Economic Development, Film, and Government

Higher incentives boost films

November 10, 2012
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LANSING — Because tax incentives for film production recently doubled, Margaret O’Riley, new head of the Michigan Film Office, said efforts to promote films and digital projects in the state will be unceasing.

The state-funded program reimburses part of the cost of film and digital media projects produced in Michigan.

Last year, incentives were cut dramatically from $115 million in 2010 to $25 million. But this year, the office can offer $58 million in incentives, which includes $50 million for the new fiscal year, plus an additional $8 million rolled over from 2011.

“It would be a game-changer for Michigan’s film industry,” said Rick Hert, film commissioner at the West Michigan Film Office in Grand Rapids.

By Oct. 30, 32 projects had applied for the program and 11 of them were awarded about $15 million in incentives, which will create more than 1,000 Michigan hires, according to the state Film Office.

Harold Cronk, a filmmaker who runs 10 West Studios, produced seven feature films in recent years and said the incentive program benefited his productions such as “Mickey Matson” and “The Copperhead Conspiracy,” which was set in Los Angeles but filmed in Michigan.

“Without incentive programs in place, Michigan would not be as competitive compared to other states in film production,” he said.

Michigan has one of the top 10 state film incentive programs in the country.

But infrastructure, locations and talent, as well as friendly neighborhoods, make Michigan more competitive than other states that have a similar program, O’Riley said.

“Communities in Michigan are excited to have productions in their neighborhoods,” she said. “That is not true for every state and it’s something that helps give us a competitive edge.”

Production companies that benefited from the program come from across the country. For example, the Film Office recently approved projects such as “Only Lovers Left Alive” by Bad Blood Films Inc. in New York, “AKA Jimmy Picard” by Topeka Productions Inc. in California and “Blue Goji Boxing” by Blue Goji Corp. in Texas.

Susan Woods, president of the East Lansing Film Society, said Michigan has a good atmosphere for film production, and projects continued although incentives went down.

“Anyone who wants to produce films joins in the industry and produces films no matter what the situation is,” she said.

Woods said Michigan has many festivals, which also encourages filmmakers to make productions and promote their projects in the state.

“Once filmmakers know they can have goals, more audiences and more exposure, they will get more involved in the industry,” Woods said.

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