film industry

Michigan Capitol Confidential

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore no longer will serve on the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council after Republican Gov. Rick Snyder named a suburban-Detroit businessman to replace him.

Moore joined the council as an appointee of then-Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Snyder announced Thursday that he was renominating a second film council member whose term was expiring along with Moore's.

Erik Helgestad / Flickr

Michigan used to have one of the most generous film incentive programs in the nation. But when Rick Snyder was elected governor, he cut way back on the film incentives.

For the 2015 fiscal year, the Michigan film incentive program got $50 million, for the third year in a row.

The director of the Michigan Film Office, Margaret O’Riley shared her thoughts about the budget.

O’Riley said the incentive is a cash incentive, versus a tax credit incentive that most states use.  She says this is better for the Legislature because they know exactly how much money is being spent.

“We continue to get a lot of kudos from the industry for having a cash incentive approach,” O’Riley said.

Right now, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are filming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in Pontiac and around Detroit. It's  Michigan’s biggest production to date, with a $131 million budget.

O’Riley said it’s important to have a mixture of big projects, like the Superman movie, and smaller projects to keep Michigan on the radar.

“I’m very proud of the fact that they often comment on the great workforce we have,” O’Riley said. “That coupled with the fact that we have such a variety of locations within a fairly short distance. You can get pretty much any kind of look you want within Michigan within just a short drive.”

There are still critics who say the incentive is a poor use of money, but O’Riley said the amount of money returned to tax payers has increased under the new cash incentive program. 

There are a number of ways to measure the money that comes in: tax dollars that go out versus tax money that comes in to replace it; tax dollars out versus production dollars invested in the state; etc. However, O’Riley said none of these are able to put a dollar value on the cool factor.

“The fact that you’ve got Mark Wahlberg on [The Tonight Show Starring] Jimmy Fallon talking about what a wonderful time he had in Detroit and that everybody in America should go to Detroit,” O’Riley said. “The fact that we’re able to say Superman was filmed in Michigan; it’s the largest production in the country right now. That’s fabulous!”

*Listen to full interview above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Doug Kline / Flickr

Attention “Breaking Bad” fans (read: almost everyone): Bryan Cranston’s latest role has a Michigan twist. 

Cranston, the 57-year-old star of “Breaking Bad” and of course, “Malcolm in the Middle,” signed on for the lead role in the new movie, “Holland, Michigan.”

Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris is expected to direct the film, a thriller centered on a family from – you guessed it – Holland.

JD Hancock Photos

The "Caped Crusader" and the "Man of Steel" are getting a handout from Michigan.

Julie Hinds of the Detroit Free Press reports Warner Brothers will get millions in tax incentives to shoot the movie in the state.

The upcoming Superman-Batman movie has been approved for the state’s film incentives, the Michigan Film Office announced today.

People in Ann Arbor and Detroit are excitedly preparing for the second annual Cinetopia International Film Festival, taking place this coming weekend.

The festival debuted in Ann Arbor last year. After a successful trial run, it's back this year and it's larger than before. Films will be screened at venues in Ann Arbor and at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit.

Judy van der Velden / Flickr

When you think of filmmaking, chances are pretty good that you think of a producer, a director and a cast chosen by that director.

But there are a couple of filmmakers in Detroit who are blowing up that traditional model of making films, and in its place have come up with something completely different.

How about 40 directors for one film? And they're spread across 23 countries on five continents?

Marty Shea is one of the Detroit-based filmmakers doing this "collaborative" movie under the name of "CollabFeature."

He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Judy van der Velden / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-led state House is looking to do away with tax incentives that lure moviemakers to Michigan so the money instead goes toward road maintenance.

The House on Tuesday stripped $25 million in tax credits it planned to set aside for the film industry.

The funding would go to the state and local governments for road repairs.

The House also cut $25 million from an economic-development fund and allocated it for roads.

The full House is expected to vote on its budget Wednesday, setting the stage for negotiations with the Senate and Gov. Rick Snyder next month.

So far the GOP-controlled Senate and governor are looking to designate at least $25 million in incentives for Hollywood - half the amount in the current budget.

Lloydpictures.com

The following is asummary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Governor Snyder's proposal to cut the state's film tax credits from $50 million to $25 million has left the Michigan filmmaking community wondering if they can keep their heads above water.

The divisive proposal has some lawmakers pledging to fight to maintain the state's current tax credits while others stand by the Governor's and say the incentive takes money away from "must-have" programs such as public safety and education.

Michael Zervos of Northville, a Michigan filmmaker, is the head of Mother and Midwife Pictures,  and is currently in pre-production for his film "Papou," which employs Michigan actors and will be filmed in Michigan.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Zervos about his concerns with Governor Snyder's proposal.

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Today on Stateside, Michiganders, you have spoken.

A new report is out today about how you think we can move the economy forward.

We'll find out more on today's show, and we'll speak to a former University President who says universities themselves might be contributing to some of the economic crunch they're facing.

But in the first part of our show, we turn to the question of just how much support the state of Michigan should give to the film industry and filmmakers.

Governor Snyder's recent budget proposal contained $25 million in tax credits for film makers. That's a 50 percent cut from the present  film credit cap of $50 million, and some lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, a fellow Republican, say that is one bad plan that he says will drive the film industry out of Michigan.

On the Detroit set of Paramount Pictures’ "Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon."
Robert Zuckerman / Michigan Film Office

How much support should the state of Michigan give to the film industry and filmmakers?

Governor Snyder's recent budget proposal contained $25-million in tax credits for film makers.

That's a 50 percent cut from the present  film credit cap of $50 million.

Some lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, a fellow Republican, say that is one bad plan.

He says it will drive the film industry out of Michigan.

Take a listen to our interview with the Director of the Michigan Film Office, Margaret O'Riley, above.

The state Senate’s top Republican says he’ll once again try to ward off big cuts to Michigan’s film industry credits.

For the second year in a row, Governor Rick Snyder is proposing a budget that would cap the state’s film incentives at $25 million for the year.

And for the second year in a row, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he’ll fight to give the industry at least twice that.

“To that particular industry and to the mostly blue collar workers that benefit from that in Michigan, it would be devastating to them,” says Richardville.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan film producers and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville say they will lobby to maintain the state's $50 million film credits cap.

Gov. Snyder is calling for a $25 million dollar cap in film incentives in the budget he has proposed. The amount is the same he proposed last year, but lawmakers raised the cap to $50 million during budget negotiations.

Arab museum holds 8th annual film fest

Jan 6, 2013

An annual festival of movies from the Middle East is screening films rarely seen in the United States.

The Arab American National Museum in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn is hosting the 2013 festival that runs from Jan 24-26.

Stateside: Detroit firefighters documented in "BURN"

Dec 6, 2012
detroitfirefilm.org

Firefighter Walter Harris was killed in 2008 while attempting to put out a blazing abandoned building.

The headlines surrounding Harris’s death caught the attention of Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez.

Both filmmakers agreed a story deserved to be told about Harris and other Detroit firefighters.  

“Tom and I knew there was a story here that hadn’t been told about firefighters,” said Sanchez.

The story manifested into the new film, "BURN."

Lloydpictures.com

Michigan’s days of filling films’ frames are far from over. Carrie Jones, executive director of the Michigan Film Office, foresees a steady increase in the state’s film production.

Cyndy spoke with Jones in what was a continuation of Stateside’s look at Michigan’s film industry.

Once the top film incentive program in the country, Michigan now ranks within the top 10.

With a budget increase to $58 million for the 2013 fiscal year, Michigan expects to enjoy an increase in film production.

Judy van der Velden / Flickr

Not long ago stars like Mila Kunis, Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman were spotted in Michigan. For a brief moment the streets of Ann Arbor resembled those of New York or Los Angeles.

That was when Michigan offered the nation’s best subsidies for film and television production.

But to Governor Rick Snyder, these generous production tax incentives were not viable for our struggling state.

The incentives program was given a $25-milion dollar cap for the 2012 fiscal year.

Michigan’s tidal wave of film and TV production has slowed to a trickle.

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People are making a lot of movies about Detroit these days. More than 60 of those films will be screened this weekend at an outdoor film festival in Detroit's Perrien Park.

Organizers hope to spark conversation about how Detroit is seen by Michiganders, and the rest of the world. 

25 hours, 15 minutes and 45 seconds of film, documentaries and music videos - all about Detroit.

“It’s kind of wild how many [films] have been made in the last 3 or 4 years...I wasn’t aware it was on this scale,” said filmmaker Nicole Macdonald.

Well, we are heading into the holiday weekend, and if the weather holds up, many of us will be barbecuing or going out on the water. But some of us will be going to the movies.

And your odds of seeing a major motion picture made in Michigan are a lot smaller than they were a few years ago.

That’s because the film incentive established by the Granholm Administration ended when Rick Snyder became governor and Republicans took over both houses of the legislature.

Photo courtesy of Abby Rose Photo

The Ann Arbor Film Festival wrapped up less than a month ago…they’ve barely packed up their film reels.  And already the Michigan Theater is prepping for yet another festival to open next month called Cinetopia.

This new, international festival will feature more traditional narrative film and documentaries, rather than the experimental films that dominate the Ann Arbor Film Fest.

mconnors, gracey / morgueFile

Lots of news packed into this week's Artpod!

We learn about Michigan's burgeoning garment industry, and we get an update on how one of the state's biggest movie studios is doing (hint: not too well.) Plus, we talk with the director of the new documentary, After the Factory.

user mconnors / morgueFile

A Michigan movie studio that opened just ten months ago is in default on an $18 million state-issued bond.           

Raleigh  Studios made a big splash when it opened in Pontiac last March, with its seven sound stages and state of the art facilities. But now the movie studio can no longer meet its debt obligations, and will not make a $420,000 payment due Feb. 1.

"The movie studio is in default of that payment," explains Terry Stanton, communications director for the Michigan Department of Treasury. "But the bonds will not be in default, since the State of Michigan Retirement Systems is obligated to make those payments."

The money will come out of the retirement funds of public school and state employees, police and judges. 

(courtesy of MotorCityBlog)

The state of Michigan starts 2012 with a new incentive for film and television productions. But people in the industry in Michigan fear the new incentive will not attract the volume of business they need to stay employed.  

Mark Adler is the director of the Michigan Production Alliance. He said many film people have already left the state of Michigan to find work. 

“The people that are players…that are keys…that we need…here in Michigan…were grown here…have sought work elsewhere," said Adler.  

A new film-incentives program would give money to film and video game companies under a proposal approved by the state Senate.

Republicans have been looking for a new way to attract film companies to Michigan.

A tax-credit program created by Governor Jennifer Granholm was largely unpopular with the GOP.

Republican state Senator Mike Kowall says he a grant-based system for funding the film industry could still attract big-name productions to Michigan.  

He says the amount of money the state appropriates for the film industry may become a contentious issue down the road. But he says it’s important to get a system in place now that will keep the film industry interested in Michigan.

 “When you go down into these studios and you see not only how many people are there but the caliber and they’re from Michigan – they’re Michigan kids, they’re people that maybe moved to California and had the opportunity to move back and they grabbed it, said Kowall.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has said he would like to see as much as $100 million budgeted for the film incentives program.

If the Legislature approves the new incentive program, lawmakers will still have to decide how much money to budget for the film industry. The state Senate is expected to vote on the film-incentive program proposal tomorrow.

user reinistraidas / Flickr

Michigan’s film industry will take center stage before a state Senate panel tomorrow.

The Economic Development Committee is expected to discuss a proposed new funding structure for rewarding film companies that want to shoot in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said a generous film tax-incentive program under Governor Jennifer Granholm’s administration was not sustainable, but he said it helped initially attract the movie industry.

“We got a lot of attention by bringing Hollywood here, so to speak, now we’re going to spend a lot less on famous actors and big names and more on providing credit if you’re shooting here in Michigan, [and] if you have a Michigan studio,” said Richardville.

Richardville said film companies want to work in Michigan, but he said many feel the state forced them out when it scaled back its once-generous incentive program.

“You talk to producers, you talk to directors, you talk to movie makers that have been all around the country – they really like Michigan, they’re excited to come back to Michigan. And even the film that we lost recently, I heard a lot from the companies involved that they were very disappointed because those up close wanted to stay in Michigan and film Iron Man 3,” said Richardville.

Governor Snyder approved a less aggressive, $25 million grant program for film projects, but the state Film Office stopped taking applications earlier this month, saying there were no rules for projects to qualify.

The Richardville legislation would put those rules in place.

user reinistraidas / Flickr

Update 4:18 p.m.

Carrie Jones, director of the Michigan Film Office posted a letter on their website explaining their decision to suspend film incentive applications.

The letter explains that they are waiting for direction from Michigan legislators. She says Senate Bill 569 lays out the parameters of the new $25 million incentive program, but it has not been acted on. From her letter:

Recognizing there are many projects currently planning to submit applications on October 1, we feel this is the best course of action for several reasons – the primary of which are ensuring certainty and consistency within the Michigan film incentive program. With everything in SB 569 subject to change at this stage in the process, we simply do not yet have answers to many of the most basic questions projects have when applying for the film incentives. We also want to ensure all projects approved under the new funding are approved using the same set of criteria regardless of when in the fiscal year they apply.

Jones writes that she knows the legislature plans to take up SB 569, but she does not know when. SB 569 was referred to the Senate Committee on Economic Development last July.

3:56 p.m.

The Michigan Film Office says it is not taking any more applications for movie incentives because there are no guidelines for the program.

The director of the film office released a statement today saying all applications are on hold, and will likely have to be re-submitted after the Legislature passes a new law outlining new incentive guidelines.

Governor Rick Snyder's administration is backing away from Michigan's old program of generous tax breaks for filmmakers. The state has set aside $25 million to support filmmaking in the fiscal year that begins tomorrow (Saturday, October 1), but film office director Carrie Jones says she needs guidance on how that money is to be spent.

Michigan’s attorney general is considering an appeal in a case against two men involved in a project to convert an old GM plant located in Walker into a film studio.

Joe Peters and Jack Buchanan Jr. tried to get $10 million in state film incentives for a big studio project. But the film office rejected their application and the deal fell through. They got no taxpayer money.

This weekend “30 Minutes or Less” comes out in theaters. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about it in Grand Rapids this week; a few are hosting movie parties. The pizza place where the main character works in the film, is giving people $5 off their order if they present a movie stub. I admit, I spent some time at work today playing the little internet pizza delivery game on the movie's page.

Reinis Traidas / Flickr

The old film incentives were scrapped in the tax overhaul approved by the Michigan legislature and the Governor.

They said the old film incentives, which gave production companies a 42% credit on total expenses in Michigan, was too costly ($115 million was spent last year, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy).

In it's place, a $25 million film incentive program for Michigan's next fiscal year (which starts October 1).

Now, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he wants to improve the film incentives.

MPRN's Rick Plua filed this report:

Richardville says his new proposal would focus financial support in activities that reward spending on Michigan products, services, and workers.

He says investors have put money into expensive production facilities, and workers have learned new skills in the belief that incentives would attract more film business to the state.

 “I think the strength of that workforce, the strength of the investments we have in Michigan will cause us to win contracts in competitive situations versus other states. Once we’re done with that, then let’s analyze it to see what we can afford versus what the industry needs to sustain itself here in Michigan.”

Governor Rick Snyder’s office says he would like to see how Michigan’s new incentive program is working before making changes.

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation allowing more flexibility for Michigan's movie and film incentive program.

The legislation that Snyder announced signing Tuesday gives the Michigan Film Office the ability to negotiate the size of the credits it offers to movie, television and video game producers.

The incentives offered can be lower than the 42 percent subsidy now provided automatically when a project is approved for credits.

Supporters of the change say the current system may provide more taxpayer support for projects than necessary.

The state's movie and film credit program will be capped at $25 million in the fiscal year that starts in October. The state's current incentive program is not capped and offers some of the most generous credits in the nation.

Corey Seeman / Flickr

People who work in Michigan’s film industry hope efforts to boost the incentives for TV, movie, and video productions are successful.

They say the recent $25 million cap on the incentives makes them too small to attract big productions.

Chris Baum helps market the state to Hollywood with Michigan Film First and Film Detroit.

Baum says the state does not have to be as generous as it has been in the past to movie-makers, but it still has to put more money into incentives if it’s going to build a movie industry here:

"It’s not brain surgery. We've invited an industry here. We've promised them that we wanted them here," said Baum. "We need to continue to giving them conditions that allow themselves to establish themselves here and then down the road, they'll be so comfortable coming to Michigan that we'll be able to pull back on the the incentives further."

Baum says Michigan needs to have at least $100 million available for incentives if it’s going to attract the big budget movies that generate the most economic activity.

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville is expected to unveil a plan this week to boost the state’s film incentives.

Governor Rick Snyder dramatically scaled back the incentives saying they offered a poor return to taxpayers.

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