Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with the Director of "It Came from Detroit"

Earlier this decade talented local filmmaker James R. Petix and producer Sarah Babila had a brilliant idea - document the incredible Detroit garage rock music scene that was making headlines all around the world (this was also basically the same reason that was created in 2003). Their brilliant idea became the highly sought after documentary It Came From Detroit. Now after years of post production starts and stops (which included a screening in 2006 at the DAFT), James and Sarah are bringing their “ready for prime time” film to the masses this Wednesday and Thursday at the Magic Bag’s Brew n’ View in Ferndale.

Robert De Niro, Edward Norton begin filming at Jackson prison

Detroit News (Associated Press) - May 20, 2009

The now-closed Jackson prison is the scene of "Stone," a psychological thriller starring Robert De Niro and Edward Norton.

The Michigan Film Office says filming began this morning.

As The Detroit News reported in April, the movie, which is being directed by John Curran ("The Painted Veil," starring Norton), is also being shot in Pittsburgh.

De Niro plays a correctional officer who is seduced by the wife of Norton, who portrays a convicted arsonist up for parole. Milla Jovovich plays the wife. Norton and De Niro starred together in the 2001 film "The Score."

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says the movie is being shot at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility, which closed in 2007.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

'High-profile' movie to be shot in West Michigan

Muskegon Chronicle | May 19, 2009

WEST MICHIGAN -- It's not quite the same as seeing your name in lights, but West Michigan movie enthusiasts will get another chance to check out a big-screen film set later this summer.

Holland-based TicTock Studios is producing the feature film "What's Wrong With Virginia," starring Liam Neeson and Jennifer Connelly.

Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Milk," wrote the film and is set to make his directorial debut. He will be joined by former "Milk" counterpart and director Gus Van Sant, who will take on the executive producer role.

TicTock CEO Hopwood DePree said he plans to have all actors and crew in Michigan for the shoot, although filming locations have not been determined. Production starts in late summer.

"The script has a coastal community feel, so West Michigan is really a natural fit," DePree said.

Kalamazoo native McG still feels 'a real kinship' to the people of Michigan

By James Sanford | Kalamazoo Gazette | May 19, 2009

Monday night, director and Kalamazoo native McG gave an audience in Novi a first-look at "Terminator Salvation," his addition to the long-running science-fiction franchise. Prior to the screening, McG conferred with several representatives from the Michigan Film Office about possible projects.

"I feel a real kinship to the people of the state," McG said, "and I thought it would be appropriate to show the film (here) to the first public audience."

The 40-year-old filmmaker was born in Kalamazoo and moved to Newport Beach, Cal. as a child. But he seemed delighted to return to his home state, especially after he heard the cheers and applause that greeted "Salvation."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Holland film to star

WOOD TV8 | May 18, 2009

HOLLAND, Mich (WOOD) - Holland's TicTock Studios will produce "Whats Wrong With Virginia," starring Jennifer Connelly and Liam Neeson.

The announcement was made Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

"Milk" scribe and Academy Award-winner Dustin Lance Black will write and direct the film. Gus Van Zant, director of "Good Will Hunting," will serve as executive producer and TicTock CEO Hopwood DePree will help.

They will scout for locations in a few weeks. Filming will begin late this summer.

Movie 'What's Wrong With Virginia' to be shot in West Michigan, features Liam Neeson, Jennifer Connelly, screenwriter of 'Milk'

By Beth Heinen Bell | The Grand Rapids Press | May 18, 2009

It's not quite the same as seeing your name in lights, but West Michigan movie enthusiasts will get another chance to check out a big-screen film set later this summer.

Holland-based TicTock Studios is producing the feature film "What's Wrong With Virginia," starring Liam Neeson and Jennifer Connelly.

Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Milk," wrote the film and is set to make his directorial debut. He will be joined by former "Milk" counterpart and director Gus Van Sant, who will take on the executive producer role.

TicTock CEO Hopwood DePree said he plans to have all actors and crew on location in Michigan for the shoot, although filming locations have not been determined. Production is set to begin in late summer.

SWM Lawmakers Talk Tax Incentives

Andrew Green Reporting | WSJM AM1400 | May 18, 2009

A new study suggests that Michigan's tax incentive programs aren't drawing in as many businesses as had been hoped. The Michigan film production tax incentives, in particular, are under fire in a recent report by the Anderson Economic Group, which says that Michigan paid moviemakers 50-thousand dollars for each job they created in the state in 2008. State Representative John Proos says that in this competitive environment, Michigan has to keep its options open, and offer tax incentives targeted at industries that will suit the state's workforce:

Listen to the interview online:

TicTock Studios will produce film this summer in Michigan

By JEREMY GONSIOR | The Holland Sentinel | May 18, 2009

Holland, MI — Liam Neeson and Jennifer Connelly will be the stars, but an as-yet-unnamed “boardwalk, beachfront community” — quite possibly in West Michigan — will make a cameo appearance as Holland-based TicTock Studios produces “What’s Wrong with Virginia” this summer.

Company founder Hopwood DePree said filming will be done in Michigan but just where is not yet known.

Crews will arrive soon to decide the film’s location, he said, with the studio searching for varied backgrounds. Shooting begins in late summer.

“We have to do a scout of Michigan, but we would love to see it shot in West Michigan,” he said. “We need the backdrop of a boardwalk, beachfront community.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lawmakers must push for details on film money

By Rich Perlberg | Livingston Daily | May 17, 2009

If lawmakers would just think outside the box, they might find a way to save the jobs of the 100 or so Michigan State Police troopers who are facing layoffs. Why not give all the troopers video cameras so they can film what they do every day?

Then, they can claim they are making movies and get a 40 percent appropriations boost, courtesy of the new Michigan Film Office.

Here's the really good part of my plan. When the state police determine how much they need, all they need to do is to pitch a number of how much they are spending on filming. The higher the number, the more money they get.

What's really special is that virtually no one will be allowed to see if the expenditures are valid or even make sense.

What could be simpler than that?

I'm being sarcastic here. But just a little.

Tweens take their shot at stardom

By Sara Callender • ECCENTRIC STAFF WRITER • May 17, 2009

Jenny Scherzininger always dreamed of being an actress.

She might now be one step closer. The Lake Orion 10-year-old, along with hundreds of other actors at the Radisson Inn in Bloomfield Hills, recently auditioned for The Wannabes — a television show about the lives of “tweens.”

The Wannabes will be the first TV series fully produced and filmed in Michigan.

“I really like Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston,” Jenny said. “I think they're really talented. I really enjoy performing.”

The casting call was sponsored by S3 Entertainment Group, a Ferndale-based company that provides production services, film financing, gear rental and tax incentive consulting. The group was specifically looking for children between the ages of 9 and 15 for principal roles.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Michigan Makes Movies Expo On July 12

CBS Radio Detroit presents the “Michigan Makes Movies Expo” July 12, 2009 at the Rock Financial Showplace from 10am to 6 pm.

This event will include an expo portion where you can meet and receive information from a variety of people and companies involved in the Michigan film industry. There will be 35 different breakout sessions for you to choose from throughout the day including topics like “how do I become an extra?”, “how do I get my child into films?,” cinematography, tv and film production, indy films, script writing, hear from casting directors, receive acting lessons from working Hollywood character actor David Dean Bottrell and much, much more!

You are invited to attend as many sessions as you’d like. All breakout sessions will be conducted by top notch industry professionals. Keep checking back on this site ofte, because we’ll have more details… soon.

Tickets at $25 each will be available for purchase on this site beginning in mid June (ages 16 and up only, please).

If you are an industry professional and are interested in conducting a session or purchasing an expo booth, please email

Dreams of the big screen

By Jeff Meade | Monroe News | May 16. 2009

The Floral City could become the Film City if some Monroe movie aficionados get their way.

Monroe Councilman Jeremy Molenda is working with TK Productions to document what Monroe has to offer movie producers.

"All of the things that make Monroe a great community make it attractive to film producers," he said. "We have great neighborhoods of character, the lake, industry, wetlands, agriculture, an airport, the classic downtown.

"Allen Park has this potential full-scale production studio that’s in the works, but Monroe has so much more to offer."

Michigan’s aggressive pursuit of Hollywood has resulted in more than 30 movies shot in the state in the past year, including in such communities as Detroit, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, Milford, Howell, Saginaw, Frankenmuth and Traverse City.
Tax breaks of up to 42 percent — including 2 percent because Monroe is considered a Michigan Core Community — would be available on labor, goods and services to filmmakers who set up shop in Monroe.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Study: Tax incentives oversight is lacking (with report download)


Michigan’s tax abatement and incentive programs hand out hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses; however, according to a study re-leased Thursday, the state doesn’t know whether it’s getting it’s money’s worth. “We have no proper inventory of tax incentives in Michigan. We do not know how many there are, what the purpose is, how much they cost,” said Patrick Anderson, chief executive officer of the Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing, which prepared the study for the Michigan Education Association union and its national counterpart.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Luring showbiz means understanding business

By Olivia Pulsinelli | Michigan Business Review | April 30, 2009

Michigan's year-old film incentives have sparked debate in the state -- but it's sparked activity, as well.

Last week, Compass Film Academy's alumni board presented its 10th annual 24 Hour Film Festival in Grand Rapids, and advisory board member Ralph Winter was one of three judges at the event. Winter, a producer at 20th Century Fox for the past 10 years, has produced more than 25 films, including the "X-Men" trilogy and the upcoming "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

He spoke with Business Review reporter Olivia Pulsinelli about Hollywood's perspective of the film industry in Michigan.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TV contract approved for Howell's Parker Campus

By Leah Boyd • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • April 28, 2009

The Howell Public Schools Board of Education on Monday approved a contract that will allow a Ferndale-based entertainment company to use the district’s Parker Campus in Marion Township as a filming site for the TV series “The Wannabees.”

Three board members voted against the eight-month contract with Savvy Productions out of concerns the agreement would prohibit use of the school next academic year if an opportunity arose. The board also approved the agreement conditionally, calling for an amendment that would require both the board and the entertainment company to approve any necessary extensions to the deal. As written, the contract allows the company a six-month extension by giving a 30-day notice.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Film-industry professionals say state is well-positioned to draw projects

By Special Writer Anne Duffy | The Ann Arbor News | April 27, 2009

The film industry is exploding in Michigan, and Mike Kelly has helped light the fuse.

The Ann Arbor actor has the lead in two movies premiering locally this spring. He is in negotiations for two more films being shot in Michigan - one of them scheduled to begin filming in May in Ann Arbor.

With production companies like the $146 million Unity Studios coming to Allen Park and creating thousands of high-paying jobs for skilled workers, Kelly envisions Michigan's budding film industry contributing its fair share to lead this state out of its economic quagmire.

Christian Filmmaker Examines World Orphan Crisis Through Inspiring New Documentary

Source: | April 27, 2009

Holland, MI ( April 27, 2009 - Works of Heart Productions, L.L.C., a West Michigan film company, has launched a new documentary project entitled Every 2 Seconds.

Every 2 Seconds is the first-of-it’s-kind Christian documentary that explores not only the international orphan crisis but what’s being done to address the crisis and why it should matter. The project is a labor of love for Producer/ Director Kim de Blecourt and her Holland-based crew.

“Every two seconds another child becomes an orphan,” notes de Blecourt. “There are currently 143 million orphans worldwide, yet less than 1/10th of 1 percent will ever be adopted. Foster care and adoption are intimate ways to become involved with this worldwide epidemic, yet it isn’t only about increasing adoptions – that alone won’t resolve the magnitude of this crisis. It’s about addressing the issue of care for the world’s most vulnerable.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lack of Movie Production Has Hollywood Scrounging

By Lauren Horwitch | The Wrap | April 22, 2009

Not even a booming box office can offset the lack of new investors, the worldwide credit crunch and a suffering DVD and foreign sales market.


The slowdown hasn’t stopped Michigan and Louisiana from building multi-million-dollar production facilities. Producer Jimmy Lifton *announced plans last week to build a $146-million, 750,000-square foot production studio factory and village in Allen Park, Mich.

Michigan Bests Louisiana for $146-million Studio Project

Source: | April 22nd, 2009

Michigan’s aggressive film production attraction efforts have helped land Burbank, California-based Unity Studios to launch a $146-million state-of-the-art production studio in Allen Park, about 10 miles from downtown Detroit. According to reports, Allen Park beat out a location in Louisiana for the complex.

Unity Studios will be majority owned and operated by a group of investors from Los Angeles and Michigan, with Jimmy Lifton of California as the president. The associated Lifton Institute for Media Skills will implement one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan. Out-of-work skilled and unskilled labor will receive on-the-set training and production experience, giving students production credits.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Movie studios tout job creation to lawmakers

Source: Reuters Tue Apr 21, 2009

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's major film and television studios on Tuesday began a new push to educate U.S. lawmakers about the entertainment industry by touting job creation in the recession and media's global trade surplus.

The lobbying effort by the Motion Picture Association of America , which represents the key film and TV studios in governmental affairs, comes after the U.S. Senate in February stripped $246 million in tax breaks for entertainment companies from President Barack Obama 's $ 787 billion stimulus package .

In a study released on Tuesday, the MPAA said the entertainment industry employs 2.5 million U.S. workers and production is increasingly moving to states outside California and New York.

The movement away from the epicenters of film and TV is due in many cases to tax incentives that lure producers.