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Quincy movie studio owner makes plans to expand into Watertown

Jen Benson hops to lobbying shop; Chevron CEO talks energy at CEOs Club; Another big-name ad campaign for Joe Berkeley.

Marina Cappi, owner of Marina Studios.Chris Morris

Whitney Houston’s music career most likely didn’t involve a stop at Marina Bay.

But a building in the Quincy neighborhood plays a critical role in “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the biopic of the ‘80s superstar that arrives in theaters later this month, thanks to moviemaking magic — and Marina Cappi’s entrepreneurship.

In just two years, Cappi and her business, Marina Studios, have emerged as prominent players in Greater Boston’s film industry. She remade the former Marina Bay Sportsplex into her first movie soundstage in time to accommodate the Houston movie in 2021. Then, earlier this year, she built a second soundstage from the ground up, in Canton.

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Now, she has her eyes on a third property, in Watertown (though she’s not quite ready to share the address). The hope is to get permitting started next year on the Gensler-designed project, which would be a mix of renovation and new construction, and to open it in 2024.

Cappi had great timing when she launched Marina Studios in 2020 after leaving her job as project manager at construction giant Skanska. That’s because the Legislature finally made the state’s film industry tax credits permanent in 2021, ending years of uncertainty. While New England Studios has soundstages in Devens, about an hour’s drive northwest of Boston, there were no film studios close to Boston to tap into the city’s moviemaking frenzy until Cappi opened hers. (She named the company after herself, not the location, though it’s a nice coincidence.) She said her background in construction and commercial real estate made her well-suited for the production side of movie work.

Employees work in Marina Studios in Quincy on Oct. 21, 2021.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

“I do something different every single day,” Cappi said. “Everyone gets so close. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels so satisfying to read a script and then to see it on the screen.”

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Two other movies have been filmed at her studios so far: “The Collaboration,” in Quincy, and “Thug,” in Canton. She has had production roles in all three films — in part by joining Compelling Pictures, one of the companies behind “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “The Collaboration.” Cappi said she met her Compelling partners, Jeff Kalligheri and Denis O’Sullivan, through a mutual friend.

The biggest surprise? Maybe that the stars, such as “Thug” actor Liam Neeson, are normal people, too. “They’re just . . . regular people,” she said, “and they’re just as easy to work with as a colleague that you work with on a daily basis.”

Next stop for ABL’s Benson

After three years at the Alliance for Business Leadership, president Jen Benson is wrapping things up there this week in preparation for a new job: She’s headed to Boston lobbying firm Travaglini, Scorzoni & Kiley in January.

The progressive-leaning business group, which has a four-person staff and a budget of about $750,000, announced Benson’s pending departure on Monday. Vice president Josselyn De León-Estrada will manage ABL’s operations while the group’s board searches for a new president.

After leaving the state House of Representatives in early 2020 to join ABL, Benson played a key role in championing the offshore wind industry. She helped push her former colleagues in the Legislature to pass a clean energy bill that will help the nascent sector get off the ground, and led a delegation of business and civic leaders to Denmark to learn about the industry’s development in that country.

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Her work in the offshore wind field, and clean energy in general, will continue at Travaglini, Scorzoni & Kiley. The firm’s energy clients include Vineyard Wind and cable manufacturer Prysmian Group as well as NextEra Energy and clean-tech incubator Greentown Labs. Benson is already quite familiar with Greentown, in part because its chief executive, Emily Reichert, sits on ABL’s board. Benson will also help many of the firm’s other clients, a roster that ranges from the Red Sox to Anheuser-Busch.

Benson said that while at ABL, she has worked closely in particular with her future colleagues Christian Scorzoni and Jen Gorke on offshore wind efforts.

“I think they are an amazing team, really on the cutting edge with developing this industry,” Benson said. “When they approached me, I thought it was such a great opportunity.”

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth. Christopher Goodney

For Chevron CEO, smooth sailing at the top?

The chief executive succession at Walt Disney Co. famously didn’t go according to plan, with former chief Robert Iger suddenly stepping in last month to replace Bob Chapek after less than three years in the job.

The transitions at the headquarters of another giant California company, Chevron, have been far more graceful. That’s at least how the current chief executive Mike Wirth tells it.

Wirth appeared last week at the Boston College Chief Executives Club, where he was questioned in front of a crowd of roughly 125 businesspeople by Suffolk Construction chief executive John Fish. The first question: Who gave you guidance and support in your career?

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Wirth gave props to his dad, before pointing to his three predecessors in the chief executive office at Chevron.

“CEO succession can be a tricky thing, as we’ve seen in any number of companies,” Wirth said, before referring to General Electric and the recent Disney debacle (without mentioning Disney by name).

By contrast, all four current and former Chevron chief executives live near each other, and maintain strong friendships. Wirth said he has lunch with them three or four times a year.

“They’re curious about what’s happening in the company and the industry,” Wirth said. “I’m curious about the lessons they’ve learned from . . . their long careers.”

Unsurprisingly, Fish and Wirth talked a lot about energy policy. Fish mentioned a recent letter Eversource chief executive Joe Nolan sent to President Biden, imploring Biden to use his emergency powers to suspend a federal law that prevents liquefied natural gas from being moved by ship to New England from the Gulf Coast. Wirth had penned his own letter to Biden several months earlier, calling for the administration to take a more cooperative approach with the oil industry.

Fish asked Wirth what prompted his White House letter. Wirth said he wanted to see an energy policy that balances affordability, reliability and security, and the environment. Wirth expressed frustration with Biden’s current approach, implying it favors the environment over the other two factors. “It’s been difficult to get traction for a balanced conversation on energy policy,” Wirth said.

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Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots reacts during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 01, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Joe Berkeley created a new set of football-themed ads featuring Jones, on behalf of Quincy-based Arbella Insurance.Billie Weiss/Getty

New QB, same Joe

Has Joe Berkeley become the go-to guy for ads involving Patriots quarterbacks?

Sure looks that way. Berkeley teamed up with David Gardiner — both of them former Hill Holliday executives, before leaving to go out on their own more than eight years ago — to design the Shields Health Care Group ad featuring Tom Brady a few years back. (Movie director Bobby Farrelly actually directed the spot.)

Now, Berkeley is playing a key role behind another set of football-themed ads, this time featuring current Patriots QB Mac Jones, on behalf of Quincy’s Arbella Insurance.

The ads, which Berkeley created with Tim Foley, have been running throughout the football season. (Berkeley directed the spots, while Foley was the art director and production designer.) One features Jones moving into his new home, only to find out that the moving company accidentally swapped his stuff with an old lady’s belongings. Jones inspects random tchotchkes, fiddles with a rabbit-ears antenna to watch a game, and chills out on a pink sofa, while asking where his stuff went. “Being a rookie homeowner is full of surprises,” the narrator intones. “Insuring your first home with Arbella isn’t.”

Berkeley said Jones and Brady were both naturals in front of the camera.

“Anytime you work with a pro athlete,” Berkeley said, “if you can explain this is a game, what the rules of the game are, and how much time is on the clock, you will have good results.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him @jonchesto.