Archive for September, 2016

Yes I’m still sitting on many many pictures of the Transformers 5 filming in Michigan. I was waiting for the pictures from the UK filming to die down a little before posting. Then this morning I was watching my Twitter feed full of TF5 news as usual, and saw a post relating to the filming right now in the UK, in Gosport, Hants at the Naval Base (Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Portsmouth (HMNB Portsmouth).

Someone posted the rumor around town was that “the Alliance was going to be a Decepticon.”

Wait, where have I seen that name before? Yes!  A quick google search brought up lots of information on the HMS Alliance which is now on display at the  Naval Museum.

Here’s the submarine. Look closely toward the right.



And here are the pictures I took of the set in Michigan in late August before the production moved on to the UK. I had no idea what this was at the time. I only saw Mark’s and Laura’s stunt doubles on this set while I was there. There was some screaming, but nothing was visible! I googled for the ‘Alliance’ but I was thinking more ‘space shuttle’ than submarine. Mystery solved.



I’m very envious right now of all of the great shots coming in from the UK, specifically Newcastle last week where Transformers: The Last Knight is currently filming. So much of the production in Michigan was in studio and on the back lots of the Michigan Motion Picture Studios in Pontiac, and we really only got one awesome day of action to watch out on the streets of Detroit.

I did get the chance to view some of the sets in Pontiac and they were very cool. We’ve seen videos released by Michael Bay of the huge platform they used to film several scenes (and I have some pictures of that I’ll post later), but a couple of other sets were also interesting.

Like this one. I watched construction but didn’t get to see any actual filming. Looks like some kind of alien vessel with pipes and tubes? I have to say I’m curious how this whole alien/ship/submarine/helicopter theme is gong to fit in with all the castles and King Arthur etc. A year to wait, I guess.




I was fortunate to see quite a lot of scenes filmed in Michigan this Summer, but still missed some of the action. I watched this set being built over several weeks, but never did get to watch it being used. Clearly it’s an elevator of some sort. I didn’t notice until now that there’s a cut-out figure inside.

I do have a lot of pictures and filming stories to share from the last couple of months of the filming on Transformers: The Last Knight in Michigan. I’ll get to it, I promise.

To start off, here are some photographs of the set in the Farwell Building in Capitol Park, Detroit where the production filmed for a couple of days. This scene filmed here featured Mark Wahlberg, Isabela Moner and Jerrod Carmichael. Capitol Park has been under construction for a while now, so many people probably weren’t even aware that filming was in progress. For an update on the history, architecture, and plans for the park see this great article in Detroit Curbed.

Not much to see here as all the filming was inside the building. Michael Bay did share a fun iPhone video of the three stars running through the building (linked to here on I managed to catch Mark and Isabela briefly on their way to their cars. Yay me.


(Always proud of the Celebrity-behind-an-object shots.. hey, it was a short opportunity and sometimes I’m not as fast as I would like).

Apologies to Isabela for catching her eating pizza.

Lots more pictures and videos to come. 


Filming is underway for the yet-to-be-titled movie based during the 1967 riots in Detroit, directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow. The movie is based on a script by Mark Boal, who won the Academy Award for original screenplay for “The Hurt Locker.” So far the movie has signed up Star Wars star John Boyega, and other stars such as Hannah Murray (Skins and Game of Thrones), Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Kaitlyn Dever (Justified), and others. Obviously the story is set in Detroit and takes place against the backdrop of riots that erupted in the Motor City over five hot days in the summer of 1967.  But filming is ongoing not in Detroit Michigan, but in various towns in Massachusetts, and the town of Brockton, MA has this week been transformed into Detroit circa 1967. So the picture above isn’t of a burned out Detroit neighborhood, but is actually a set in small town, MA.

This is hard for me to type. A movie based around the 1967 Detroit riots is being filmed in Massachusetts. Every now and again someone on Twitter raises the question why, but of course the answer is obvious. Michigan recently terminated its Film Credits, and the production simply can’t turn down the credits offered by other states, such as Massachusetts. Why is this such a Big Deal? Movies are all about make-believe, and how many movies are actually filmed in the city where they are set? After all, Detroit has recently stood in for Paris (The Double), China/Korea (Red Dawn), Gotham and Metropolis (Batman v Superman), London (Transformers:The Last Knight) and many many others. Countless movies set in New York City or Chicago and actually filmed in Vancouver, Toronto, Cleveland or (increasingly) Atlanta. But when they need the Empire State Building, they go to NYC. If they need Navy Pier they go to Chicago. Those cities will always have a relatively thriving movie industry even with minimal financial incentives, because they have landmarks that movie makers need. Now Michigan has a lot to offer the movie industry in terms of its diverse natural beauty, coasts and forest, almost every kind of landscape you can imagine, and of course the more obvious urban settings that have tended to bring film makes here in the past. It’s no coincidence that many of the movies filmed in Michigan have taken advantage of the less developed areas of the city of Detroit, using the devastated urban areas as post-apocalyptic settings, but Michigan has a lot more to offer the movie industry than just Ruin Porn. However there are very few movies that are actually set in Detroit, so the likelihood of a thriving movie industry based around that fact is slim. And now there’s this movie. Set in Detroit. Filmed around Boston. And that sucks.

The ending of the Film Credits was painful. It was a miserable blow to the many people who had decided to make a go of the industry here. The many who had benefited from the rush of productions here since 2008. We know who they are. Catering companies, lumber yards, security firms, taxi companies, drivers, tradespeople who are needed on every production to build sets, hotels, restaurants and all of the local businesses experience a boom when the movies come to town. And people love it. I have been around many movie sets, and I have yet to encounter one single person who wasn’t excited, thrilled, amused, delighted by the movie magic around them.  Most people I’ve spoken to were disappointed to learn that the credits have gone. Transformers: The Last Knight recently filmed between the towns of Webberville and Stockbridge in rural Michigan, and hundreds of local people came out to see the action. Dozens of cars lined the roadsides for a glimpse of Bumblebee or Optimus Prime, or maybe even Mark Wahlberg. Adults, teens, parents with their kids. I’m not saying this is an unbiased cross-section, but it struck me that in the last 6 years I’ve still yet to meet more than a couple of people who really thought the film credits were a bad thing, and yet reading the comment sections of the newspapers, you’d think that the populous despised them.

As we know, and as the detractors of film incentive programs often tell me, the movies go to where the incentives are. Yes, they do, because that’s how this unique industry works. And that’s why a movie set in  Detroit is now being filmed in Brockton, MA, employing hundreds of local people, bringing money into the local economy, creating interest in the movie industry in MA, and generally doing good things for the economy. Could the way the incentives were managed have been improved? Maybe. Could we learn from places where the incentives haven’t been so effective? Sure. Could we learn from Georgia where the movies brought in $6 billion last year. We would be stupid not to. Michigan started its incentives at a time when the auto industry was in crisis and we were foolish to abandon them just because the industry is booming again. Michigan just passed legislation giving literally billions of dollars of tax breaks to Data Centers in West Michigan, but we couldn’t invest $50M a year to continue to develop the fledgling movie industry in our state.

The latest Transformers movie has now moved on to the UK. The Detroit Riots movie does plan to swing through and film a few scenes here, but realistically that could be it for movie production in our state. Meanwhile Pennsylvania just expanded their film credits and Ohio DOUBLED theirs, so our neighboring states are reaping the benefits of the demise of Michigan’s program. I have no skin in the game here really. This is just a hobby for me, but I’ve seen the hundreds of people for whom it was a lot more than that. It sucks.