about your mother.’ That’s when they’re a friend. Not when they just joke for three years.’’

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.

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Tax credit critic: Voters are “uninformed people”

Pols & Politics: Hollywood or Holly-wouldn’t?

By Dave Wedge
Boston Herald
September 27, 2009

It seems state Rep. Matthew Patrick isn’t a huge fan of the state’s booming movie biz.

The Falmouth Democrat lashed out in a mass e-mail this week after the film industry’s biggest cheerleader, Rep. Brian Wallace (D-S. Boston), sent out a message trumpeting a poll that showed 64 percent of Bay Staters think tax breaks for movie producers are good for the economy.

“Sorry to rain on this parade of celebrities, but if this was a sampling of the public, it is a sampling of people’s opinions who, in all likelihood, have no way of knowing the facts on this issue,” Patrick sniped. “Therefore the survey is meaningless. Actually, it is worse than meaningless, because (it) attempts to misinform. It is not based on real data.”

Continuing his e-tirade, which was sent to every State House staffer, Patrick said, “Legislators have a responsibility to find out the facts, deliberate and then vote based on the facts, not on opinions of uninformed people.”

Guess he won’t be getting a part in that Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz flick everyone is talking about.

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Bridgewater watched lights, camera, and explosive action

By Hannah McBride and Noah Bierman
Boston Globe
September 27, 2009

Anyone who was awake near dawn in Bridgewater yesterday may have noticed a boom, followed by a giant shooting fireball over one of the town’s cornfields. Not to worry. The dismantled 727 aircraft had not crashed or blown up, despite the 200-foot-tall mushroom cloud that rose above it.

Hollywood had come to town and choreographed one of those elaborate scenes action-adventure fans have come to expect. “It was an amazing fireball in the sky, very controlled situation. At no point was any of the public in jeopardy,’’ said Lieutenant Bob Mancinelli, of the Bridgewater Fire Department.

Members of the public who wanted to catch a glimpse were kept far away, he said. Mancinelli and at least 50 other public safety professionals from local and neighboring departments stayed up all night for the spectacle, joining hundreds of film crew, who were working on the movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

Officials with 20th Century Fox are calling the movie “Wichita,’’ an “action comedy’’ scheduled for release next summer. Entertainment magazine Variety said Cruise plays “a secret agent who pops in and out of the life of a single woman.’’

Elizabeth Boutilier said she nabbed a spot in her neighbors’ backyard on sleepy Curve Street, where they had started two bonfires. Boutilier, 17, had dozed off, curled up in a chair with a blanket, when the fireball exploded.

“As soon as I heard it, I was up in a flash,’’ she said. The detonation was so big, “it was the only thing you could focus on.’’

She said about 50 people milled around waiting for the explosion, which was pushed back several times as the night wore on. A crew member was updating the crowd with instructions from the set via walkie-talkie.

“He would say, ‘Rolling,’ and we had to be completely silent,’’ she said. “Then he would say, ‘Cut!’ and we could talk again.’’

Christine Sprague, another Curve Street resident who could see the movie scene from her backyard, said her family camped out from midnight until around 5 a.m. when the explosion was set off.’’

“You’re sitting there and you’re covered in blankets. You’re waiting an awful long time,’’ she said. “And then all of a sudden you heard, ‘3. . . 2. . .’ – I’m still getting goose bumps – it was ‘3. . . 2. . . BOOM!’ And that was it.’’

Sprague said the free entertainment gave the gathering a festive atmosphere, with children playing and dancing.
“It was fun, we were laughing hysterically,’’ she said. “You get caught up in the moment.’’

Sprague, her husband, and two sons, 13 and 16, stuck around until the sun came up, said “good night’’ to the neighbors, and retired inside to catch a few hours of sleep. “It was definitely worth waiting for,’’ she said.

Timed pyrotechnics kept the flames in parts of the faux plane smoldering after the initial fire, giving it a realistic appearance. Even professionals like Mancinelli and his friends in the department were impressed with the realism.

“I hope to God that we never have to witness or respond to anything of the magnitude of this,’’ he said.

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Lights, camera, boom!

Hard-core Hollywood fans catch action at movie-set blast

By Lauren Carter
Boston Herald
September 27, 2009

BRIDGEWATER – Yesterday morning’s staged aircraft explosion here attracted its share of eager would-be spectators hoping for a show of Hollywood magic.

But the stargazers who hung around long enough to see a broken 727 fuselage go up in flames at 5:30 a.m. were a die-hard few.

Dozens of locals set up camp near Curve Street, where Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were filming part of their new movie “The Untitled Wichita Project.”

A “Curve Street Residents Only” sign and detail officers kept wannabe onlookers out of the filming area, a 263-acre farm. Said Kevin Chiocca, a retired Bridgewater police lieutenant: “We’re just here to see that the well-meaning curiosity-seekers don’t interfere with the production.”

Chiocca said several had been arrested for trespassing by midnight. Those who opted not to go to jail congregated at lookout spots on Auburn and Summer streets.

Carol Blackden, 52, of Bridgewater, said she’d been hanging around all week in hopes of reliving her days as an extra on such locally shot movies as “Witches of Eastwick.”

“Mercury is in retrograde right now, and usually you want to recapture the past,” said Blackden, a former Navy photojournalist and now a fortune teller. “I’m trying to go down memory lane and see if I can recapture my youth.”
It would be a long stretch of idle staring. By 4 a.m., many took to beeping horns, flashing lights and yelling, “Start the fire!”

By 4:30 a.m., 18-year-old Tony Lopez of Raynham gave up, calling the experience “cold and disappointing.” His friend Mike Moynahan, 17, of Bridgewater, hung on until 5:20 a.m. “I figured it’d be something fun, but it was a very long experience of nothing,” he said.

Just 10 minutes later, the few bystanders with star-powered stamina were jarred out of semiconsciousness with a glowing fireball and thunderclap followed by a mushroom cloud of smoke, all highly visible from a field off Summer Street.

“Awesome,” said John Falvey, 39, of West Bridgewater, who had just gotten off work as a trucker. “I expected it to be more of a cheesy gasoline fireball. It was a legitimate explosion. Very intense.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1200288

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NECN: Hollywood comes to Bridgewater – Sept 09

September 25, 2009 (NECN: John Moroney, Bridgewater, Mass.) – Taking movie making to new heights in Massachusetts. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are shooting a film in Bridgewater.

Tonight, a little Hollywood magic will light up the night sky.

Curve Street in Bridgewater is closed as Hollywood turns a very large cornfield into a movie set. On the corn field is a Boeing 727 that is set to blown up after midnight.

NECN’s John Moroney has more on the film, and the economic impact to the surrounding towns.

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Stoughton, Brockton businessmen go Hollywood

by Vicki-Ann Downing
BROCKTON ENTERPRISE
September 25, 2009

It isn’t just a Bridgewater cornfield that’s been transformed for the new movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

A garage in Chelsea, an elderly housing complex in Boston and a kiosk in Woburn have been made over as well, thanks to businessmen Michael Cohen of Stoughton and Steve Fishman of Brockton. Cohen, 48, owner of Signs by J in Dorchester, and Fishman, 59, owner of Capeway Aluminum in Brockton, are teaming up to make the exterior of the Chelsea Department of Public Works garage look like a garage from the 1960s.

The moviemakers wanted forest green aluminum awnings with an ivory stripe to cover seven windows and a door at the garage. Fishman ordered the material from a supplier in Ohio, assembled the awnings at his company in Brockton, then boxed them for shipping to the site, where filming is expected to take place next week.

“We’ll have to watch the movie to see if the awnings are in there,” said Fishman, whose family business, founded in 1963, has seven full-time employees.

Fishman heard about the movie job through Cohen, whose company, on Tenean Street in Dorchester, has supplied awnings and signs for other films, including “The Departed” and “The Town,” both filmed in Boston, and “The Perfect Storm” in Gloucester.

In fact, Signs by J has been transforming storefronts for movies and commercials since 1978, when Cohen’s father-in-law owned the company and did the work for “The Brinks Job,” said Cohen.

“They’re good little jobs. It starts to add up quick,” said Cohen. “They give us a design, we do field measurements and manufacture the awnings.”

On Monday, movie crews were on Harrison Avenue in Boston to film a street scene for the Cruise-Diaz movie, Cohen said. Signs by J made an elderly housing complex look like a French bistro for that one and changed the face of another restaurant across the street.

Cohen said he was amazed at how quickly the area ca me alive with spectators eager to get a glimpse of the filming. Signs by J also manufactured a coffee kiosk for the movie’s set in Woburn.

The company, which Cohen owns with his brother-in-law, Ed Jagiello of Lakeville, has eight full-time employees and has been in business for 46 years. Cohen charged $8,000 for the Harrison Avenue work and $4,000 for the kiosk. Fishman said the aluminum awnings for the Chelsea garage cost $4,000 to buy and install.

“It’s unexpected work that comes through your door,” said Cohen. “They know I can get it done for them and that’s why they keep coming to me. I didn’t have the material they wanted for the garage, so I contacted Steve and he got it. I get the job done and they keep coming back.”

Vicki-Ann Downing can be reached at vdowning@enterprisenews.com.

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Studio project secures big loan

$550m deal will aid construction on Plymouth site

By Christine Legere
Boston Globe
September 25, 2009

PLYMOUTH – A team of California film executives who came to Plymouth two years ago with a plan to build the first full-fledged production studio on the East Coast announced yesterday that they have secured a $550 million loan to begin construction on Plymouth Rock Studios later this year.

Plymouth Rock Studios said Prosperity International LLC, an Orlando-based firm, has agreed to be the direct lender for the project. “This is a huge private sector vote of confidence for the industry here in Massachusetts,’’ said Nicholas Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

“This project is going to have a dramatic impact in the long run. It turns Massachusetts from a seasonal production state to a full-blown year-round production state. That’s a quantum leap forward.’’

According to a statement from Plymouth Rock, the studio “must provide the lender with acceptable security in the form of a bank instrument issued from a major bank’’ as a condition of the loan.

Prosperity International principal Michael Burgess said yesterday that representatives from his firm and the studio would probably make a joint announcement detailing the financial arrangements in the next week or so. “This is an extremely large project as far as Prosperity is concerned, but the funding will be provided over a period of time,’’ Burgess said.

After they get the money, Plymouth Rock Studios executives say their next step will be to purchase Waverly Oaks Golf Club, the 240-acre target site that carries a price tag of $16.5 million. The deal is set to close in November, about the same time construction on a $50 million access road to the facility will get underway. Studio construction is scheduled to begin in earnest in the spring and the studio’s executives say they are hoping to open for business in spring 2012.

Plymouth Rock has estimated the venture will create more than 2,000 high-income jobs. Plans call for the studio complex to include 14 soundstages, a 10-acre back lot, production and post-production facilities, a theater, and an “amenity village’ that could include a grocery store, pharmacies, and hair salons. Planners will provide space for a major hotel. The facility will allow producers to make movies and television shows, from start to finish, on the site, studio developers say.

“This is a seriously large deal in a terrible economy,’’ said Plymouth Rock’s real estate partner, Bill Wynne , who praised the company officials who came up with the studio plan.

Plymouth Rock has spent about $11 million on engineering studies and plans that were needed to secure local permits, as well as on material required for its 1,000-page environmental impact study. Before construction on the studio can begin, the state must sign off on the environmental impact report, which was submitted Sept. 15.

Wynne said he hopes state environmental officials will agree the company’s proposed measures for protecting the environment are sufficient and approve the report before the end of this year. That might be optimistic because the Eel River Association, a local group, has expressed concern over the proposed wastewater treatment plan. The organization says the discharge of water into the Eel River Watershed could degrade water quality. If the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs agrees with Eel River Watershed advocates, studio officials could be asked to provide more information or to adjust their treatment plan.

While the local Planning Board has already signed off on a so-called master site plan for the project, more specific information on each of its components will be required as building moves forward.

“This whole project is going to come to life in the next month,’’ Wynne said. “We obviously had to focus on the capital. Now that we have access to the money, we can start to implement the visions, goals, and dreams we’ve talked about.’’

Plymouth Rock Studios has had its share of obstacles during the last two years, starting with problems over murky titles on the 1,000 acre Plymouth property it originally targeted. The site was abandoned in summer 2008 in favor of Waverly Oaks.

Plymouth Town Meeting representatives gave the project a crucial endorsement in October 2008, approving property tax breaks as well as a zoning change necessary for studio construction. In June, the state denied $50 million in infrastructure funding, causing a delay. Robert Bliss, spokesman for the state Department of Administration and Finance, noted yesterday that the film industry is already getting “big tax credits’’ for film work done in the state.

Christine Legere can be reached at christinelegere@yahoo.com

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Studio scores $550M loan

Plymouth’s ‘Hollywood East’ to start construction soon

By Thomas Grillo
Boston Herald
September 25, 2009

Plymouth Rock Studios reached a milestone yesterday with a $550 million construction loan for its proposed $1 billion film, television and digital studio campus in Plymouth.

“This brings us much closer to developing the next generation studio in Plymouth,” said Plymouth Rock CEO Earl Lestz in a statement.

William Wynne, president of Plymouth Rock Real Estate Investment, called the loan a “giant step” toward getting construction started in November.

Prosperity International, a Florida-based firm, will serve as the lender.

Wynne dismissed skeptics who questioned the loan, which is coming at a time when few deals of this size have been approved.

“Prosperity has global institutional partners with capital north of $20 billion,” he said. “They’ve been in business for a long time and this type of financing is common in Europe. They looked at the fact that the entertainment business is recession-proof and one of the few growing industries.”

The project has received approval for its master site plan from the Plymouth Planning Board and has obtained a waiver from the secretary of Environmental Affairs to allow for an access road that will serve the studio and a neighboring public school.

But the complex still needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection and from Plymouth voters next month for the access road.

Upon completion in 2012, the complex will feature 14 soundstages and 10 acres of exterior sets.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1199910

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Hollywood action to roll in Bridgewater cornfield

By Jenna Russell
Boston Globe Staff
September 25, 2009

Plane in Bridgewater cornfield

BRIDGEWATER – It might be the sleepiest street in the quietest corner of this low-key town 30 miles south of Boston. But Hollywood came to Curve Street yesterday, setting up camp in a cornfield at the end of a dusty dirt road.

It was high-octane Hollywood, too: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, fake plane wreckage from a fictional jetliner crash, and a staged explosion, set to detonate tonight after midnight, expected to shoot flames and a mushroom cloud of smoke 200 feet into the air.

Needless to say, Chris Sprague, a 13-year-old Curve Street resident, was taking a lot of calls from his friends.
“They want to come and have a sleepover for the next two days,’’ he said.

Given the fat Massachusetts tax incentives that have recently lured a steady stream of Hollywood talent, celebrity sightings in the suburbs have become almost everyday fare: Sandra Bullock’s car is hit by a drunk driver in Gloucester. Adam Sandler chows down at the Hamilton House of Pizza. Martin Scorsese takes over an old mill in Taunton. Add the plans to build a Hollywood East megacomplex in Plymouth, and the day may come when movie crews and starlets don’t warrant a second glance.

In Bridgewater yesterday – at least on Curve Street, where residents lingered in yards and on porches – that day had not yet come. Christine Sprague, Chris’s mother, said she was keeping a close eye on the set through her kitchen window, and planned to stay up past her normal bedtime tonight to take pictures of the fireball slated to light up her backyard.

Elsewhere in the town of 25,000, enthusiasm for the movie shoot was muted by the cinch-tight security around the set and surrounding neighborhood. Streets in the area were closed to all but resident traffic, and police stood sentry, quizzing drivers. There was no place to gather and gawk, and for almost everyone except the Bridgewater firefighters who will help extinguish the staged blaze tonight, no chance of seeing the stars.

Still, some dared to dream.

“If Tom Cruise came and ate here, he’d come back again,’’ boasted an exuberant, red-haired Ronald Ferrone, draping slices of American cheese atop a hot steak sub at his Bedford Street takeout stand, Sonny’s Hot Dog. Two pyrotechnics experts from Los Angeles, in town to work on the movie, had already stopped by for pastrami sandwiches, he said.

Officials with 20th Century Fox have released few details about the movie, an “action comedy’’ scheduled for release next summer and known, mysteriously, as the “Untitled Wichita Project.’’ According to the Hollywood Reporter, its plot follows “a lonely woman whose seemingly harmless blind date turns her life upside down when a superspy takes her on a violent worldwide journey.’’

In recent weeks, the movie’s crew has taken over Gaslight brasserie in the South End and the Worcester Regional Airport, which was reportedly used as a stand-in for the Wichita, Kan., airport, with props including imported copies of that city’s newspaper.

Wichita’s mayor, Carl Brewer, said yesterday that he was doubtful the essence of his city could be captured in Massachusetts. He urged filmmakers to reconsider, and said he would be glad to show them around the real Wichita – the largest city in Kansas with 361,000 people, and the self-styled “aviation capital of the world,’’ where the largest employers are Boeing, Cessna, and Raytheon Aircraft.

“It’s not too late,’’ he said. The mayor’s administrative assistant, Becky Fields, was looking on the bright side.
“At least it’s Boston,’’ she mused. “It could be a whole lot worse. It could be Des Moines, Iowa. We should probably be flattered.’’

A source close to the film production said the reasons for choosing the cornfield in Bridgewater included its size and the maturity of its crop. Cranberry farmer Stan Kravitz, chairman of the Bridgewater Board of Selectmen, said he expects the town to take in as much as $150,000 in exchange for its participation, including $40,000 to compensate the Fire Department, additional payments for police details, and a donation to the town’s senior center, which was used as a base camp away from the set.

Kravitz said he could not recall Bridgewater playing a similar role since shots of Bridgewater state prison were used in a movie about the Boston Strangler. “I’m just enjoying seeing the town have fun,’’ he said. “It could all still end up on the cutting room floor.’’

Jenna Russell can be reached at jrussell@globe.com

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SUFFOLK POLL: Voters support film tax credit by wide margin

Tax credits for movie companies were favored by 64 percent and opposed by 20 percent.

September 24, 2009

The STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE reported yesterday that Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approve of the film tax credit—which, since 2006, has resulted in a dramatic increase in film and television production in the state.

The question (below) was part of a survey of 500 registered voters conducted between September 12th and 15th by Suffolk University and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent. Of those polled, 39 percent were registered Democrats, 15 percent Republicans, and 44 percent independents.

64% of those polled favored the film tax credit, 20% opposed it, and 16% were undecided.

Support for the film tax credit has remained strong, despite the economic downturn. A similar poll, conducted in August of 2008 showed 63% in favor, 22% opposed, and 15% undecided.

Other poll results:

— 38 percent said the state was heading in the right direction and 51 percent said it was on the wrong track;

— 54 percent supported adding a recall vote to allow citizens to remove an elected official for underperformance, with 38 percent against;

— A plan to repeal the recently enacted sales tax hike was supported 59-36;

— A plan to eliminate all tolls was supported by 35 percent and opposed by 60 percent;

— By an 81-17 margin, those polled said they support changing Massachusetts law to allow terminally or seriously ill patients to use, grow and purchase marijuana for medical purposes if they have the approval and are under supervision of their physicians.

Here is the exact language of the film tax credit question:

A recent tax credit for movie companies has resulted in fourteen movies made in Massachusetts in the past twelve months. Proponents say the tax credit is good because it bring jobs and new money into the state. Opponents say that a tax credit for movie companies is bad policy because it costs the state more than it is worth, given other state programs that need revenue.

Which is closer to your view?

N= 500 100%

Tax credit good – added jobs and new money (322) 64%

Tax credit for movie companies is bad policy (100) 20%
because cost is too high

Undecided (74) 15%

Refused (4) 1%

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