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.