Story by Marianne Salza
Marina Cappi is sharp, resilient, and assertive. After graduating from Suffolk University with a degree in finance, she became a commercial real estate broker in her hometown of Rochester, New York; and transitioned into the construction business. Cappi then launched into her current career path: the film industry.
“If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to do it,” Cappi chuckled affirmatively. “It’s about believing in yourself. You make it work. Nothing good happens easily.”
Cappi is one of the few women in America to own and manage a movie studio, and was the executive producer of the biopic, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
The CEO and Founder of Marina Studios described her rise in the movie industry and her experiences behind the scenes (such as housing Liam Neeson for a few months during filming because he preferred her home to the Mandarin Oriental hotel) during the Beacon Hill Women’s Forum, on November 14, at The Hampshire House.
Early in Cappi’s career, she discovered the importance of establishing an ambitious network of people, having the fortitude to think creatively, and developing the ability to accept criticism. Her resolute doggedness has motivated Cappi to achieve when those around her doubted.
“Out of all the incredible things that happen throughout your life, sometimes things point you in the right direction; and sometimes it feels like everything is against you,” said 35-year-old Cappi, a single mother of 4-year-old twins. “You can still make it work.”
Cappi transformed an abandoned warehouse in Quincy’s Marina Bay into a state-of-the-art sound stage and movie studio. In partnership with Compelling Pictures and Sony Pictures, (and with Massachusetts’s tax friendly incentives), Cappi produced “Whitney” as her first film at Marina Studios. Cappi also collaborated with Whitney Houston’s family and record producer, Clive Davis.
“I love who I worked with,” Cappi shared. “Some of those people became the greatest friends I’ve ever had.
Between bustling to London or Los Angeles – where she built a second production studio – Cappi loves returning to Boston, where she can spend time with family, and enjoy the proximity to Cape Cod and Vermont.
“A lot of producers and directors feel that our landscape can go many different ways in two hours,” noted Cappi, a Hingham resident. “One of the leading reasons our tax credit became permanent was because we draw an incredible diversity here.”
Although Hollywood is demanding and challenging, Cappi believes that if someone can raise children, he or she can make a movie. She compared managing construction projects to producing a film.
“I used to get a building plan, a budget, I hired unions, and I built a building,” explained Cappi, who studied at the Paris Graduate School of Management. “Now I get a script, a budget, I hire unions, and I make a movie. It is the exact same thing.”
Cappi’s grandfather, who also worked in the construction businesses, was her greatest influence.
“My grandfather was the love of my life and my biggest tutor,” Cappi said. “Even though he passed away just after college, he taught me everything I know from construction to ‘if they tell you no, do it anyway.’”
Now Cappi’s aspirations involve what she can create for her children’s future. She hopes to build studios throughout the world, and provide continuous, stable jobs. Her next project features Anthony Hopkins in the thriller, “Locked.”
“I feel like everything I have learned from college to now guides me in a different way,” acknowledged Cappi. “All those little steps end up being why you are where you are.”