New England needs a vitamin injection," says David Kirkpatrick, founder of Plymouth Rock Studios, a new digital film and television studio complex to be built in Massachusetts, the most populous state in the north-eastern region of the US.
And while the 25% Massachusetts tax credit for film-makers that was introduced in 2007 may be the prescription, Kirkpatrick is administering the medicine.
Plymouth Rock Studios is slated to open in Plymouth - the historic town 40 miles south of Boston that marks the landing site of the Mayflower Pilgrims - in September 2010. The development is spearheaded by Kirkpatrick, former president of Paramount Pictures, and Earl Lestz, former president of Paramount Studio Groups. The project will include 14 sound stages spread across 240 acres, a 10-acre backlot, production offices, post-production facilities, a theatre and an amenity village.
"I was really drawn to this idea of creating a movie complex here because of two reasons - the diversity of the landscape and the 25% tax incentive, which is the real driver of economics," says Kirkpatrick. "There's diversity in Massachusetts that you can't find in Los Angeles - lakes, oceans, metro America in Boston, suburban America and even farmlands.
"Also, if you look at it from a market standpoint, there are no sound stages here yet in the state, while there are 350 in Los Angeles County. So if we're going to start making movies in this state, we're going to need sound stages."
Movie production in Massachusetts is already on the up. In 2005, only one feature film was produced in the state, while two were produced in 2006, when a limited tax incentive was offered. But in 2007, the number leapt to eight and 2008 has seen a slate of 10 films.
Plymouth Rock Studios, which Kirkpatrick refers to as an "incubator" of ideas he has for the development project, recently made a deal with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce giving the project exclusive rights to promote the Hollywood sign and use the name Hollywood East.
Every aspect of the $500m project, which is financed by union pension funds, will be "earth friendly", says Kirkpatrick. The studio lot and sound stages will be built on an old golf course, sound stages will feature environmentally friendly roofs, and all materials are by and large reused. Even old barns and churches from neighboring states will be excavated and shipped to the area to provide bungalows for the artists.
"It is an attempt to be very conscious of bringing a low-impact on the earth," he says. "We want Hollywood East to be about being green, being responsible in story telling and creating a different vibe by encapsulating all of the beauty of New England. Plymouth is America's hometown and we want to improve it and provide it with a new economic and cultural stimulus without hurting its legacy."
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