Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative

Economic Impact of Making Films in the Berkshires

By: - Jun 05, 2015

The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) has released an economic impact study to examine the effects of a film shoot on the economy of rural communities. The study, “When Movie Making Comes to Town: An Economic Impact Analysis and Strategies for Development” was authored by Rick Feldman of InCommN, LLC, who was one of the developers of IMPLAN, a widely used economic impact analysis software program. 

According to BFMC’s Executive Director, Diane Pearlman, “Up until now, all of the film studies have focused on the entire State of Massachusetts. Although worthwhile in their findings, we wanted to examine how the film industry can affect a region, especially western MA where rural communities are the predominant demographic.

The study was conclusive that the film and media industry can have quite a positive effect on a region. For every dollar spent by a production, 63 cents goes into the local community.  “So when a film like The Judge,” which starred Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, shot in Shelburne Falls and surrounding towns in Franklin County, that’s $630,000 for every million dollars the studio spent,” comments Pearlman, “That’s a huge impact.” 

The study was generously funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Adams Arts Program. “The MCC is pleased to support BFMC’s efforts to better understand the impact of film production on a local economy,” said Meri Jenkins, who manages the Adams Program. “We hope the information can inform the larger debate about how best to foster the growth of our creative sector.”

The purpose of the study was to make the business community of the region aware of the potential fiscal impact of the film and media industry in western, MA. The findings of the study also conclude that this is an industry that could possibly attract and retain young people in the region, a vital concern at the moment. 

Although not part of this study, there is an implication to the positive impact that filming can have on the local tourism industry. According to Mary Vilbon, Director of the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association, there has been an increase in inquiries from people wanting to visit the town where The Judge was filmed - many asking if the town is real.  “It would be interesting to look at the direct relationship between a film shoot and tourism,” says Pearlman,” People love to visit where films have been shot. Perhaps that should be the focus for our next study.”

The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative creates educational, workforce and production opportunities in the film and media industry as an economic initiative for the Berkshire region of western Massachusetts. The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. For further information: