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‘If this incentive ends, I will have to move’: Film industry workers speak out against proposed changes to tax credit

“I’m very nervous and having that job insecurity is really taxing financially and emotionally.”

A Checker Taxi passes through the set while filming a scene for The Tender Bar at the South End Buttery, Boston, MA on March 10. Craig F. Walker/Globe staff

The state Senate wants to change the film tax credit, but those who work in the industry say that altering some of its provisions would destroy local jobs, and force them to pack up and move.

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In April, the state House of Representatives voted to drop the tax credit’s sunset date – effectively making it permanent – and not change any of its terms. The state Senate wants to make it so that in order to receive tax credits, a company would have to spend at least 75 percent of its filming budget (or do 75 percent or more of its photography) in Massachusetts, not allow credits to be transferred, and limit salaries eligible for the credit to $1 million or less, according to State House News Service.

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“Too much of the money, the tax credits and the benefits of the tax credit, go to out-of-state individuals and out-of-state companies,” state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who chairs the ways and means committee, said.

However, those who work in the industry say that this is far from the case.

“People keep talking about the millionaires, but it’s not — most of these people are working-class people,” actress Andrea Lyman, who lives in Newton, said during a press conference Wednesday. “Working-class people earning a living, working class to middle class, and we’re all earning a living. And if that living goes away … people can’t buy their houses, people have to move, I won’t have my health insurance. It just makes a huge difference.”

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Lyman also lives with her 92-year-old mother, she said, and while she says her mom is healthy, she still needs help.

“And so I don’t want to have to move to L.A. or New York, which I did before the film tax incentive,” she said. “I was working out of New York and L.A., and now I’ve been here for quite some time and been working on a lot of different projects, and when I say I’m working, I’m not working alone. There’s thousands of people working on all of these projects with me.”

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Lyman was one of a handful of those who work in the industry and are based in Massachusetts that spoke up in support of the tax credit. Those who spoke weren’t just actors or actresses, but propmakers and those who work in other facets of the industry.

Alison Katinger works in props and set dressing, and lives in Salem. She grew up in Massachusetts, and “begrudgingly” moved to Los Angeles earlier in her career to pursue a career in the film industry. She was in LA for just over a year when the tax credit passed, and some work began to shift to her home state.

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Katinger said she moved back, “which was great because my entire family was here,” and she bought her first home.

But all of that could vanish without the tax credit as it stands now.

“With the insecurity that has been uprooted in our industry it’s been really hard,” she said. “I’m very nervous and having that job insecurity is really taxing financially and emotionally.”

She said she would be forced to move and sell her home.

“Nobody wants that insecurity,” Katinger said. “I can’t really move forward in life. I can’t make future plans because of the insecurity with what’s going on.”

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She urged people to pay attention to the credits in a film shot in Massachusetts, and see how many names there are.

“Those people are not Hollywood people, those are local people,” Katinger said. “Those are people from Massachusetts. Those are people who pay their bills, and who feed their families, and who buy homes with the money that they make on those movies. I’m one of them. Those people will all lose their jobs.”

Actor Rafael Silva, a Malden native, said the tax incentive program is less about taxes and money, and more about people and jobs.

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“If this incentive ends, I will have to move,” he said. “I will have to go somewhere else, along with all of my colleagues here. We don’t want to move away because our families are here. Our state has created an industry right here, and so let’s not destroy that. Let’s continue to move forward. If we grew up here and we went to school here, we want to continue to live here.”

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