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.

While Tranformers 5: The Last Knight filmed in Michigan over the last few weeks, much of the action was filmed well out of the public eye on the lots of the Michigan Motion Picture Studios in Pontiac, or in the depths of the abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit, where only the bravest movie stalker would be found. However the production did venture out into downtown Detroit for a couple of days. Filming in Detroit always creates a buzz around town, and the scenes didn’t disappoint. Although you could only see what was going on from the ends of the streets, car chases and explosions were visible, Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg were on set, and for 48 hours downtown Detroit looked just a little bit like London, England. Oh, and Bumblebee!

I found myself in a handy parking garage which gave the best view of all, and spent a happy day watching the action. Some of my pictures have been shared by other sources already, and some were on Twitter, but here are some others, and more to come in the days ahead.

2016-07-23 036If you’ve been following the filming of Transformers 5: The Last Knight in Michigan over the last couple of months you’ll probably have noticed that they have now left our great state and moved on to film in the UK, notably London (probably) and this week on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I have great memories of climbing the Old Man of Storr on Skye so I’ll be interested to see that in the movie. I was also surprised to see a real Medieval knight on horseback pictured on set. OK then! Gotta love these movies.

Those of you who follow my tweets and read my blog might have thought that for a movie stalker I haven’t been doing much stalking of this movie. Actually I have, I just haven’t posted what I’ve seen for various reasons. I don’t even want to count how many pictures I’ve taken and how many hours I’ve spent, but it was (mostly) fun, and I’ll be writing up and posting pictures here over the next weeks and months up to the release of the movie. This is a busy time of year with school starting up and so it will be slow(ish), and I’m also being somewhat careful what shots I share because there will be spoilers, and I’m less comfortable about giving a lot of stuff away. I did get to see some great scenes, but now and again my trusty camera wasn’t quite up to capturing the task. I’m remedying the situation by buying a Really Big Lens just as the last movie to be filmed in Michigan has packed up and left.

OK so Transformers 5 won’t be the very last movie to be filmed here. Rumors have it that the movie based on the Detroit Riots (still unnamed) will be coming here to film some scenes after they have finished the bulk of the filming in MA. More on that (and probably some political ranting) in a subsequent post. Watch this space!

via Camaro and Mustang Transformers spied without disguise – Autoblog

via Mark Wahlberg falls out of Chevy Camaro as he shoots Transformers The Last Knight | Daily Mail Online


After a few weeks filming way out of the public eye at the Packard Plant and the Michigan Motion Picture Studios, Michael Bay and the rest of the Transformers 5 production team came out on the streets of Detroit yesterday with drones, helicopters and a flying Mark Wahlberg stunt double. I hope this guy earns a lot of money. The small crowd gathered to watch filming outside the Fisher Building last night gasped as the guy was first spun around in the air,  and then flung against the building several times. That had to hurt.

Filming in the area continues today (Friday) and then moves a few miles to Fort Street and Shelby downtown on Saturday. The extent of the road closures over the weekend might suggest some major filming and perhaps Optimus Prime, Hound and the rest of the gang out on the streets with some chases, explosions and general Bayhem! Let’s hope.

Filming of Transformers 5 in Detroit began on Monday in some of the streets near the Packard Plant on the East side of Detroit. One of the things film makers must love about our city is the ability to close down several blocks for several days and have no one care! This is an area of the city that is pretty much blighted, with burned out buildings and a definite post-apocalyptic feel. There are no crowds watching the filming. Roads are blocked for some distance around the set and there’s literally no one there. If they move to shoot scenes in downtown of course that will change, but out there, they can shoot for days without having to shoo away the star-struck public.

These vehicles (or parts of vehicles) are nearby at the side of the road. You could easily drive by and not even notice them because they do seem to blend in with the dereliction of the old industrial facilities around there. Around the corner, hidden in one of the old factories is a set that they must have been working on for some time, again without anyone even noticing. When I heard that Transformers 5 was coming to town I had hoped they would build an elaborate set like the one for Transformers 4, which was right in downtown. Detroiters watched that set under construction for weeks before it was finally blown apart by Michael Bay’s pyrotechnics. Not so this time, and if the bulk of the action is to be filmed at this location, we won’t be able to see much if anything. That’s disappointing. Watching the Hong Kong set come to life from a vacant city lot week by week  was spectacular.

This set looks interesting, but there’s obviously a lot of detail in there that we won’t see until the movie comes out. At first glance it could be just another decaying industrial complex, but when you look closer there are some things that don’t quite belong!

  1. There’s a train in there. A wrecked train and it’s higher up than a train should be. Michael Bay does enjoy wrecking L-trains in his movies.
  2. That old factory building now has some strange Gothic pillars and architectural details on its facade that shouldn’t be there.
  3. Telegraph poles?
  4. An upside down yellow cab.
  5. Oh wait. Is that a space ship? Why, yes it is!

There’s still work to do here, and there’s no word yet on when filming will take place, but it’s possible no one will notice that either!





Yes, the blog has been quiet for a while! Since the Michigan Legislature chose to abandon the Film Credits #1 there have been no movies filming and #2 I’ve been too depressed to write anything! Yes, there are some smaller movies being filmed here and there, but the days of the big budget movie that brings millions of dollars to the State are over. I know that the State of Michigan has a lot of other things to worry about at the moment, but even so, this was a really, really stupid move. Over the last 2 years since Batman v Superman filmed here for almost an entire year, I’ve watched from the sidelines as many many people in the industry have left the state for the still-growing movie industry in Atlanta, or other places that are more incentive-friendly. Whatever. It is what it is. For me, this is a hobby. Life goes on. But for those who had worked hard to establish a thriving creative movie industry here in Michigan, this is depressing.

Opinions aside, we have one more big movie coming to town and this will be our swansong until perhaps a subsequent administration sees sense and again decides to invest in the industry again. For a while, we thought the last movie might be John Green’s long-anticipated “Looking for Alaska,” and scouts were in the area looking for locations. I was pretty excited for that one. It might have been filmed in my own small Metro Detroit town, but it was not to be. Creative differences, problems finding the perfect ‘Alaska’ or something else derailed that one, and we were anxious to know what would come next.

Here it is. Michael Bay loved the ‘D’ and Transformers 5 or Transformers: The Last Knight is now in Michigan and has begun filming after a couple of weeks near Phoenix, Arizona. Other possible locations after Detroit include Chicago and England, but for now let’s try to enjoy the next 10 weeks they’ll be here in Michigan

From the Detroit Free Press:

“Transformers 5” expects to spend $80 million in the state during production. It anticipates hiring 450 Michigan residents as part of an estimated 850 cast and crew hires. There also will be a need for 700 extras. That could represent a major commitment of time and money similar to 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” which shot extensively in metro Detroit  in 2013 and turned a chunk of downtown Detroit streets into a replica of Hong Kong. “Transformers 5,” which will return star Mark Wahlberg, is the fifth film directed by Michael Bay to come to Michigan. Previously, he’s worked here on 2005’s “The Island,” the original 2007 “Transformers,” 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” in addition to “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Where are they filming around town? 

Our good friends at On Location Vacations have listed the following possible locations:

Michigan Motion Picture Studios (old Raleigh Studios)
1999 Centerpoint Parkway
Pontiac, Michigan

Packard Plant
(Transformers 3 shot here, too)
1600 East Grand Blvd.
Detroit, Michigan

Michigan Central Train Station

2405 West Vernor Hwy.
Detroit, Michigan

Cafe D’Mongo’s Speakeasy

1439 Griswold Street
Detroit, Michigan

MGM Grand Casino
1777 3rd Avenue
Detroit, Michigan


Who are we expecting to see on set? 

Of course Mark Wahlberg is back reprising his role in the last movie. Joining him are Anthony Hopkins, Isabel Moner and Josh Duhamel.

As of today (June 20) filming  has started in the streets around the Packard Plant (everyone’s favorite Ruin Porn location) and the plant itself is expected to be used in the next few days. Other movie stalkers are already on the job: watch for @D3T0N8R and @TReinman on Twitter for updates as well as my Twitter feed and of course, this blog.

Keep your eyes open around town. If you see anything interesting let me know (@bananadoc) My schedule is tight this Summer, but I’ll be getting out to see the filming as much as I can. The Transformers sets are nowhere near as tied down as Batman V Superman, so only the minimum of stalking is required. Let’s enjoy this!

Some more pictures from the Corktown set here. I felt like hanging up my ‘paparazzi’ hat while filming this set over 2 days because I singularly failed to catch Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne except for the back of his head through smoke once. I did have a fun time hanging with my kids though, so I should just be thankful for that experience, right? In any case I’m not the paparazzi (no sh!t), I’m there to record the movie-making process. If I happen to snag a shot of Mark Wahlberg taking his pants off while I’m there, of COURSE I’m going to try to make a few bucks. Wrong movie, but you know what I mean.

Here we see Ben’s stunt-double and Zack Snyder setting up for the shot where Bruce Wayne runs through the ruins of the Wayne Industries building rescuing children, and in particular one adorable little red-headed girl. Aww. Bad Superman!

Still counting down to the official release of Batman v Superman at the end of the months and I’m looking back at the scenes we saw filmed in Detroit in the Summer and Fall of 2014. One of the most exciting periods was early August when the big set that had been constructed in Corktown finally came into play, followed over the next few days by huge scenes filmed across few streets in downtown. Both scenes seemed to be a flashback to the devastation caused by Superman’s battle with Zod at the end of Man of Steel.  This has pretty much been confirmed by the trailers at this point. (I’ve lost patience with adding a watermark to all my shots at this point, but if you do use one somewhere, please give credit. Thank you.)

These are the Corktown set which is the area around the large Wayne Industries Building. Below you’ll see extras in various states of disarray after the buildings have come down, Ben Afflek’s stand-in/stunt double, Scoot McNairy is in there somewhere (and therefore is perhaps an employee of Wayne Industries), a bunch of schoolchildren that Bruce Wayne rescues, Ben Afflek leaving his trailer, and Zack Snyder scowling at me.