Hingham's Marina Cappi is transforming New England's film industry one movie studio at a time - and making history in the process.
By Juliet Pennington
Photography by Derrick Zellman
When Marina Cappi was a little girl, her grandfather told her that she could be whatever
she wanted to be, and do whatever she wanted to do. Clearly, the founder of Quincy’s
Marina Studios took those words of encouragement to heart, as she is now not only a film
producer, but at the helm of one of the country’s only woman-owned movie studios–with
a production schedule booked several years out.
A 33-year-old mother of 3-year-old twins, Cappi’s rocketing career trajectory may at first sound surprising. But if you ask the Hingham resident about her transition into the film industry, she’ll tell you that it just made good business sense.
“My background is in construction, commercial real estate and finance,” says Cappi, a
Rochester, N.Y., native, who moved to Boston 16 years ago to attend Suffolk University.
Aside from a year when she moved home to care for her ailing grandfather, she has
remained in the greater Boston area ever since.
“If you look at what I have built, it’s kind of a mix of all three of the things I was doing
before,” says Cappi. “Making a movie is actually a lot like running a large construction
project. It was a smooth transition for me once I met and partnered with my production
company [Compelling Pictures, cofounded by Denis O’Sullivan and East Boston native
Cappi recognized that there was a growing need for studio space in Massachusetts, due in large part to a 2005 tax incentive program that was originally scheduled to expire in January 2023, which was made permanent by the Massachusetts Legislature last year. The exponential growth of streaming services in recent years has also led to increased interest in filming in the Bay State. “The need for content is enormous,” says Cappi. "There is a huge lack of space for filming throughout the country."
When Cappi first saw the former Marina Bay Sportsplex, which had closed during the pandemic, she envisioned it as an opportunity to make a big splash in the New England film industry. She purchased the Victory Road campus in 2021 and proceeded to have the facility transformed into a modern, 26,000-square-foot soundstage with a 14,000-square-foot production office and a 3-acre backlot.
"I noticed that there weren’t any sound stages close to the city. Quincy is 8 miles away from the airport, which makes it very convenient to fly people in and out,”
says Cappi, who notes that the Marina Bay location also had a lot of other things going for it."
“[Marina Bay] is very much a live/work/play environment. It’s on the water, there are plenty of restaurants and short-term housing and apartments... you don’t have to leave for any reason.”
Now fully invested in her career change, Cappi recently had another 32,000-square-foot soundstage constructed in Canton, which opened in early July. She notes that there’s enough work to go around and looks forward to collaborating with New England Studios, a large facility that opened in Devens in 2014.
“There’s plenty of work for all,” concurs Gary Crossen, general manager of New England Studios. “This is a great opportunity for additional jobs, and a woman opening a business here is only a plus to the Massachusetts economy and to Massachusetts society.”
The first production to use the space at Marina Studios was the Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (scheduled to release in December), which was directed by Kasi Lemmons, written by Anthony McCarten, and for which Cappi was an executive producer.
“The team that I worked with on “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” was so talented," says Cappi. "The strong friendships that came from that production are very special to me.”
Upcoming projects at Marina Studios include “The Collaboration,” a film about the complicated relationship between artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and “The Blur,” a horror film centered around a same-sex couple that is directed by Joe Miale.
Cappi is currently producing “Daddy Issues,” a coming-of-age story about three adult women that is being directed by Katie Cassidy, which will begin filming at Marina Studios in October. Cappi said she isn’t at liberty to talk about some of the other projects in which she/her studio is involved, “So many non-disclosure agreements,” she quips.
Cappi admits to daily “pinch me” moments, and says that being in the movie industry uses her background in a very practical way, but also allows her to be creative at the same time. She likens her excitement for her newfound career to the feeling of satisfaction she would experience when visualizing a construction project before it was built and then seeing it come to fruition. “You’re seeing a story come to life on the screen,” she says.
“I have found an amazing and supportive community with the amount of women that are in the film industry,” says Cappi. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” was directed by Kasi Lemmons and it was such a joy being able to collaborate with her on that incredible film. In addition, I have a strong support system from the local Women in Film and Video in New England organization and I have participated as a keynote speaker discussing the roles of female storytellers.”
Ever since Marina Studios got off the ground, Cappi has been traveling more for work, but says she’s fortunate that her daughter and son are young enough to be able to accompany her. When she’s not on the road, she makes time to go to the beach with her kids and in her limited free time she enjoys playing golf and practicing yoga.
“Half of the reason I moved to Hingham is because of Krigsman Yoga,” says Cappi. “It’s my favorite yoga studio on the planet!" She readily admits that juggling a demanding career and parenting is not always easy. “There are not enough hours in a day so I just finish as much as possible and I prioritize," she says. "I put the kids first, and then I just make it work.”
Reflecting on her unique career journey, Cappi says she believes her grandfather, who died in 2013, would have been proud of her. “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be – and I’m just getting started.”
To watch the movie trailer for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" Click Here.
For more information on Marina Studios, visit marinastudios.com.