Full transcript of the story, from www.wcax.com:
Burlington, Vermont – August 20, 2007
Over the years, a handful of Hollywood studios have made the Green Mountains stars on the silver screen. Joe Bookchin says, “When all is said and done, Vermont has a very unique brand, and it really draws people in.”
Bookchin is a Vermont native. He will work to draw in more movie production as the new head of the Vermont Film Commission, replacing an interim director. Bookchin grew Burlington College’s film program, and has worked at Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers in Los Angeles. Bookchin explains, “One Hollywood production, it’s immeasurable what it does for tourism.”
Those crews spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions on location shoots. But landing them is competitive. Vermont offers some tax incentives, including breaks on the hotel stays longer than a month. The state also waives sales tax on props and other purchases used directly for movie-making.
And in what’s known as the “Don Johnson Deal,” after the actor complained he was overtaxed here, performers are promised they won’t have to pay income tax higher than they’d pay in their home state, which can be none. Still, industry insiders say Vermont’s incentives are as out-of-date as silent film. But Bookchin cautions, “You want to make sure it works for everyone. That you’re not going to give the store away.”
Bookchin plans to talk with lawmakers about new, innovative tax breaks, but he wouldn’t say when. Hollywood is actually not his only priority. He’s looking to strengthen Vermont’s home-grown movie-makers.
Movie-makers like Jayson Argento. The Colchester native will debut his first feature movie, a thriller called Finding Providence September first at the Essex Cinemas. Argento made it in his free time for just $1300.
The director says, “Every day you go through life and things are out of control and when you make a movie, and you’re in the editing room, you’re in control. And you made the world the way you wanted to make it, assuming the budget let it happen.”
The Jayson Argentos of the world can work in more than just movies. They produce ads, and original entertainment for websites. The Film Commission says with more high-speed internet access, those fields are growing here. Job creation can help reverse “brain drain.”
Bookchin says, “You don’t have to be in big urban centers to make movies anymore.”
In this leading role, Bookchin will help Vermont navigate the changing media landscape, and find ways to cash in.
The new director of the film commission starts his job September 24th. Despite competition from several other states and countries, Bookchin is adamant that the scenery Hollywood directors can get here cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
Jack Thurston – WCAX News