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grandmabetty78

West Michigan Film Commission

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Thoughts?

Bill aims to boost film production in Michigan

By ANDREA GOODELL Staff writer

A bill on its way to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's desk would attract film production and money to the state, supporters say.

Granholm will sign the bill within the next couple of weeks, her office said.

State Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, sponsored the bill and two similar bills that did not pass the Senate.

"Especially with the economic situation we have, this is an awesome opportunity to bring Michigan to the world and make sure that everybody understands Michigan is more than just Detroit," he said.

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Anything to break the Rust Belt stigma that's holding Michigan back.

My list of places that would make for great filming:

DT GR (Urban settings, city hall makes for )

Petosky (Makes for a nestalgic, "Lean on Me" type of movie)

Cadillac (Architypal Small Town America)

Detroit's innercity and DT (Makes a great back drop for any action movie. Wonder how the Moter city feels about Robocop? :D )

Halland's Wind Mill Island (Don't have to go the the Netherlands to satisfy scripts calling for a good windmill.)

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Uh-oh grammabetty wha'd you do wrong now (besides missing the big show Saturday...:-)

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Detroit's innercity and DT (Makes a great back drop for any action movie. Wonder how the Moter city feels about Robocop? :D )

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Michigan gets the diss alot though, for example Four Brothers was based in Detroit, but filmed in Toronto as well as the Long Kiss Goodnight. That movie wasn't about a city in Michigan in general, but we lost the production of the movie to Canada.

I think if this bill gets us to be competitive with Canada, I think we'd see a drastic increase in movies made here in state.

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Well this is a topic I can speak to with some credibility. I will apologize in advance for what will likely be a pessimistic tone.

First, the Michigan Film Office has been a pretty unproductive entity over the past decade. It has been underfunded and understaffed to say the least. It has also been the folly of some rather questionable political appointments to its board. For example, Geoffrey Feiger (of Kevorkian lawsuits fame) was (and may still be) appointed to play a role in the Film Office. That speaks volumes in my opinion.

All that being said, there are hundreds of starving or struggling wannabe film makers sprinkled around the state who harbor fantasies of "film making" and believe the production of feature films in Michigan could somehow revive the State's economy. The absolute truth is that no more than 15 percent of the total money spent on all film making in the US is dedicated to "feature" films for theatrical release. Even though we hear daily reports of multi-million dollar budgets for these films, the vast majority of dollars spent making films and videos in general goes into what the industry terms "corporate and industrial" projects.

Here is where I believe the current legislation is totally off the mark. Their aspiration is aimed entirely at attracting to Michigan one or more of the relatively small number of larger budget theatrical-release films produced each year. This is not what anyone would call a huge number of potential opportunities. And even if this succeeds in bringing a big film project or two to Michigan each year, the skilled professionals who might get hired to work on these films will still need to find a way to survive the other 44-50 weeks of the year. Even with their "big" budgets, these films just don't throw off the kind of cash that people can build year-round careers upon.

Indeed, there is a legitimate film production industry already functioning here in Michigan that exists in the "other" 85 percent of money spent on film making mentioned above. This industry works to survive on the advertising and business-to-business needs of the auto companies and other large companies based here. As such, we have state-of-the-art camera resources, studios, film labs, editing and all the other necessities for film making right here in Michigan.

And these capabilities are all, in general terms, what lawmakers would call "small to medium" sized businesses. And all these "small to medium" sized businesses are struggling with the same issues every other industry is fighting: health care costs, tax burden and economic hardship. These companies cannot afford to hire permanent staff - and this means that a huge percentage of the expertise in this biz exists in a "freelance" capacity. Translation: thousands of self-employed folks all scrounging around for work - who do not have much, if any, leverage to buy health care, pay their higher tax burden, etc.

This is where the recent legislation totally misses the mark.

While it is not nearly as sexy in the headlines, a much more helpful legislation would have 1) reduced the tax burden for the capital intensive nature of production companies who must regularly spend thousands on new equipment as technology advances, 2) helped these established production companies to more easily provide health insurance to what could become a more stable and gainfully employed work force, 3) provided assistance and relief for the sea of freelance professionals who are currently afforded little, if any, hope of securing affordable healthcare or work comp, let alone any tax relief as sole proprietors.

Bottom line? This legislation fell prey to the potential sexiness of a big-name project or two coming to Michigan for what would be a few mere weeks each year (at best). It has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to improve the every day existence of the hundreds of local professionals who would be needed to work on the one or two projects that might result from this legislation. Quite simply, the local crew people to help produce a film won't be here to work on a "big" film if broader economic disincentives prevent them from make a living the rest of the year.

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A liitle trivia. In the movie "Robocop" who's story line takes place in Detroit, the entrence to the "OCP" building is really the front facade of Dallas's City Hall Building. Extensive matt work was done to make the city hall look like a giant skyscraper.

Trivia for Robocop

Here's a picture of Dallas's city hall building.

dallas.jpg

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