All week on Absolute Michigan we’re featuring Detroit, looking beyond the stereotypes to see what’s really going on in Michigan’s largest city.
A recent article titled Motown Becomes Movietown in the Wall Street Journal begins:
The set of the gritty cop show “Detroit 1-8-7″ is one of more than 100 film and television productions that have flocked to Michigan in the last two years, the result of generous tax rebates. Producers have spent nearly $350 million in the state so far, a figure expected to reach $650 million by year’s end, up from $2 million in 2007, according to the Michigan Film Office. About 80% of these shoots take place in and around this iconic but much-maligned city, sprinkling a little stardust, optimism and controversy along the way.
Workers who used to build cars are learning to build sets. The entertainment sector is “a lifeboat as the auto industry adapts and restructures,” says Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano.
Signs of activity are everywhere. Hip-looking film-school grads on bicycles run errands in an empty warehouse that once served as a Chrysler distribution center and is now a cavernous 166,000-square-foot production studio for “Detroit 1-8-7.”
The article goes on to look at the nuts and bolts and numbers behind Michigan’s industry leading film incentive, how the production of a prime time TV show impacts the city’s bottom line and at the controversy around the image of Detroit that the show and other productions feature.
Metromode goes in-depth on something that WSJ feature touched on, the thriving market for actors and extras in southeast Michigan.
According to Michelle Begnoche of the Michigan Film Office, since the film incentive went into effect, the state has seen 117 projects shoot here, creating more than $600 million in local spending. Half of that amount came from 2009 productions. This year should be similarly robust, with four films in pre-production and another 10 currently filming. These include Transformers 3, This Must Be The Place (starring Sean Penn), and The Reasonable Bunch.
With nearly 4,000 jobs created for Detroit extras last year, many displaced workers have found their second scene in film. And although life as a movie extra isn’t all glitz and glamor, it does offer the chance for unemployed, underemployed, aspiring starlets and those who are just curious about the movie-making business to get a glimpse into what transpires behind the scenes.
Supporters of Michigan’s film incentive are worried that a growing movement to end the incentive will kill Michigan’s burgeoning film industry. Michigan Film Reel talked with a number of industry pros about the incentive last month: