A group of Hollywood-based investors has made it official: they plan to build a $300 million state-of-the-art movie making complex at the old South Weymouth Naval Air Station. But first, they want the state to give them more tax breaks.
By JACK ENCARNACAO
The Patriot Ledger
Agroup of Hollywood investors say they will be ready to break ground in July on a multimillion dollar movie and television production complex at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.
International Studio Group, a band of former Hollywood producers, said redevelopment of the base is far enough along that the company can commit to building a a $250 million to $300 million complex called SouthField Studios.
But first, they say, the Legislature must approve a bill that would classify filmmaking as a manufacturing industry and qualify it for new tax credits.
“Our shovels are poised, and we’re ready to go as soon as the governor signs the bill,” Robert Papazian, a veteran producer whose credits include the HBO series “Rome,” said in a statement.
If everything goes smoothly, construction on the complex could start as early as July, Rep. Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy, said. Mariano is sponsoring the tax credit bill. Proponents say the studio would create 4,000 to 5,000 jobs.
The 30-acre studio complex would include 10 to 15 sound stages, a motion-capture stage, office space, sets designed to look like life-size streets, post-production facilities and an interactive tour. The tour would give tourists and local residents an insider’s look into movie and television production.
Allan Kassirer, a former television producer and attorney for the studio group, said the team has been waiting for certain pieces to fall into place before making a commitment to build in Weymouth. Those include the closing of a deal between the Navy and the Tri-Town Redevelopment Corp. to acquire all the base property and securing state financing for construction of a parkway through the property.
Kassirer said the group is confident that Mariano’s bill for new tax credits will be approved.
“All of the things that were necessary to happen at the property we’re comfortable with,” Kassirer said. “It’s a question of time.”
Kassirer said the complex would be modeled after Fox Studios in Los Angeles. A range of amenities for production crews, including dry cleaners, restaurants and a mill for set construction, would be built on site.
“If you’ve never been on a studio, it’s hard to imagine,” he said.
International Studio Group has significant experience in production and studio development.
As a team, Papazian and fellow producer James Hirsch won Emmy awards for their NBC production of “Inherit the Wind” and most recently produced the HBO miniseries “Rome.” The pair also built and operated Ray-Art Studios, which housed many of Hollywood’s leading producers, studios and networks. They also owned and operated the Sunset-Gower Studios in Los Angeles.
The other partners are Lee Tomlinson, a former principal in Culver Studios where “Gone With the Wind” was shot, and Jack McDaniel, a designer and developer for Universal Studios Florida.
Kassirer, a long-time entertainment lawyer and entertainment manager, has produced several films including “North Shore Fish,” which was written by Massachusetts native Israel Horovitz.
Jack Encarnacao is at firstname.lastname@example.org.