Commission To Direct Film Business

August 2, 2002
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LANSING—The Road to Film Revenue is now playing in Lansing.

A year after Road To Perdition star Tom Hanks put southwest Michigan in a Hollywood-like limelight, Gov. John Engler has put the state in a movie-making mode by signing a bill that created the Film Advisory Commission (FAC) as part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries.

FAC will assist the Michigan Film Office (MFO) in promoting the state’s film, TV, and video production industries and attracting media business to Michigan. The commission will also advise the state on how to market its locations, facilities, talent and related services.

“The creation of the Film Advisory Commission will highlight all Michigan has to offer,” said Engler, “both as an ideal place to shoot video productions and to locate a media production business.

“Michigan will go from having a staff of one at the Michigan Film Office to having an advisory board charged with bringing more business to Michigan,” he added.

FAC will have 15 members. The governor will name 13, while Speaker of the House Rick Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow will each name one. It’s not certain yet, however, when those members will be appointed.

“We’re working on that now, but I couldn’t tell you when that will be announced,” said Matt Resch of the Governor’s Office. “I’m sure they will begin to take applications now that the commission has been created and then begin the interview process.”

Chances are good that the members will be appointed before the year ends, when Engler finishes his third and final term as governor. But the commission is unlikely to be given an annual line item budget. Instead, members are likely to be reimbursed for their expenses.

“In most cases with commissions like this, when they act in more of an advisory capacity, they have a very limited budget which basically pays for their meetings and pays for their travel to and from meetings,” said Resch.

“What they do will be carried out by the department they are involved with, so their funds would come from the Department of History, Arts and Libraries.”

State Rep. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, sponsored the bill that created the commission.

The governor reported that Michigan ranks 21st among the states in the film business and in the top ten for the production of commercials.

“I look forward to seeing this growth industry grow in Michigan,” said Engler.

So is MFO Director Janet Lockwood. She is also looking forward to having the help, as she not only heads the office, but is the office.

“I’m as happy as a clam, an excellent move,” she said.

Lockwood told the Business Journal that she has been lobbying for the commission for the past nine years.

“I work alone and it’s very difficult to brainstorm with yourself in a one-person office,” she said. “They will be extremely helpful. I’m sure that they will have many ideas I haven’t thought of, and also possibly be able to implement some of the ideas I have thought of.”

Lockwood said the state hosted eleven film shoots last year. Seven of those resulted in an estimated impact of $20 million to the state economy.

In addition to “Road to Perdition,” other films shot in the state last year included “Eight Mile,” “Below,” “China,” “American Pie 2,” and “Super Sucker,” the story of rival door-to-door vacuum cleaner distributors that was done by Chelsea resident Jeff Daniels.

The state has 21 sound stages.

“Michigan has all the assets needed to attract production business; spectacular locations, great crews and facilities, lower overall costs than either coast,” said Lockwood.

“The Commission will help us market these benefits and bring production companies here to film their projects, hire our crews, stay in our hotels, buy our food, rent our equipment and promote Michigan for us via visual images.”

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