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The New Canaan Town Hall property is transformed into a Christmas scene for the filming of the Netflix movie The Noel Diary in New Canaan, Conn. on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
A home on Beal Street is used as a set for the upcoming Netflix movie “The Good Nurse” in Stamfordon Friday.
Film crew at the shooting of the Netflix movie “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” a Stephen King adaptation, in South Norwalk’s Washington Street on Oct. 27, 2021.
Shooting of the Netflix film “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” a Stephen King adaptation, in South Norwalk’s Washington Street on Oct. 27, 2021.
Washington Street was partially closed for the shooting of the Netflix film “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” a Stephen King adaptation, in South Norwalk on Oct. 27, 2021.
From independent features to streaming staples, filmmakers have flocked to Connecticut in recent years to actualize their vision. Recent productions to have come through the state include Netflix’s “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” “The Good Nurse” starring Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain, “The Noel Diary,” the Kelsey Grammer-led “The 12 Days of Christmas Eve” and “Candlewood,” which is based on the urban legends surrounding the area of New Milford.
Though the question still remains: What keeps filmmakers coming back to Connecticut?
The answer lies in the state’s enticing tax credits as well as an central location that makes is accessible to most major Northeast cities, according to filmmakers who have recently shot in the state.
It’s no secret among filmmakers that they enjoy their time in Connecticut. In a previous interview with Stephen King’s “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” director John Lee Hancock, the director offered praise about working in the state, adding that in finding the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk, he was able to find optimal filming locations around it that fit the feel of the movie. “We really enjoyed our time there,” Hancock said. “There were a lot of locations within a short drive.”
“When I remember going into Lockwood [Mathews Mansion] and walking around,…there was one particular study that was probably a little too small but it had a conservatory behind it with plants and I just thought, ‘This is it. Mr. Harrigan will sit here and this will be the backdrop,’” Hancock said. “If you look at it at certain times of the day, with the light on it, it’s a little creepy.”
Actor Jessica Chastain exits the home used as a set for the upcoming Netfix movie ‘The Good Nurse’ in Stamford, Conn., on Friday April 23, 2021. Chastain is using the umbrella to protect her hair between takes.
The ability to transform Connecticut locations into either a winter wonderland or a torturous nightmare is what brings Hallmark and horror movies into the state as well. Greg Nutcher, a Connecticut actor and one-time location manager for several Hallmark and Lifetime movies, reiterated that Connecticut is an optimal place for filmmakers to build their vision.
“Any Hallmark Christmas movie can be filmed in Connecticut, and can be made to look like pretty much anywhere in the country,” Nutcher said in a previous interview, adding that the state’s diverse scenery and tax incentives are reasons why filmmakers keep coming to Connecticut.
“Connecticut provides a beautiful look for our films and we have had amazing experiences in the past,” said Michelle Vicary, the EVP of Programming & Network Program Publicity for Hallmark Channel, in a previous interview with Hearst Connecticut.
Rounding out the state’s appeal to filmmakers is its central location to major metropolitan areas such as the New York and Boston areas.
“We actually share our film crew workforce with New York, and the union crews have a three-state jurisdiction: Connecticut, New York and New Jersey,” said George Norfleet, director of Connecticut’s Office of Film, TV & Digital Media, in a previous interview with Hearst Connecticut. “So it doesn’t hurt at all to be next to New York, and certainly when you can jump on the train in Grand Central Station and be in Stamford in 40 minutes, it makes shooting in that area of the state extremely appealing.”
Connecticut actor Greg Nutcher.
Connecticut offers competitive tax credits for productions that take place in Connecticut. Productions with budgets between $100,000an $500,000 can expect potential 10 percent tax credit while expenses between $500,000 and $1,000,000 can net a potential 15 percent tax credit, according to the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. Productions over $1,000,000 can expect a 30 percent tax credit.
The eligibility to receive those tax credits hinges of three factors: at least 50 percent of the principal photography days are done within the state, at least 50 percent of post-production costs are expended in the state or the expenditure of at least $1 million is spent in the state during post-production.
Animation productions are similarly structured in terms of tax credits. However, to receive the tax credit, the animated production must have a studio located within the state and “employ at least 200 full-time employees within the state.”
Tents are set up in the parking lot and large trucks line the street where “The Good Nurse” is being filmed in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, April 15, 2021.
Though production like movies, TV series and video games all qualify for the tax credit, some forms of media that are not eligible for the credit are informercials, live programming and “any production featuring current events, sporting events or an awards show or other gala event.”
An eligibility application must be filled out no later than 90 days after the production’s first eligible expenditure in the state, and the application must include information such as a detailed production budget, script, application form and a “Certificate of Legal Existence from the State of Connecticut Secretary of State.”
There are also a number of rules pertaining to the use of the tax credit voucher, including the stipulation that the studio “must file a final tax credit voucher application within 90 days of the end of the company’s annual fiscal period or 90 days of the last qualified production expense.”
“That is extremely competitive compared to what New York and New Jersey offer in terms of their [tax credit] for film, television and digital media production,” said Norfleet. “But it doesn’t do you any good to have great incentives if you can’t get the right look for your production. We offer them both, and we’re happy to be able to do that.
Andrew DaRosa works for the digital team at Hearst Connecticut Media, both producing online content as well as maintaining homepages.
Andrew is an award-winning journalist and holds a degree in digital journalism from Fairfield University.
When he’s not writing, he is spending time with his dogs or going to see live music.