Study: Film Tax Created Thousands of Jobs, Millions in Economic Output

A new report looks at the impact of the film tax incentive in Massachusetts since 2006.

Boston—and Massachusetts as a whole—have become a hotbed for making everything from blockbuster films to independent movies, and the Motion Picture Association of America is giving the Bay State a big incentive to keep the cameras rolling.

In findings from a report highlighting the beneficial economic impact of the Massachusetts Film Tax Program released by the association this week, officials said the state generated $375 million in total economic output through the $38 million in tax incentives awarded to the film industry in 2011, or around $10 in local spending for every $1 awarded to moviemakers through the program.

The study claimed that from all of the Jennifer Lawrence sightings, the Ben Affleck appearances, and the Bradley Cooper cameos, the tax breaks that brought the stars to the state led to the creation of 2,220 full-time equivalent jobs across all industries in Massachusetts in 2011.

“[The] study reconfirms that incentivizing productions creates jobs and generates enormous economic return for local and state economies,” said MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd. “Massachusetts is the latest example of a state that is benefiting tremendously from a thriving local film industry. The steady stream of Massachusetts productions means more jobs for entertainment industry workers.”

The study, titled “Economic Impacts of the Massachusetts Film Tax Incentive Program,” found that since the tax breaks came to the state in 2006, total production employment has increased by 46-percent, from 1,630 jobs in 2006 to 2,380 jobs in five years later.

The study also noted that, “upon its completion, the construction of New England Studios will have supported 440 full-time equivalent jobs across all industries, generating $35.6 million in personal income and $62.3 in economic output for the Commonwealth.”

In a report released by the state’s Department of Revenue in March, which highlighted the tax incentive program, officials said “not all production spending benefits the Massachusetts economy” or its residents, however, and some spending “‘leaks’ out of the Commonwealth’s economy if spent on imports of goods or services, or employment of non-residents,” the report said.

Information in the DOR’s findings showed that less than 40 percent of the millions spent in the state actually went back to local filmmakers and businesses, and Hollywood honchos made the most gains. The findings came out two months after Governor Deval Patrick recommended a capped budget for the incentives, which he called “inflated bonuses” given to top brass actors.

One thing the report failed to recognize, however, was the “impact of potential increased economic activity” resulting from “greater exposure of the Commonwealth through films and other productions that are made in Massachusetts,” along with the fact that having a few famous faces floating around the city for a few months “might be tantamount to advertising.”