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.

Allen Park unveils plan to build production studio

By Mike Hicks | The Michigan Journal | 4/21/09

Allen Park Mayor Gary Burtka, Hollywood film executive Jimmy Lifton and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, announced at Allen Park City Hall their plans to build a $146 million media production studio factory and village. The studio will sit on 104 acres of land at Southfield Road and Enterprise Drive in Allen Park.

Unity Studios will be constructed in phases, with the first set to begin within 30 to 45 days and focusing on the building of soundstages and the Lifton Institute for Media Skills. The institute will mark one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan, readying out-of-work skilled and unskilled laborers for careers in the entertainment industry. Up to 3,000 union jobs are expected to be created, with preference being given to Allen Park residents and laid off workers from across the region.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chatting with Mike Binder


Michigan has always been a muse for Mike Binder.

In films like "Crossing the Bridge" and "The Upside of Anger," the former Detroiter has woven his hometown into the fiber of his projects. He's doing it again, this time with a Fox sitcom pilot that could be picked up later this year.

"Two Dollar Beer," written, directed and executive-produced by Binder, is about a group of young, blue-collar friends in metro Detroit who are dealing with a changing world. Sounds about right, right about now.

Binder spoke about the sitcom from Los Angeles recently, where his hectic schedule fits the old axiom that dying is easy, comedy is hard. He also talked about Michigan's film incentives, for which he was a leading proponent.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More Down River Studio Details | April 18, 2009

Above is one of the first renderings of the announced $146 Million Unity Studios project in Allen Park. The scope of this project is massive and once completed will be more like a city within a city. As I mentioned previously, the project will house offices, sound stages, production facilities, educational facilities, as well as retail --- a fully comprehensive film mecca.

The complex’s educational facilities will be home to one of the most ambitious retraining programs ever attempted. The goal is to help the 1000s of unemployed find skills and specialties in the film industry based on knowledge they already pocess. The project will add over 3000 jobs once completed. Downriver residents will receive priority hiring.

Although an official construction start date has not been announced, late summer or early fall seems likely.

Update #1: Inital pre construction prep could begin within 30-60 days.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Skilled labor, facilities key to Michigan's movie success

By Tom Long / The Detroit News / April 17, 2009

So far, Michigan's record of success at the movie box office is spectacular.

Of course, that's because only one of the 35 films shot in Michigan during 2008 has actually made it into movie theaters across the nation. That would be Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino," which cost less than $35 million to make and took in $146 million in North American theaters.

No other movie made here in 2008 is likely to have that kind of success. In fact, most of the film productions were low-budget affairs that could go straight to DVD if they surface at all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is Michigan film-friendly enough?

By Olivia Pulsinelli | Michigan Business Review | April 16, 2009

While Michigan's film-incentive program is still in its infancy, many in the industry say the state still has work to do.

"We just have to get moving," said Deb Havens, founding and current chair of the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance. "We're really not in any position to kiss this off. Michigan is in very big need -- and so is the rest of our country. It would be great if we could actually turn around some of this economic panic, and we've already gone so far."

In the one year the incentives have been on the books, 35 approved projects have completed their work in the state. According to the Michigan Film Office's 2008 annual report, refundable tax credits totaled nearly $50 million.

An economic-impact study Michigan State University conducted in February reported that, through a multiplier effect, film expenditures generated a total of $93.8 million in state output last year. The study predicts total expenditures will grow 187 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Cassis Praises Film Studio That Granholm Brought to Michigan

By Wizardkitten | April 16, 2009

Get a load of this. Cassis is happy that Unity Studios is coming to Allen Park, but she refuses to acknowledge what brought the studio here, instead giving all the credit to studio head Jimmy Lifton.

“This is one of the most exciting developments in recent years,” said Cassis, R-Novi. “It’s a tribute to the commitment, perseverance, and enthusiasm of Jimmy Lifton. He demonstrates the impact that one person with a clear vision can have on our economy.”

Who's vision Nancy? That one person this time was Jennifer Granholm - and if you want to get real technical, the biggest push came from Republican Bill Huizenga, and this actually started many years ago. Back in 2004, the West Michigan Film Video Alliance formed to promote Michigan's movie potential. After "The Road to Perdition" and "8 Mile" were shot in the state, people began to sit up and take notice of the money and jobs that accompanied production. By September 17th of 2005, an editorial in the GR Press endorsed the idea - with the tax incentives of places like Canada, Louisana, and New Mexico already set as our target.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

State of the art film studio coming to MI | April 14, 2009

LANSING -- The following is a message from Gov. Granholm:

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced 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. The project is expected to initially create up to 121 new jobs, including 83 directly by the company. At full operation, Unity Studios, factoring in related business and film and television productions, expects to employ up to 3,000.

“We are working hard to build a diversified economy and create good-paying jobs for our talented workforce,” Granholm said. “As a result of our aggressive film incentives enacted just a year ago, we are not only bringing new investment to the burgeoning film production community in Michigan, we are putting in place the infrastructure for an industry that will support long-term job growth and opportunity in new, creative sectors.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Senator raises pressure to spell out film spending

By Christopher Behnan • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • April 13, 2009

The state Senate Finance Committee has directed Michigan Film Office Director Janet Lockwood to provide a breakdown of the money individual film companies spent in the state while filming here last year.

Committee Chairwoman Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, has requested that Lockwood provide the information by April 27. Lockwood is scheduled to appear before Cassis' committee three days later.

Cassis said Lockwood omitted that information from the film office's scant, three-page annual report. The report did say that film companies will receive a total of $48 million in rebates for those movies; spent a total $125 million in Michigan; and created 2,800 temporary jobs on 35 films in 2008.

TV sitcom for tweens to be shot in Michigan


The Ferndale-based S3 Entertainment Group announced plans today to produce and film a television series entirely in Michigan.

Titled “The Wannabes,” it’s described as a tween sitcom filled with singing and dancing. It’s set to star members of a real-life teen group called Savvy.

S3EG is partnering on the project with Stern-LeMaire Productions, a Texas-based company that manages Savvy, whose members also are from Texas, according to online biographies of the group’s members.

Shooting is supposed to start in June. Jeff Spilman of S3EG said today that he expects to have a virtually 100% Michigan crew.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Filmmakers in need of the perfect locales


You don't find the filmmakers; the filmmakers find you.

So what locales catch their eye?

"It just depends on the story," said Mike Grabemeyer, head of locations for the Michigan Film Office, who has found himself looking for sunflower fields one week and town squares with courthouses the next. "I can't predict in two months what I'll be looking for."

The film office has more than 1,700 locations for producers from its research and from submissions from people and businesses. Grabemeyer always is looking for more, with an emphasis that pictures must be submitted on a disc.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Letter: Leave Michigan film credit law alone

by Rep. Roy Schmidt | Grand Rapids | April 10, 2009

The Press editorial "Don't pan movie law yet" is absolutely dead on. The jobs created by the film and entertainment business are entry level positions that are for the most part taking the place of industrial jobs we have lost. It is good work, provides re-training on-the-job and pays a livable wage.
In my district alone, we have seen a huge increase in the demand for stage and theatrical workers. Experienced hands are being sought which leaves a hole in our supply of loaders, stage hands and some skilled positions for shows and conventions at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place. Grand Rapids has made great progress in developing entertainment sectors and boasts of not only the Van Andel Arena but the Walker DeltaPlex and downtown's now famous Intersection. Plans are to build an amphitheater and expand the B.O.B. Other entertainment venues aren't far behind.
To cut short the growth in this industry would be shortsighted and have enormous implications as we all work so hard to get people back to work in Michigan. I will ask my House colleagues to vote no on this bill should it be introduced. Thanks to The Press for seeing and expressing this issue so clearly.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

lm Industry comes Up North to Michigan

By Patty Lanoue Stearns | Traverse Magazine | April 8, 2009

Pam Yee got her casting call and jumped in her car. The Benzie County artist was due on the set—actually a Leelanau County RV park—at 10 a.m. as an $8-an-hour extra for the film, Youth in Revolt, starring Michael Cera (Juno), Portia Doubleday, Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta and Fred Willard, to be released by MGM sometime in 2009.

Based on the bestselling teen-angst novel by C.D. Payne, Youth in Revolt was shot last summer in Interlochen, Frankfort and Leelanau County, one of about 32 film and television projects that came to Michigan in 2008, thanks to enticing tax breaks announced last April.

Landmark backdrop for movie shoot - with photo gallery

By Christopher Behnan • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • April 5, 2009

Actress Hilary Swank's film shoot in Howell on Saturday hardly captured the excitement of Steve McQueen's car chase scene in "Bullitt," but still drew some 45 people to the set of "Betty Anne Waters."

Swank plays the title role in the film, which tells the true story of a woman who puts herself through law school and eventually represents her brother, later found to be wrongfully convicted of murder. (photo gallery)

The two-time Academy Award winner wore a green coat and black slacks, walked from west to east on State Street, up the side staircase of the historical Livingston County Courthouse and inside — five times.

Moviemakers expect $5.7M break

By Christopher Behnan • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • April 8, 2009

Parallel Media, the California-based production company for the film "High School," expects to receive as $5.7 million, taxpayer-funded rebate for shooting the film in Michigan and will offset a total budget of roughly $19 million.

That figure came from "High School" producer Ray Markovich in an interview with Kathy Hoekstra, spokeswoman for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy think tank in Midland, who has followed the state's generous film incentive.

Hoekstra said the overall rebate for "High School" — a high school stoner movie primarily shot at the Howell Public Schools Parker Campus in Marion Township late last year — averaged around 30 percent.

The Steam Experiment,' starring Val Kilmer, to debut in Grand Rapids on May 5

By John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press | April 08, 2009

"The Steam Experiment," which filmed in Grand Rapids in September, will show locally at Celebration Cinema North starting May 5.

Rick Hert, director of the West Michigan Film Office, said the first screening will be invite-only, for local cast and crew members, with "some general showings after that."

He said the screenings will benefit the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance.

"The people at Celebration have been terrific about helping us arrange the fundraisers," Hert said.

More details are yet to be announced.

"Steam" stars Val Kilmer and Armand Assante and was directed by Philippe Martinez, head of Georgia-based Cinepro Pictures. The Cinepro Web site currently teases a $25 million-budgeted thriller titled "Tribes of October" as Martinez's next project.

At the "Steam" premiere at the Gasparilla Film Festival in Tampa, Fla. in March, the director said he was considering bringing the project to Grand Rapids, but no details have been made public yet.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Editorial: Don't pan Michigan's movie law yet

by Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board | April 06, 2009

State lawmakers need to see the full picture before editing the tax incentives for film makers. Senate measures that would reduce the tax credit and cap the total amount of credits given among other changes are premature. The film incentives law has only been in effect a year. It's too early to determine whether there's been so little economic benefit to the state that the incentives should be cut. Michigan clearly has made inroads into the motion picture industry and that bodes well for diversifying the economy. Flipping the script now could kill momentum. The Legislature should give the law more time.

Film industry incentives provide up to a 42 percent refundable tax credit for film or media entertainment projects in Michigan. The nation's most lucrative tax incentives did draw economic activity and jobs. The package has states including California rethinking their incentives to compete with Michigan. The new law is popular with producers, financing box office hits such as Clint Eastwood's Oscar-nominated "Gran Torino" and smaller flicks. The film was planned for Minnesota. The tax break is very generous, so it's certainly understandable why some lawmakers are concerned the incentives won't offset program expense. But the state is trying to lay a foundation for a new industry. The incentives are estimated to cost $100 million this year, and $200 million in 2010.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

West Branch movie could be a possibility says Michigan producer

By Eric Young | Ogemaw County Herald | April 5, 2009

WEST BRANCH — Over the past year, the West Branch Area Film Assoc-iation has been working to try to bring film crews to Ogemaw County to shoot a feature film. And, according to Michigan movie producer and director Rich Brauer, they’re on the right track.

“West Branch has a lot to offer, as does a lot of Michigan communities,” Brauer said. “The difference here is the enthusiasm and excitement, from students to seniors.”

Brauer, president of Brauer Productions in Traverse City, was in town April 4 to lead a workshop on writing screenplays for the upcoming West Branch Children’s Film Festival in July. He said if hard work gets rewarded, he wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see a feature film come to the West Branch area.

As a matter of fact, he said, he might have a couple in the works that could fit the area nicely.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Evening with Michael Moore

By Anton Anderssen

Academy Award-winning American filmmaker, author and liberal political commentator Michael Moore will be speaking at the Democratic Club of Taylor on May 2 at a fundraiser supporting Michigan Peace Team. He is the director and producer of Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko, three of the top five highest-grossing documentaries of all time. Born and raised in Davisburg, Moore attended the University of Michigan – Flint, and never lost touch with his Michigan roots. When Michael Moore speaks, people listen.

The Lansing-based Michigan Peace Team was founded in 1993 by Father Peter Dougherty and a handful of his friends. “While working on nuclear disarmament strategies, the first Gulf war began, bringing with it carpet bombing in Iraq. Our goal was to go to Iraq and put our bodies in the way, to help deter the bombing. We went to Bosnia during the four years’ war there, and we’ve also worked domestically in places where hate groups have surfaced,” said Father Dougherty.

 “Michigan Peace Team is committed to promoting non-violent alternatives to militarism and violence through empowered peacemaking,” said Kimberly Redigan, one of the co-chairs of the Evening with Michael Moore. “We place well-trained domestic and international peace teams in areas of conflict, and we also offer nonviolence trainings and educational programs on a variety of topics related to nonviolence.”
In addition to Bosnia and Iraq, MPT has placed teams in Chiapas, Mexico, Israel/Palestine, and the U.S.-Mexican border. Closer to home, MPT has placed violence reduction teams at the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the Gay Pride Fest in Lansing, a Klan rally in Ann Arbor, and the 2009 Republican Convention in Minneapolis.

 “We are grounded in the spirituality of non-violence, namely nurturing the interconnectedness between all people and all things,” explained Father Dougherty.  “We reach out the humanness of the adversary. We go humbly into other communities, walking with the people who are suffering in given conflicts.”
The Michael Moore event is a fundraiser to further MPT’s work for a more just and peaceful world.  The dinner and program, including a silent auction, is scheduled for 6:00-9:00 P.M. at a cost of $50 per person. Attendees are also invited to attend a pre-program wine and cheese reception with Michael Moore from 4:30 – 6:00 at a cost of $100. Donations over $18 per person are tax deductible.

For further information about “An Evening with Michael Moore” or to reserve a seat or table  visit

For more information, contact Kim at 313-520-7465 or Liz at

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Films offer flicker of hope for state

April 2, 2009 |

Not many can argue that this state is in need of more jobs, revenue and respect. The film incentives rolled out in 2008 encourage Hollywood filmmakers to “Say yes to Michigan” and assist in securing all three. With one of the most competitive tax incentives at 42 percent, our state and local economy has already begun to reap the benefits of film production. According to the Michigan Film Office, 71 projects have been approved, with 37 films already complete.

Legislation introduced early this week could change that. The need to retain this incentive and not cap the credit is very apparent. Since the inception of the incentive in 2008, a flurry of activity has brought $125 million to our state. It has also provided the opportunity for:

n Creating jobs and retaining talent. Several universities are realigning their curriculums to prepare and train students for emerging jobs. Wayne State University has added new production broadcasting and animation courses and Madonna University built a $20 million science and media building that is planned to open this fall.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rockford Chamber hosts luncheon series

Rockford Independent | April 1, 2009

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce will feature Rick Hert as part of its bi-monthly Luncheon Series. Hert is executive director of the West Michigan Tourist Association and he will be discussing the West Michigan film industry and the impact it will have on the Michigan economy.

The event will take place on Monday, April 13 from noon-1:30 p.m. at the North Kent Golf Course, located at 11029 Stout Ave. The course owners, Dave and Kathey Klein, are excited to be hosting the event and Kathey is planning a special lunch designed to delight the guest's taste buds.

Please RSVP by Friday, April 10 by e-mailing Jeannie at membership@ or call (616) 866-2000 with your reservation. Cost for the event is $15 for chamber members and $20 for non-members. Please note, if you are unable to attend the luncheon and have reserved a spot, call the chamber office before the luncheon to avoid being charged.

The luncheons provide significant networking opportunities, so guests are urged to bring plenty of business cards to share.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Roll credits on film tax rebate?

Monday, March 30, 2009 - MiBiz

WEST MICHIGAN - Lured to Michigan last year by promises of lucrative tax incentives, film production companies now worry they might not see the tax rebate they were promised.

The Department of Treasury says "not to worry," but that hasn’t stopped the companies from questioning whether they’ll get their refund checks or not, according to Karl Butterer, who heads the entertainment law division at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge.

The way legislation works, a film production company has to first be qualified by the state. Once qualified, they must record the money spent on direct production expenditures in a given year and obtain a post-production certificate from Treasury, then file a tax return and wait for the refund. Treasury has three to four weeks to send the rebate.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Helpers sought for Kalamazoo animation festival

With more than 70 events planned so far for the fifth Kalamazoo Animation Festival International, Kalamazoo Valley Community College is looking for a cadre of faculty, staff, students and residents to serve as volunteers and help make the four-day event in downtown Kalamazoo a success.

Slated for May 14-17, the festival has attracted 555 submissions of animation from 42 countries in the competition for $15,000 in prize money. The finalists will be viewable in a series of screenings during the festival, while professional animators from the major production studios and networks will be leading workshops and seminars.

*This is a great opportunity for any person interested in animation, film or any aspect of creative work,* says Anna Barnhart, the festival*s volunteer coordinator. *Volunteers will witness a major industry event taking shape as well as meet many big players in the expanding field of animation.*

Those who volunteer will act as greeters, runners, ticket takers, workshop monitors, gallery guides, and special-event helpers, Barnhart said. They will receive a free ticket to attend a seminar, screening or panel discussion for each four hours that they work.

Students must be at least 16 to become a volunteer. The four-hour time slots on that Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are 8 a.m. to noon, noon to 4 p.m., 4 to 8 p.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.

Orientation sessions in the college's Anna Whitten Hall are scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Monday, May 4, at the same time. The deadline to sign up as volunteer is April 20.

For more information and an application form, visit:, or contact Barnhart or Nikki Unterkircher at, or by phone at (269) 373-7934.

Regional Executive Director of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to Speak in Grand Rapids on April 6

Monday, April 6, 2009, 7 - 9pm
Doors open at 6:30pm

If you have wondered how to become a SAG member, negotiate with SAG to produce a film, or why you should even wonder about SAG at all, put this night on your calendar to get the answers!

Marcia Fishman, SAG Executive Director of Detroit and Philadelphia Branches (covering Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware and south Jersey) wants to meet you and build SAG in West Michigan!

She will be speaking on the following topics:

· Positive reasons for a relationship between film community of West Michigan and Screen Actors Guild

· The implications of west Michigan actors becoming SAG members

· What SAG contracts are available to west Michigan producers, i.e. low budget, new media, short, student (most of which include little to deferred payment options)?

· Concerns of Hollywood and New York productions in an area with little or no SAG membership, and how concerns can be handled.

Followed by general Q & A.

Location: Applied Technology Center, Rooms 118/120, Ferris Grand Rapids Campus, 151 Fountain NE, corner of Fountain and Ransom Streets, Downtown Grand Rapids

FREE to Members of West Michigan Film Video Alliance (WMFVA) or $10 for non-members (students $5 w/ valid ID)

Don't Cap Movie Tax Breaks Unless You Want to Kill the New Industry Before It Takes Hold


If you can name one other Michigan business that grew from $2 million to around $125 million last year -- in the worst economy since the Depression -- I'll shut up.

If you can name one other Michigan business that, in its baby stages, elicited plans for $140 million in new studio investments, I'll keep quiet.

If you can name one other Michigan business that created this much excitement and this many people scurrying to learn new skills, I'll stand down.

But if you can't, then maybe you should be the one to cool your jets.

I'm talking about Michigan's movie business.

And I'm talking to state Sen. Nancy Cassis.

Friday, March 27, 2009

An odd couple? Detroit Hip Hop and Michigan Film

The Examiner | March 27, 2009

Abnormal. Strange. Weird. Those are terms that come to mind when someone compares oddities. Contrasting the Detroit Hip Hop scene with the Michigan Film industry, and those terms seem extreme. Without deep analysis, the two essentially are like peanut butter and jelly. Music and film are definitely separate entities within their own right, but when was the last time you watched a film without a musical soundtrack? To separate music and film is, as Oran "Juice" Jones put it, “like cornflake without da milk!” Okay, so that is extreme but we know all too well how music video revolutionized the way we look at our favorite stars—good or bad.

Today’s music is fueled by imagery depending on which side is exposed: flossy, struggling, conscious, party, grimy…the list goes on. Now that many are mobilized— whether it is with the equipment or with the knowledge and know-how, artists are engaging in visual art forms that showcase their musical talent. This phenomenon has penetrated the musical landscape beyond the Detroit classics, “The Scene ”, or “The New Dance Show ”. Nowadays you can catch hot shows such as the Kori's Corner, Al Nuke's Nuke at Night, or the highly anticipated newcomer, “The Mr. CliffNote Show ”.

State Senate debates reduction in film industry tax credits

By Chris Killian 3/27/09 3:14 PM
Michigan is the most generous state in the nation when it comes to providing tax incentives to movie production companies looking for places to shoot films.

But the state’s 42 percent tax break, established in 2008, could be reduced under two bills being debated in the state Senate.

According to the Capital News Service, under the measures, the tax break would be reduced to 35 percent. Also, tax credits would be capped at $50 million per year for all films produced in Michigan.

“The money we give out for film tax credit is money that could’ve gone to universities, parks, the Great Lakes, prisoner maintenance or other publicly funded things,” Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, a co-sponsor of the measures, told the news service.

Where is Michael Moore? Not at the Michigan Film Office meeting

By Sue White | The Saginaw News | March 27, 2009

Michael Moore didn't show up.

I had many reasons to look forward to the Michigan Film Office's meeting with its advisory council, held March 19 at Saginaw's Temple Theatre, and catching up with Moore, a council member, was one of them.

Years ago, before he started making films, we worked together on a few projects. The night I remember best was spent at a Chinese restaurant with Amanda McBroom, who wrote the song "The Rose," and Tom Chapin, the late Harry Chapin's brother.

Moore invited me to the "Roger and Me" premiere, and to both of talk-show host Phil Donahue's visits to Flint -- didn't I tell you it was a long time ago? Through it all, Moore was always just a call or two away.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Women in Film & Television Membership Drive

Michigan Film Production Opportunities
Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Tango’s Restaurant -Westin Hotel

Ladies, this is your opportunity to join Detroit WIFTV (Michigan’s Chapter) and learn about the organization, its benefits and join up. It’s not about the numbers it’s about creating and maintaining a presence in this industry.

Michigan is finally back on the map with the great incentives and Hollywood knocking down our door, don’t miss your chance to be a part of this growing industry. Learn about education, resources, events and why you should be a member.

This event is free. Appetizers 6-7p *Bring your coupon WIFTV flyer and take 15% off Membership Fees. You MUST RSVP- (Name & Email)

Tango’s Restaurant is located in the Westin Hotel, 1500 Town Center Drive, Southfield, MI.

Want to be in a movie? Now's your chance

By: Joe Borlik | CM Life (Central Michigan University) | March 25, 2009

Mount Pleasant resident Jim McBryde will never forget his role in two Star Wars movies.

McBryde sat in Dex's Diner in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" and played Ulfor Bombaasa, a patron in the Galaxies Opera House in "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith."

"It was a really great experience," he said. "I had an opportunity not a lot of people will get."

It was something McBryde did for fun - he even kept his paychecks as souvenirs.

Some in Mich. Senate want to cap film incentives

By KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN | Associated Press Writer | March 25, 2009

LANSING, Mich. - Some state senators want to cap the tax incentives Michigan offers to moviemakers and require that more workers hired by them be from Michigan.

Legislation introduced Wednesday would reduce Michigan's refundable movie tax credit, now 40 percent to 42 percent, down to 35 percent of the amount of a production company's qualified expenditures that are incurred in producing a motion picture or other media entertainment project in Michigan.

The measures would limit the amount of credits to $50 million a year and expand a credit for building permanent facilities, such as sound stages, to 30 percent rather than 25 percent. They also would add a credit that would be given for producing national advertisements in Michigan that cost at least $250,000.,0,7596526.story

Proposed Cap on Film Incentives

The Associated Press | March 25, 2009

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Some state senators want to cap the tax
incentives Michigan offers to moviemakers.

Legislation introduced Wednesday would reduce Michigan’s
refundable movie tax credit from 42 percent to 35 percent, limit
the amount of credits to $50 million a year and increase another

Some Republicans proposed similar measures last year but didn’t
get far. A Democratic senator is concerned the state can’t afford
the incentives while facing budget problems.

The Senate’s GOP majority leader says he isn’t interested in
limiting tax credits if they’re stimulating the economy.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm and others also say the tax breaks are
working very well.

Filming expenditures went from $2 million to more than $100
million a year after the law was signed.

Filmmaker may be coming back

WOOD TV8 | March 25, 2009

Its been almost a year since Governor Granholm signed the state’s film incentives into law. A panel discussion today in Grand Rapids focused on the benefits of those tax incentives for Michigan’s film industry.

Four industry officials discussed the history and the future of the state’s tax breaks that brought 35 projects, 28-hundred jobs and 25-million dollars to the state last year.

Nearly a year into the incentives, Ken Droz from the Michigan Film Office says ”ideally, we’d like to think the program can run its course and be allowed to have time to breathe and to mature and for the entire industry to gets its legs before any major changes are being done to it.”

The panelists agreed that while the state is staying ahead of other states like New Mexico and Louisiana, more work has to be done to build infrastructure and train workers.

Dori DePree, Head of Education Outreach for TicTock Studios says that Michigan’s blue collar work force can be trained to fill the jobs “so its not that we’re training people to do new things, its just saying this is what you’ve already done, this is what you know how to do, and hopefully you love to do, you can do this on a film as well.”

Ken Droz from the Michigan Film Office says a “major filmmaker who came last year is thinking about coming again next year”.

Clint Eastwood?? Drew Barrymore?? No further comments or details were offered.

That news today out of a panel discussion on tax incentives and the Michigan Film Industry.

Will The Stars Still Come Out In Michigan?

WLNS TV | March 25, 2009

State Senator Nancy Cassis, R - Novi: "It's all about jobs. And we want to see permanent jobs here."

Some state senators want to cut the tax incentives for movie makers coming to Michigan.

The incentives have been in place for nearly a year, and they're credited with bringing dozens of film makers and millions of dollars into the state.

But some lawmakers say those tax credits are too costly and don't create permanent jobs.

Ann Emmerich tells us what they're proposing.

Some state senators want to limit tax incentives for moviemakers

By KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN • Associated Press • March 25, 2009

Some state senators want to cap the tax incentives Michigan offers to moviemakers and require that more workers hired by them be from Michigan.

Legislation introduced today would reduce Michigan’s refundable movie tax credit, now 40% to 42%, down to 35% of the amount of a production company’s qualified expenditures that are incurred in producing a motion picture or other media entertainment project in Michigan.

The measures would limit the amount of credits to $50 million a year and expand a credit for building permanent facilities, such as sound stages, to 30% rather than 25%. They also would add a credit that would be given for producing national advertisements in Michigan that cost at least $250,000.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Editorial: See ya in the movies

By Paula J. Holmes-Greeley | March 22, 2009

West Michigan is well cast as a site for Michigan's budding film industry.

The lakes, farmland and beaches offer the beauty of a leading lady while the urban centers are perfect action figures.

The USS Silversides, already a movie star; LST-393, Lake Express ferry, Michigan's Adventure, Muskegon County Airport and Frauenthal Theater all have potential for cameo appearances along with our numerous historic lighthouses and grand lumber baron homes.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Different organizations disagree

By Terry Camp

No doubt about it, big-time movie stars are coming to Michigan.

Within recent months, Clint Eastwood, Drew Barrymore and George Clooney have come to the state.

But are the tax credits given to movie makers to entice them to our state really helping the economy, or just a neat special effect?

The Michigan Film Office Advisory Council held its bi-monthly meeting in Saginaw, and while they were here, they had to fend off some criticism from a conservative research institute.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Film festival to showcase region's talent

By JESSE DUNSMORE | Times Herald |

Richard DeShon Jr., co-owner of local talent agency The Thespis Group, believes there are plenty of filmmakers in Michigan, and he wants them to come to Port Huron.

The Thespis Group is organizing the first Blue Water Film Festival, a showcase of movies put together by Michigan and Sarnia residents -- and no one else.

"We want to promote Michigan (and) give the individuals a chance who otherwise wouldn't think they'd have a chance of winning," DeShon said. "Otherwise, you'd have people from New York or California submitting films and this is what they do for a living, as opposed to individuals coming out of college, coming out of high school, even."

MSU study finds film industry big hit in Michigan

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan State University study has found that the state of Michigan’s law providing tax credits for film production companies that shoot their movies in Michigan is a big-time hit.

The study, conducted by MSU’s Center for Economic Analysis, found that in 2008, 32 film productions were completed, generating more than $65 million in spending and creating more than 2,700 jobs. And this was just in the eight months since the law was enacted in April of 2008.

“It’s amazing how much activity we had in such a short period of time,” said Steven Miller, CEA director and director of the study. “Many of these projects had already established they were going somewhere else, but quickly changed gears and moved to Michigan when they learned of the tax incentives.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Detroit news briefs: Panel to feature filmmaker, actors

Compiled by Joe Rossiter and other Free Press staff • March 18, 2009

Panel to feature filmmaker, actors

Filmmaker-actor Lonette McKee and Philip Johnson, star of the Lifetime film "America," parts of which were shot in Detroit, are to participate in a panel discussion Thursday at the Detroit Film Office's first educational symposium on Michigan's growing film industry.

The event is to be from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers Road.

The symposium is cosponsored by the film office and the city's Small Business Detroit Microloan Program. The symposium is designed to educate residents and small-business owners in the city on how to prepare for opportunities in the Michigan film industry.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

“Fahrenheit 9/11” & "Bowling for Columbine” Co-Producer Jeff Gibbs to Speak March 19 in Grand Rapids

West Michigan Film Video Alliance (WMFVA) presents producer Jeff Gibbs, co-producer and composer for “Fahrenheit 9/11” for a 2-hour seminar on Thursday, March 19 at the Applied Technology Center Auditorium, Ferris Campus (151 Fountain NE, corner of Fountain and Ransom Streets, Downtown Grand Rapids).

Jeff will discuss elements that every filmmaker should consider, by showing clips from some of the films he has worked on, including: “Fahrenheit 9/11” “Bowling for Columbine” “Sharkwater” “Shut Up and Sing” (Dixie Chicks) “Trouble the Water” (Current Oscar nominee by “Fahrenheit” producers)

Doors open at 6:30pm. Seminar time is 7-9pm. Open to the public. FREE for WMFVA members ($10 for non-members, $5 for students with valid ID). Details

Detroit Filmmakers Symposium

Hollywood is calling to Michigan

By Sue White | The Saginaw News | March 15, 2009

"I really have nothing to say about that film," Janet Lockwood said of "Terror at Baxter U," laughing at the memory of the roundly panned 2003 horror film.

"I was only in it because a friend wrote it, and the whole experience convinced me to go back to what I loved, acting on stage."

Fortunately for Michigan, though, it didn't sour Lockwood on what she's done best for the past 17 years, pitching the state to potential filmmakers. And since April 2008, when Michigan began offering tax incentives up to 42 percent to those shooting their films here, she hasn't had much time to do anything else.

Local investment firm considers Hollywood films

By Jay M. Grossman • ECCENTRIC STAFF WRITER • March 15, 2009

Joel Eisenstein wants to make a hit movie in Michigan.

The Hollywood deal maker is with the All Cities Media Group, a Los Angeles film networking organization that helped finance The Hulk and other summer blockbusters. He's meeting next month with O'Keefe Investment Banking in Bloomfield Hills to consider forming a local partnership.

Eisenstein said it will be the first time ACMG set foot outside of Southern California. If the deal works, it could end up paving the way for hundreds of millions of potential investment dollars for the Michigan film industry.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bringing Hollywood To Mid-Michigan?

WNEM | March 13, 2009

SAGINAW, Mich. -- Mid-Michigan communities are hoping they can survive the slump by attracting Hollywood to their towns.

But is it a pipe dream trying to compete with Detroit and larger communities in the state? One key question on the minds of citizens is the possibility that the state will benefit from an influx of filmmaking.

Talk about a Michigan slice of life -- a film about ice fishing, "Frozen Stupid," starring Ernest Borgnine was filmed in Houghton Lake. That was back in 2006, just before Michigan started touting itself as a moviemaker destination point.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Filmmaking studios expected to thrive in West Michigan

By Eric Gaertner | The Muskegon Chronicle | March 12, 2009

The growing film industry in West Michigan is taking advice from "The Field of Dreams" movie.

"If you build it, he will come." In this case, the "it" are movie studios and the "he" are million-dollar movies.

Area supporters of movie-making are touting plans for major film studio facilities in West Michigan as being among the key components to attracting more film productions. Two of those facilities, WaterMark Studios in Muskegon and 10 West Studios in Manistee, along with similar infrastructure projects in Grand Rapids and Holland, could become the backbone for the industry in West Michigan.

West Michigan colleges training students for careers in filmmaking

By Eric Gaertner | The Muskegon Chronicle | March 12, 2009

The adult students in the Film Production Training Program are getting the most real-life, hands-on experience possible.

They will be getting credit on an actual movie for their work.

The 30 trainees, some who are unemployed and looking for a new career, are constructing a movie set depicting a restaurant basement that will be used for an upcoming children's comedy adventure film. The movie is scheduled to be shot in Manistee this year.

Michigan Based Director Premiers Film

By Woody Miller | March 12, 2009

Where would a person with a degree in mechanical engineering and assorted theatrical experience go to become a successful film maker? Sam Kadi never left Michigan. After garnering fifteen years of experience as a theatrical actor, writer, and director he graduated as a film director from Motion Picture Institute of Michigan in 2007. His first musical short film ” Your Choice” was made in 2006 and screened at a dinner to raise funds for education. The film helped to raise 3.8 million dollars that night. “Your Choice” was also aired on Public Television in Farmington and Novi. Kadi’s first narrative film “Schizophrenia” was completed in September 2007 and was screened on October 2nd by Emagine Entertainment in Novi during the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan (MPI) Film Festival. It was nominated for Best Director.

Director Sam Kadi is following up his film, “Schizophrenia” with “Raised Alone”, a new film that represents Michigan’s film industry in a dramatic way. Kadi’s short film is the first to be approved for the state film tax incentives by a Michigan-based director.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Michigan Film Incentives update: Michigan Film Office publishes annual report

Posted by John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press March 11, 2009

The Michigan Film Office in Lansing recently published its annual report for 2008, listing the 35 projects shot in the state last year, and it includes some compelling numbers:

$125,000,000: Total Michigan expenditures on the 35 productions

2,800: Estimated jobs created

$47,992,000: Film industry refundable tax credits

Film incentives expected to grow jobs in region, state

By Eric Gaertner | The Muskegon Chronicle | March 11, 2009

Michigan's film incentive package, widely considered the most aggressive in the country, is producing Oscar-worthy results.

Nearly a year old, the film production tax credit is generating excitement among the state's movie fans, economic activity in places where the films are shot and job opportunities at a time when unemployment is a dire concern. Despite the state's budget concerns and some calls for a cap from critics, the film tax incentive seems to be one of the bright spots for the state's immediate future, based on a recent study of its impact by Michigan State University.

"It's been really cool," said Ken Droz, manager of creative and communications at Michigan Film Office. "There's a lot of hope and enthusiasm."

West Michigan stepping into the movie-making spotlight

By Eric Gaertner | The Muskegon Chronicle | March 11, 2009

When Mitchell Nyberg returned to West Michigan in 2000 after spending 17 years working in the San Francisco film industry, he saw the area in a whole new light.

Nyberg, 49, of Hart Township, now sees the variety of locations and the area's unique qualities as providing a gold mine for movie settings.

Filmmakers are beginning to see those traits here, as well.

The area's ability to provide various backdrops for movies, coupled with the state's aggressive film incentives, is sparking a high level of interest in making movies in West Michigan.

Mott Community College in Flint offers classes to put unemployed to work in film business

By Sally York | The Flint Journal | March 09, 2009

FLINT, Michigan -- Looking for a job? How about behind the scenes in Michigan's suddenly booming film industry. Mott Community College is offering four new classes that could get you started.

Students who complete one or more of the courses -- ranging from how to rig lights to how to behave on a film set -- qualify for such entry-level crew positions as grip (equipment handler) or production assistant.

From there, the sky is the limit.

Hire Michigan first law?

By CHARLES CRUMM | The Oakland Press | March 10, 2009

A proposed movie studio in Pontiac is projected to create some 3,500 jobs and state House Democrats want those jobs to go to Michigan residents.

Democratic lawmakers on Monday used GM’s shuttered Truck Product Central Center in Pontiac as the backdrop for proposed Hire Michigan First legislation.

The Democratic-controlled state House wants to pass the measure this week that would give companies state economic incentives to hire 100 percent Michigan workers.

They said the Republican-controlled Senate should move quickly to pass it, too.

“Pontiac is one of the communities that have been devastated by job losses,” said state Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, whose district includes Pontiac. “We want to make sure Michigan workers get hired first.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The work force: Film work takes unique skill set

By Doug Stites • CEO, Capital Area Michigan Works • March 9, 2009

Last week, Hollywood was the word on the street in Greater Lansing, as a result of a new training partnership between Capital Area Michigan Works, Lansing Community College and Michigan State University to train people to become production assistants, an entry-level position on a film set.

Film jobs are unlike anything we've ever seen in the work force development system. To be successful in this industry, you need a unique personality and skill set. For those who have what it takes, however, film can be a lucrative and exciting career path.

So what does it take?

'The Genesis Code' looking for local crew members

By John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press | March 09, 2009

"The Genesis Code," the latest film to be shot in West Michigan under the Michigan film incentives, is hosting an open call for crew members.

Jerry Zandstra, vice president of American Saga Productions, e-mailed me this information:

"'The Genesis Code' movie is crewing up for an April 20 principal photography start date with pre-production starting March 30 in Grand Rapids. Please send electronic submissions to You MUST include in the subject line the position you are applying for."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Filmmaker gives Michigan's incentives 4 stars


He isn't paying much attention to the debate smoldering behind the scenes of the state's nearly year-old film incentives, but Sam Kadi can tell you they have helped him immensely.

Kadi's been making movies in Michigan the past few years -- his newest short film "Raised Alone" is to make its debut at the Maple Theatre in Birmingham on March 24.

The effort, the latest from his company, Samer K Productions Inc., is one of the first to take advantage of Michigan's film incentives intended to provide a more attractive business climate for moviemakers with a goal of more jobs for a state in desperate need of nonautomotive business.

Job seekers aim to get ready for 'Action!'

By Bill Shea | Crain's Detroit | March 8, 2009

The glitz, glamour and greenbacks of the burgeoning Michigan movie industry are an attractive oasis in a state economy otherwise hemorrhaging jobs.

Whether that oasis is an actual career sanctuary or an exasperating mirage is dependent on the willingness, patience and dedication of prospective film industry job seekers, but also on factors beyond their control.

That's the view of longtime movie industry veterans as they witness film “boot camps” popping up seemingly every week and more and more Hollywood productions filming in Michigan to take advantage of the new tax incentives that rebate as much as 42 cents of every production dollar spent here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And action: Film crews for movie turn camera on Dexter, Chelsea

By Terry Jacoby and Sean Dalton | March 5, 2009

Tuesday was a hectic day at Dexter High School as staff and students planned their busy day around the filming of the upcoming, unnamed Hillary Swank film based on the Betty Anne Waters story.

Parents were told via e-mail on Friday to make different arrangements if they needed to get into the high school after 9 a.m. - the scheduled start time for the filming

The main office and entrance to the school were supposed be closed for filming during the day, but the filming was running behind schedule and the start of filming was pushed back to 3 p.m. as of mid day Tuesday.

School to get workers ready for Hollywood

By Maureen McDonald / Special to The Detroit News ? March 5, 2008

HUNTINGTON WOODS -- Almost 150 students have signed up for premier classes offered by the Center for Film Studies at locations in Ferndale, Farmington Hills, Warren and Troy starting next week. The klieg lights are shining on the possibility of paychecks in the Michigan film industry.

"A lot of talented people are looking for new kinds of work and we have the kind of programs that will make them employable," said Mort Meisner, the Huntington Woods-based executive director and president of the film school, who has worked in television recruiting for 32 years. He joins Jack Grushko, COO, and Kim Haveraneck, director of education, a couple that also run a culinary business in Bloomfield Township. Together they expect to train more than 500 students in the first year.

Residents clamor to get Michigan movie jobs rolling


Word that Hollywood studios are planning to open shop in metro Detroit has drawn surging interest from layoff-weary Michiganders.

Janet Lockwood, director of the Michigan Film Office, was losing her voice Wednesday from taking so many inquiries.

Hundreds of former autoworkers and others in need of work were calling the Free Press this week after the paper ran stories about the studio projects.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Officials not sold on film tax incentive

By Christopher Behnan • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • March 4, 2009

Some Michigan officials contend the state's film tax incentive caused far more than $50 million to leave the state and created far fewer than 2,800 jobs in 2008, despite findings of the Michigan Film Office.

On Monday, the Film Office submitted a three-page report that states the program — which rebates up to 42 percent of a production's expenditures in Michigan — will issue nearly $50 million in film incentive tax rebates for 35 films completed during 2008.

Those 35 film productions spent $125 million in Michigan and created 2,800 jobs, the report states.

Film Studios In Michigan

WILX | March 4, 2009

The Michigan Film Office says filmmakers qualified for $48 million in payments from the state during the first 10 months of an incentive program enacted last year.
A report obtained by the Detroit Free Press says about $125 million was spent on the projects. However, an economic analysis commissioned by the film office and submitted to the Legislature this week said project spending totaled only $65.4 million.

The report says the 35 projects, including 22 feature films, provided about 2,800 jobs.

The report doesn't mention how the film incentives are affecting the state budget. State economists have cautioned that new economic activity generated by the incentives likely won't offset the high cost of the program.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Michigan provides $48 million in film incentives

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Film Office says filmmakers qualified for $48 million in payments from the state during the first 10 months of an incentive program enacted last year.

The report obtained by the Detroit Free Press says about $125 million was spent on the projects, although an economic analysis commissioned by the film office and submitted to the Legislature this week said project spending totaled only $65.4 million.

The report says the 35 projects, including 22 feature films, provided jobs for about 2,800 people.

The report doesn't mention how the film incentives are affecting the state budget. State economists have cautioned that new economic activity generated by the incentives likely won't offset the high cost of the program.

State to give out nearly $50M in film tax rebates

By Christopher Behnan • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • March 3, 2009

The state will issue nearly $50 million in film incentive tax rebates for 35 films completed during 2008 — a list that includes “High School,” primarily filmed in Livingston County — according to a three-page Michigan Film Office report issued Monday.

Those 35 film productions spent $125 million in Michigan and created 2,800 jobs, the report states.

The report only provides these totals, rather than a break down per film, because film companies by law can request confidentiality regarding their budgets, the report states.

State puts out casting call for people to learn film jobs

By Barbara Wieland | March 3, 2009 | Lansing State Journal

Sixty people in mid-Michigan will get a start on a career in film production thanks to a grant from the state of Michigan.

The No Worker Left Behind program, a part of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, will release $195,000 to pay for the training of the workers.

Those selected into the program will receive training through a partnership between Lansing Community College, Michigan State University and Capital Area Michigan Works.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lansing's Rally of Writers conference celebrates 22 years

By Mark Wolfgang • Reader Submitted • March 2, 2009

The 22nd year of A Rally of Writers, a freelance writing conference, will take place on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at the Lansing Community College West Campus Conference Center. This day-long event begins at 8:30 a.m. and features 10 Michigan writers, poets, artists and screenwriters hosting 16 educational sessions on all aspects of writing and publishing, from basic submission and editing tips to in depth advice on fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir, photography, children's books, and comic books.

The keynote speaker for 2009 is Gerry LaFemina, poet, fiction writer and essayist. LaFemina's 9 a.m. opening session, “Strange Duality: the Social and Anti-Social Behaviors of Writers and Pleaders,” is free and open to the public courtesy of the Michigan Humanities Council and Gibson's Books and Beans.

The public is also invited to attend a free pre-Rally event at Schuler Books and Music in the Eastwood Towne Center, Friday evening, April 3, at 7 p.m., to learn about “Movies Made in Michigan.” Guest speakers, including Ken Droz of the Michigan Film Office, will discuss the growing Michigan movie industry. One special guest will be Ahney Her, the local high school student who starred opposite Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino.”

'Steam Experiment' movie shot in Grand Rapids debuts at Florida film festival

By John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press | March 02, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jimmy Pettis tilts his head back, and carousel horses go round and round, round and round.

Normally, families ride those horses at the Van Andel Museum Center. But in "The Steam Experiment," they symbolize the psychosis of a disturbed ex-professor played by Val Kilmer -- and are one of many Grand Rapids landmarks in the film shot last fall.

"Steam" debuted Sunday night at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in downtown Tampa, Fla., to a sold-out crowd.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Arrested Development film to shoot in Ypsilanti?

By Mark Maynard | February 26, 2009

I think it’s an incredible long shot, but, when my friend Arun told me today that Michael Cera, the last remaining holdout for the long-awaited Arrested Development feature film, had signed-on, my first thought was that maybe, somehow, we might be able to lure the production here to Ypsi. I know it’s a reach, seeing as how we have neither the West coast sunshine, nor the marina backdrop that viewers of the ground-breaking sitcom have come to expect, but we do have a local man with a fleet of Segways, which I’m sure he would make available to Gob, and, of course, there are those aggressive incentives for producers bringing projects to Michigan. And, there’s really no reason it couldn’t be a road movie. Maybe it already is… I haven’t seen a script.

Filming of hockey movie 'The Genesis Code' expected to benefit Grand Rapids-area economy

By John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press | February 26, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS -- A new film project hopes to pump up to $4 million into the West Michigan economy.

"The Genesis Code," a feature-length drama from American Saga Productions, was approved Tuesday for state film incentives by the Michigan Film Office in Lansing. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in mid-April.

According to Jerry Zandstra, vice president of American Saga Productions, the film's budget is between $8 million and $9.5 million. It will shoot in Lowell and Grand Rapids with "name actors that folks will recognize," he said.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Moves made for more movies

BY STEFANIE MURRAY | The Ann Arbor News | February 25, 2009

The fledgling Washtenaw County movie industry last year generated about $1 million in local economic impact from the three movies filmed locally, and tourism officials hope that figure will more than double in the coming year.

As many as five films are expected here in the next 12 months, generating an estimated $2.4 million in economic impact, said Mary Kerr, president of the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

During the group's annual meeting Tuesday, tourism officials said they are focused on making this area a go-to spot for Hollywood producers taking advantage of Michigan's tax breaks for filmmakers.

Ann Arbor Convention Bureau seeing stars, as in Hollywood movies

By Stefanie Murray | The Ann Arbor News | February 25, 2009

As many as five films are expected here this year, generating an estimated $2.4 million in economic impact, Mary Kerr, president of the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, told the group's annual meeting Tuesday. The bureau is focusing its efforts on making this area a go-to spot for Hollywood producers taking advantage of Michigan's tax breaks for filmmakers.

Additional revenue coming into the bureau from the recently increased hotel room accommodations tax will help fund the new initiatives, which include increased advertising, film scout hosting and becoming a member of the Association of Film Commissioners International.

L.A. scrambling to bring back film crews

By Rick Orlov, Contra Consta Times | February 25, 2009

Facing a sharp decline in the shooting of big-budget productions in Los Angeles, city officials are considering hiring a "film czar" to promote their interests with the multibillion-dollar entertainment industry.

Just three major films - those with budgets more than $75 million - are scheduled to be shot in L.A. this year, city officials said.


Michigan last year approved a lucrative package of incentives that includes cash refunds of 40 percent or more to studios that spend more than $50,000 on production in the state. Since then, the Michigan Film Office has approved incentives for 73 productions, compared to three in 2007.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The new film industry in Michigan | Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mitch Albom from the Detroit Free Press offers great rationale for Michigan's government to offer incentives to movie companies to make movies in Michigan. The famous movie Gran Torino was filmed in Michigan because of these incentives.

This is great analysis and if you care about Michigan's economy or the movie business in general, please watch these short clips.

Freep building eyed for film jobs

Louis Aguilar | The Detroit News | February 24, 2009

The new owners of the former Free Press building are looking to convert the abandoned newspaper offices into a production studio that will tap into the state's burgeoning film industry.

Go to the Web site of Motor City Film Works and the new company lists its address as 321 W. Lafayette Blvd. and displays an image of the old Free Press building, which has been empty for several years.

"We intend to turn the former printing press area into a sound stage. That's 80,000-square-feet of space," said Richard Gerber, 46, of Troy, who owns a technology firm called Intelegen Inc.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Grand Rapids hits big screen in 'The Steam Experiment' on Sunday, but no time set for West Michigan screenings

By John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press | February 23, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS -- "The Steam Experiment" is hitting the big screen soon -- but not necessarily at a theater near you.

The thriller starring Val Kilmer and Armand Assante, shot in Grand Rapids last fall, will make its debut Sunday night at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Fla., the neighborhood of the film's Clearwater-based production company, Cinepro Pictures.

As for a local screening of the film, producer Luc Campeau said it's in the works.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tax breaks lure Hollywood to Michigan, but Grand Rapids yet to land big movie star

By John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press | February 22, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS -- Clint Eastwood. George Clooney. Hilary Swank -- all Oscar winners who have shot or will shoot films in the Detroit area.

But what about Grand Rapids? When it comes to Michigan's budding movie business, the state seems sharply divided: Detroit -- where the majority of film projects have landed -- and everywhere else.

Add the recent announcement of three studios to be built in Detroit, Plymouth and Pontiac, and West Michiganders may be wondering, why not us?

Red Carpet Ready Event to Celebrate Academy Awards

WZZM 13 | February 22, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The 81st Annual Academy Award Show airs tonight on WZZM 13. While you can watch the show from the comfort of your own home, why not consider gettind dressed up and head out to an Oscar night event in Grand Rapids. This evening is the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance's Red Carpet Ready event.

This year's event theme is the Roaring 20's. Guests are encouraged to dress the part. There will be a contest for the best costume. In addition to the contests there will be a cash bar, food, and a special gift bag. Another surprise? The guest emcee is our very own Stephanie Webb.

The Red Carpet Ready event begins at 8 p.m. and lasts until midnight at the Amway Grand Hotel. Tickets are $70 for members, $100 for non-members, and $40 for students.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Welcome to our neighborhoods: Three student teams to present their video documentaries

By Stephanie Esters | Kalamazoo Gazette | February 18, 2009

KALAMAZOO -- The community is invited to see video documentaries Thursday night that were filmed in three Kalamazoo neighborhoods by 15 Kalamazoo high school students.

The students spent six weeks last summer interviewing and filming their parents, neighbors and community leaders as they talked about education, The Kalamazoo Promise scholarship program, their struggles, hopes and dreams. The students were supervised by several Western Michigan University and University of Michigan film students and a graduate student from Western's Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations.

Hollywood in Michigan, Break into the Biz

WXYZ Webcast - February 18, 2009

Michigan is the place to be if you're looking to break into the film industry. New studios are coming to our area, there are casting calls taking place for feature films and the Michigan movie business is only growing bigger day by day.

So, how do you break into the business or land a job working at a movie studio? Get the inside scoop on Michigan's burgeoning movie industry by watching our webcast featuring three of the area's movers and shakers in the Michigan film biz!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Michael Landon Jr. directs 'The Velveteen Rabbit'; considers filming in Michigan | February 17, 2009

Michael Landon Jr. is an actor, director, writer and producer. Fame is something he's used to. He is the son of the late Michael Landon, who became famous on TV's Bonanza. Landon Jr. directed the motion picture The Velveteen Rabbit, which is set to hit theatres on February 27 and be released on DVD on March 17. Landon Jr. is also interested in selecting Michigan to shoot upcoming films.

The Hollywood director started his career as an actor on TV's Little House on the Prarie. He played the character of Jim on a single episode.

Other States Cutting into Hollywood TV, Film Jobs

Daily Breeze | February 17, 2009

It started when Clint Eastwood went to Michigan to film "Gran Torino." Since then, George Clooney, Cuba Gooding Jr., Hilary Swank and other stars have made the pilgrimage to the Wolverine State to make movies. '

Now the phones are ringing off the hook in the "Hollywood of the Midwest," where Los Angeles film and television crews are flocking to take advantage of filming incentives - something the state of California doesn't provide.

"We're not the new Hollywood," said Mark Adler, director of the Michigan Production Alliance, a trade organization that supports film and video production.