June 27, 2009

The misconception of Boston filmmaking that is driving me apeshit

If you live in or near Boston, you certainly know this, and if you don't, it's very possible that you've heard inklings of it. All the prophets are shouting it from the rooftops:


Let me try to break down why that is fucking retarded.

There are two factors contributing to this myth. One is that there will soon be two film studios in Massachusetts. One is in Plymouth and is slated to open next year; there is also a recently announced one that will be built in the relatively nearby town of Weymouth. Where are those towns? IN THE MIDDLE OF BUTT-FUCKING NOWHERE. Weymouth is about a 25-minute drive from Boston; Plymouth is about twice that. You know you're a hopping tourist destination when your biggest attractions are a really small rock and a reenactment village where everyone looks bored (field trips - trust me). So these studios are asking that Hollywood-based productions fly everyone over and dump them in a Pilgrim-themed town with consistently bad weather and little hope of shooting exteriors. Hm. Well, at least you know that your crew and actors won't stay out late exploring the nightlife. The impending opening of these studios causes me to have the following conversation with every single person I know or meet over the age of 30:

Them: Oh, so you just graduated film school, what's your plan?
Me: I'm moving to New York.
Them: Oh cool! But you know, they're opening that big film studio in Plymouth.
Me: Yeah...but putting my dreams on hold for a year and moving to a tiny middle-of-nowhere town for the microscopic chance that I can get one of the jobs that every single entertainment professional in New England will be competing for seems nothing short of INSANE.

The other factor contributing to the myth is the fact that non-studio, location shoots have been happening in the state, such as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Women, The Pink Panther 2, The Departed, and more. Listen, news outlets, I understand. Anytime something happens more than once, you have to declare it a trend or an epidemic to keep people hooked. But calling Massachusetts "The New Hollywood" because of a few shoots breezing through is just ridiculous. Hollywood doesn't just refer to "a place where people happen to make movies," but rather "a place where there is a firmly rooted infrastructure and environment that supports and sustains filmmaking on a regular basis." That is not the case here. Some facts:

1. In Hollywood, it's almost always sunny and warm. That's why they put in there in the first place - Hollywood actually started in New Jersey. If you're shooting a pretty basic movie that doesn't call for snowstorms, why would you gamble on somewhere with such erratic weather?
2. Like I said, the infrastructure doesn't exist here. The resources are extremely limited - there's a handful of casting agencies, approximately three equipment rental houses, etc.
3. These imported productions almost never hire local crew or cast, with the exception of production assistants (i.e. coffee bitches) and extras. Most of the acting professionals I know around here can put in a day or two as "Man #3" or "Angry Inmate," but that's it. It's the same for crew - they pick people they know and trust, not strangers from the other side of the country. Why shouldn't they?

But, despite my pleas of logic and reason, this "New Hollywood" fever continues. The Plymouth studio has even licensed out the famous Hollywood sign to create a garish new one that says "Hollywood East." Aside from being annoying, it makes me sad that this hype is genuinely deluding some people into thinking they can get a big break in Massachusetts. It just isn't true.


DGB said...

You're right, it won't be the new Hollywood cause the movies and shows will still be put together in LA. However, if MA has a good tax incentive for production, increases their facilities, more shows will shoot there. The more that shoots there, the better the crews will become and the less Hollywood will have to bring over a whole crew.

Anonymous said...

Detroit too announced tax breaks and even offered counseling sessions for machinery operators and their ilk to work as technical crew on films.

Does that make it the New New Hollywood then?

And being from India, I loathe the nickname Bollywood for the Indian film industry 'headquartered' in Bombay/Mumbai