More Richard Gere and Topher Grace and the state of movies in Michigan

Posted: October 7, 2011 in Michigan Movie News, The Double
Tags: ,

Looks like the release date for The Double has slipped until the end of October.  Other Michigan movies out in theaters right now include the Ides of March and Real Steel. It’s hard to believe these were being filmed here just a year or less ago, and harder still to see how things have changed since.

The Michigan Film Office has run out of money for this year and is no longer accepting any applications. We just heard that we lost Iron Man 3 to North Carolina, and who knows how many other movies that could have brought millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to the State will now be filmed in Ohio and Illinois and North Carolina and Lousiana.  I’m going to say that again, louder… MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND HUNDREDS OF JOBS.  In fact movies will be filmed anywhere other than here, because despite what the naysayers keep nay-saying, 41 states, including California, have some kind of film incentive. Yes, even California has a film incentive! Why? Because they know it wastes tax payer money? I’m guessing (and this is, you know, a wild and crazy guess…) because when movies are filmed in your town and State, it brings in MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

There are still a few small movies planned for the next few months, but as much as I support these ventures, they are not the ventures that are going to build a movie industry in Michigan. They aren’t the projects that are going to keep young graduates from fleeing the State to the coasts. They aren’t the projects that are going to put Michigan on the map for anything other than urban collapse and an auto industry that is hanging in there, just. Yes, this makes me cranky.

My own State Senator, Senator Mike Kowall, may not agree with me on some other issues, but he is trying to introduce a bill that will restore the incentives in some form. The bill will set aside $100 million rather than the current (already spent) $25 million, and give more oversight and transparency to the program. There are other things I’m not so happy about like a clause which states that the movie ‘must show Michigan in a good light.”  Really? I’m thinking that if someone wants to spend say $160 million to film in burned out buildings in Detroit, we should hug them and take their money.  But we do need to restore the program and put some real commitment behind it so that we don’t look flaky and unreliable — which we currently do. Right now no one wants to commit to filming here when the whole program looks uncertain.

S.B. 383, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Kowall, gives the Michigan Film Office the ability to negotiate the size of incentives it offers to film, television and video game producers.  Under current law, the incentive program is strictly defined, resulting in fixed incentive percentages the film office must offer and greater expenditure of taxpayer money than necessary.  With this change, the film office may offer productions lower incentives packages than the current automatic 42 percent subsidy.  By having the ability to offer varying levels of support, this change will also give the state more ability to ensure the incentive program creates jobs for Michigan residents.  The legislation is now P.A. 77. 

I only hope that sanity prevails, and this bill passes, because, Lions and Tigers aside, Detroit and Michigan could use a break right now.

Meanwhile, remember when we were rubbing shoulders with Topher and Richard?

  1. Liz says:

    I just saw Ides of March yesterday, it was great but could have been better. I like that new bill that your senator is trying to pass, $100 million would be a lot better than $25 mil.

    Our governor basically is deluded … :(. I signed a petition to recall him at the A2 Art Fair a few months ago.


    • thebananadoc says:

      Thanks, Liz, I saw your review. I’m busy for the next week and have no idea when I’ll get to the movie, but I’m dying to see it. As for our Governor, I think ideology is blinding him from the reality that this was money well-spent to diversify business in the State. My hope is that the $100 million bill will pass, and that people will start to see past the partisan rhetoric and see that the program is working. Studies from hugely-biased partisan study groups are not the way to evaluate its success!


      • Liz says:

        I think it was a good movie but I wanted it to be better. Really great performances by Gosling, Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, and PSH, Clooney is barely in it though.


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