Friday, November 28, 2008

Region awaits movie spotlight

By VANESSA MCCRAY | Traverse City Record Eagle | November 28, 2008

TRAVERSE CITY -- Movie-making mania has hit Michigan.

It's been all lights, cameras and action since April, when the state offered alluring refundable tax credits to entice filmmakers. The Michigan Film Office lists about two dozen recently wrapped or upcoming productions that star the state.

Those titles include the Clint Eastwood-directed "Gran Torino," filmed in and around Detroit; Drew Barrymore's name-dropping cast (Ellen Page, Jimmy Fallon, Marcia Gay Harden) of "Whip It!", a movie about a roller derby team filmed in Ann Arbor and environs; and "The Steam Experiment," a Val Kilmer flick shot in Grand Rapids.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mom's small movie role turns into something extra


Vivian Brock, above, a Troy mother of three teens, got more than she expected when she showed up to be a Michigan movie extra. She answered a casting call for the movie "Demoted," starring actors Michael Vartan and Sean Astin. She was supposed to be a face in a cafeteria crowd. But when she was selected to be a face in the movie's on-screen secretarial office pool, a one-day gig turned into a seven-week stint. Here's how she did it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Illinois finds permanence in film incentive

By Robert K. Elder | Chicago Tribune | November 22, 2008

It's not the Bat Signal, but it's close.

A new bill aimed at attracting more movies and TV series to Illinois passed both the state House and Senate on Thursday. The measure approves a 30 percent tax incentive, which supporters say directly competes with Michigan's film tax rebate of 42 percent. The new measure does not expire, leaving the door open for TV series to schedule long productions in the state.,0,2436502.story

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Novi residents get shot at stardom

By Kelly Murad • STAFF WRITER • November 20, 2008

With hopes of being a star, about 200 Novi residents in less than one week have submitted their information to be included in the City of Novi's Movie Extras Database.

The Novi Film Office created a database, which will be available to production companies, containing general information of people interested in working as extras in movies or commercials filmed in the community.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dot&Cross looks to carve its niche in multimedia

By Shandra Martinez | The Grand Rapids Press | Wednesday November 19, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS -- Dot&Cross makes films but not the ones seen on the big screen or the big box. Not yet.

The Grand Rapids company is carving out a niche in multimedia.

"While many companies either produce films or design books or develop Web sites, we focus on cohesively uniting all of those elements into a single brand experience," said Brett VanTil, who created Dot&Cross six months ago with partners Corey Petrick, Santino Stoner and David Wenzel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

`Cherry' wraps up filming in Kalamazoo, leaving more than 30 interns with movie memories

BY LINDA MUNNELLY | Tuesday, November 18, 2008 | Kalamazoo Gazette

KALAMAZOO -- Filming for the movie ``Cherry'' is wrapping up today, leaving more than 30 college students who were interns and extras with valuable experience.

The comedy-drama was shot over the past month on the campuses of Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University and near downtown Kalamazoo. The film is a coming-of-age tale about a college freshman.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sighting turned teen into more than face in the crowd


Rosie O'Donnell spotted Cass Tech senior Philip Johnson in a Detroit restaurant. Now they're costarring in a TV movie.
There's a legend in Hollywood that Lana Turner, the Scarlett Johansson of her day, became a star after being discovered sipping a soda at Schwab's drugstore.

It sounds like something that doesn't happen in real life. Except it does. Just ask Detroit's Philip Johnson.

Last month, the 17-year-old Cass Tech senior was eating lunch downtown at Small Plates when Rosie O'Donnell spotted him and asked if he'd be interested in trying out for a film.

Fiber artist winds her way into film business

By Stephanie Angelyn Casola • O&E STAFF WRITER • November 13, 2008

Cynthia LaMaide has been making and designing clothing since as far back as she can recall. The Rochester-based fiber artist cinched her love of the art by pursuing her degree in clothing design from Arizona State University. But she couldn't have guessed back then that her work would be worn by rock stars like Lenny Kravitz, supermodels including Kate Moss, and that they would weave their way into the plot lines of major motion pictures - like the one currently filming in metro Detroit, New Line Cinema's Intent.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Filming now under way on Parker High movie

By Tom Tolen | The Livingston Community News | November 12, 2008

It's all about "Lights! Camera! Action! this week at Howell's Parker High School as shooting begins for the movie "High School" starring actors Michael Chiklis and Adrien Brody.

The hurry-up production schedule calls for the production team to work continuously from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily to take advantage of as much daylight as possible and to wrap up shooting before Christmas. Producers are paying Howell Public Schools $180,000 for use of mostly vacant Parker campus.

Many area residents will have bit parts in the movie, playing students and teachers as extras.

County part of Mich. film 'gold rush'

By Kristofer Karol • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • November 12, 2008

The assistant director of the Michigan Film Office told the crowd at a Howell Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday that the state is experiencing a "gold rush" of moviemaking.

Mike Grabemeyer said three movies filmed in the state last year and, due to the state's 42 percent tax incentive package for the entertainment industry passed this year, 71 projects have now been approved thus far in 2008.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keep the cameras rolling

Chicago Tribune | November 11, 2008

Last summer's Batman saga, "The Dark Knight," was a worldwide hit and a boon to Chicago, where it was filmed. The production spent some $40 million locally.

"The Dark Knight" was part of a very good year on screen for Chicago. Vince Vaughn's "Fred Claus," Angela Bassett's "Meet the Browns," and Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman's "Wanted" were also shot here.

All told, the film industry spent a record $155 million in Illinois in 2007, generating about $390 million in economic activity and employing thousands of people.

This year will be nowhere near as good and next year looks bleak.

There are a lot of factors that determine where a film is shot. But there is one that Illinois can significantly influence: the cost of doing business here.

Illinois provides a 20 percent tax incentive for film productions, but some competing states and cities provide more. (Michigan created a 42 percent credit this year and New York provides a 35 percent break.),0,3075562.story

Makin' Movies: 'American Virgin' Brings Jobs and Dreams to Local Crews

By: Terry Parris Jr. | Model D | November 11, 2008

man in a black stocking hat is moving a 20-foot pole back and forth along the sidewalk of Monroe Street in the heart of Greektown. "Closer to me," yells someone on the other side of the street. "Bring it in the street if you have to!" There were four poles, all exactly the same. Three other guys walked up, wearing various types of stocking hats and cloth gloves. Each one grabs a pole and jostles it around.

"I need some sands bags over here!" Says one of the four workers. He has a beard. His cheeks are red from the cold. A fifth worker appears, "There aren't sandbags on the cart, let me check the truck." He comes back carrying four small canvas looking bags that, by the look on his face, are holding a bit of weight.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Local co-director's flick opens at Howell Theater

By Alison Bergsieker | DAILY PRESS & ARGUS | November 9, 2008

The Howell Theater rolled out the red carpet Tuesday night for the premiere of "Ghost Town," a Western movie co-directed by a Fowlerville resident.

Dean Teaster, 51, said his movie premiere is the first in Michigan since the inception of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's 40 percent tax rebate for filmmakers.

Actors from Fowlerville were cast in the movie, and Lansing-based production company Collective Development Inc. produced the film.

Focus is on Livingston County as movie shoot approaches

By Christopher Behnan • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • November 9, 2008

As principal photography begins this week on the independent film "High School," Howell-area business are primed to make some serious bucks with the film's cast and crew in town for the next several weeks.

The movie, being shot at the Howell Public Schools Parker Campus in Marion Township, has a budget of about $9.5 million.

Production company Parallel Media of Studio City, Calif., estimated that about $6 million of that will go to local businesses for a host of merchandise and services.

Howell Chamber Hosts Informational Forum On Film Industry

11/10/08 - As the film industry begins to ramp up production in Michigan, the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce will host an informational program Tuesday morning to make sure Livingston County residents are informed and prepared. Among the visiting speakers will be Mike Grabemeyer, Assistant Director of the Michigan Film Office, who will explain how Michigan is attracting filmmakers to the state. Also speaking is Ryan Lewis, Executive Producer of the movie “High School” that is set to begin filing at Howell's Parker High School campus this week. He's expected to give details about the movie and explain how it will affect the local economy. The Livingston County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Barbara Barden will be the emcee of the presentation and tells WHMI that Livingston County needs to roll out the red carpet for the film industry as it has the potential to bring in an economic infusion at a time when it is needed the most. The program will take place Tuesday at 7:30am at Crystal Gardens in Howell. The cost will be $30 for the public. To R.S.V.P. or for more information, call the chamber at 517-546-3920 or e-mail

Saturday, November 8, 2008

States’ Film Production Incentives Cause Jitters

The Gainesville Sun | October 13, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Already on the hook for billions to bail out Wall Street, taxpayers are also finding themselves stuck with a growing tab for state programs intended to increase local film production.


Michigan, its own budget sagging, is in the middle of a hot political fight over a generous 40 percent rebate on expenditures to filmmakers that was carried out, with little opposition, only last April. Producers of films for studios like Warner Brothers and the Weinstein Company rushed to cash in, just as homegrown businesses were squeezed by a new business tax and surcharge. Rebellious legislators from both parties are now looking to put a cap on the state’s annual film spending, which some have estimated could quickly hit $200 million a year.

Michigan Extras: It's All About the Movies

By Garrett Godwin | News Blade | October 6, 2008

Hollywood continues to be developing in the State of Michigan, giving local residents the opportunity to make their mark in movies -- even if they're in the background.

For instance, Raised Alone is the first picture ever approved under the Michigan Film Incentives. The independent short film tells the story an obsessed workaholic whose desire for his family's finances overwhelms the desire to raise his neglected son Adam, who's now a gifted and well-known violinist. Raised Alone was made on a $55,000 budget, as budding Michigan actors were being cast as extras for concert shoots for two days: Wednesday afternoon at the Redford Theatre on Grand River and Lahser in Detroit, and the next will be on Friday morning at the Cherry Hills School of Performing Arts in Inkster.

Forum explores how to cash in on Michigan Film Incentive

By Terry Oparka | C & G Staff Writer | October 5, 2008

TROY — Employee layoffs loomed as a real possibility for Duane Swanson, director of operations for the Somerset Inn in Troy last year. “The budget forecast was down,” he said. “We needed a miracle.”

He got four.

Four feature film production companies have stayed at the hotel since Michigan lawmakers approved the Michigan Film Incentive, which grants up to 40-percent tax incentives for approved film production companies to film in Michigan.

“We got out of the hole by the end of August,” he said. “The production companies also rented office space nearby and spent money and time at the Somerset Collection. If you want the perfect hotel guest, they are it. They are nice people.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Film act could launch games

By Lynn Stevens | Business Review Western Michigan | November 06, 2008

Michigan's film incentives offer enticements to more than moviemakers -- they include identical rebates for video game development studios. That could profit Michigan more.

"It's a huge opportunity for the state," said Tony Wenson, COO of the Michigan Film Office. "It is what will, I think, create more of an impact in the long term than film credits will."

Among the reasons is that video game studios operate differently from film production companies. They're permanent businesses. They hire full-time people who work in offices, buy houses and send their children to school where they live, he explained.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Film industry comes to Good Morning Livingston


Hollywood is coming to Howell, and the next Howell Area Chamber of Commerce Good Morning Livingston program will explore all aspects of the movie industry in the state and in the community. This event on the film industry in Michigan and Howell takes place Nov. 11 at 7:30 a.m. at Crystal Gardens, 5768 E. Grand River Ave. in Howell.

Guests will learn what’s in store as the movie “High School” is set to begin filming at Parker High School. Executive producer of the film, Ryan Lewis, will share details about the makings of the movie and its impact on the business community. Lewis will give background on the movie, how the cast and crew are interacting with business and residents, his impressions of Howell and how communities can be successful in working with his industry.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Source: | November 3, 2008

The trailer for Clint Eastwood's last on-screen preformance Gran Torino, is now online. This past summer, Gran Torino was the first major motion picture to be shot in metro Detroit after the recent passage of the recent Michigan film incentives.

Look for much Academy Award hype this year as Gran Tarino hit's theaters in time for the this year's holiday movie session.

'Virgin' territory: Shooting for Rob Schneider's new movie lights up Greektown

Adam Graham / The Detroit News / November 3, 2008

Rob Schneider is in a grungy back alley in Greektown dressed like a pimped-out Jonas Brother, with loud red pants, a suit coat rolled up to his elbows and a ridiculous faux-hawk atop his head. He's repeatedly beating a subordinate over the head with a stack of T-shirts outside an RV emblazoned with the words "Chicks Go Crazy."

Has Mr. Schneider fallen on hard times? Not quite. Turns out he's filming a scene for his latest movie, a bawdy romp tentatively titled "American Virgin" that is the latest film production to take advantage of Michigan's generous tax initiative.

Michigan Film Industries Video (YouTube)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

West Branch Movie Buzz

Private Blog | November 1, 2008

The West Branch Area Film Initiative, or Ogemaw County Film Initiative, is currently organizing and will have a website up soon! I am a member of the film committee, unofficially, and will try my best to keep updates on this great experience for West Branch. The goal is not only to get movies made in West Branch, but to bring jobs to the residents of Ogemaw County and to give the youth of the area a reason to come back home after college or during college. There is training available for film work and opportunities throughout Michigan. You can view some info on the Michigan Film Incentive, which is a tax cut for filmmakers shooting in Michigan, at

I feel very strongly about this initiative in West Branch. Pete Fabbri, the lead organizer of the Initiative and co-owner of The Silver Lining in downtown West Branch, has told us that West Branch is in the lead for organizing for filming right now. No other town is as on the ball as we are, and we hope to keep it that way!
As soon as a site is up and running for the film initiative, I will provide a link.