Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

The other night, the honey and I were watching a show. It was set here in Maine, and I have to admit they had done a decent job of making it look like they were actually here. Right sort of beach, working pier, proper looking boats,  not a “Murder She Wrote”-style  California cliff in sight. Well done.

In fact, it was so well done that I reached for my phone, curiosity piqued. I ran a quick search to find where the show had actually been filmed because, no matter how much it looked like here, obviously it was not. Or at least, I knew it was highly unlikely.

It wasn’t. The show was filmed across the border, up in Newfoundland, which explains the visual similarities.

It got me thinking, though, why aren’t more shows filmed in Maine?

Why indeed. After all, a lot of plotlines are set here. Maine offers up a lot of history, a certain emotional aesthetic and plenty of quirky characters (i.e. us). We are natural storytellers, and the professional ones use that to instantly set a mood. We are fertile soil for a good tale. Yet those same tales wind up being actually told elsewhere.

Beyond the artistic, films mean revenue. Crews and actors need to be fed and housed, two things we happen to be particularly great at, and local businesses reap the benefits.


A long time back, someone somewhere told me there were laws prohibiting filming on site in Maine. Not so. According to Maine Film Office, “The State of Maine does not require productions to have a general filming permit to work in Maine.”

This should have been obvious at the time because, after all, there have been movies made here. Just not a lot. Yet.

Picture Maine, a group of working artists, directors, film fans and entrepreneurs, has been working for years to change this state of affairs.

The biggest obstacle for film companies working in Maine seems to boil down to tax incentives. According to a report from News Center Maine, our incentive program is one of the lowest in the nation. Granted, production costs are also lower here, but not enough to offset the greater incentives elsewhere.

In the final analysis, unless there is a truly compelling reason to shoot here, it doesn’t make sense to the bottom line.

This seems like such a shame, such a waste. I am sure none of us wants to become the next Hollywood, or even Florida or Georgia. There are reasons we love to live here after all, and none of them have to do with the way of life over there. The people who formed Picture Maine don’t want that either. Not only do they love their home state the way it is, from a purely business standpoint, it wouldn’t make sense.


No one needs another studio town; what they need is what we have.

That said, there is ample room for a thriving industry, one making the sorts of films that would want to come to Maine in the first place, all of which would be generating revenue independent of timber use or lobster harvests. It would provide monetary benefit for our state being the beautiful, wild, slightly strange place it naturally is.

Picture Maine has been working doggedly for several years to gather relevant data, put clear numbers to nebulous ideas and work to effect legislative change. Past attempts to change government bureaucracy on the issue have failed, but a new bill with a structure designed to keep the money local is about to come before the Legislature for debate.

This time, perhaps the tide has shifted. Perhaps we are now at a place where we can begin to look seriously at welcoming in the profession of storytelling and harness the revenue to buoy the way of life we have and cherish. I certainly hope so, and look forward to the day when I recognize the land on screen as truly being from here.

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