ypsi and austin come to blows over whip it

Folks in Texas, it seems, aren’t that happy about Drew Barrymore’s roller derby movie “Whip It” being filmed in Ypsi instead of Austin, where the story is supposed to have taken place. The “Austin Chronicle” just ran an uninspired piece of satire on the subject, basically saying that their state legislators, by not giving film companies competitive incentive packages, were killing the industry in Texas.

While I’m thrilled that our little town, which has been beaten to hell by the recession these past several years, is experiencing a little bit of joy due to the presence of Barrymore and friends, I can’t say as I’m all that supportive of the aggressive Michigan incentives that brought them here. While I like the idea that we might be able to pick up some of the film industry work leaving Canada due to the unfavorable exchange rate, I don’t see as how it’s likely to have any long-term impact. It’s not as though studios will be building sound stages here, and really putting down roots… Generally speaking, I’m in agreement with Michael Shuman that corporate incentives don’t make good financial sense.

The image here, by Craig Staggs, is one that accompanied the article in the “Austin Chronicle.” I thought it was interesting how they stereotyped Michigan as a cold and miserable place, even though, in the summer, when the film is set to be shot, Ypsi and Austin aren’t really all that dissimilar.

And check out how they present Ypsi in the article itself:

The uproar over Texas’ film-incentives package reached a fever pitch recently with the news that Whip It!, the Drew Barrymore-directed adaptation of Shauna Cross’ semi-autobiographical novel Derby Girl — about a teenager in small-town Texas who joins the Austin Roller Derby revival of the early 2000s — would not be shooting in Austin but rather in incentive-rich, Roller Derby-poor Ypsilanti, Mich., the home of such cinematic landmarks as Eastern Michigan University, the Sauk Indian Trail, and Willow Run Airport, at the Belleville Road exit off I-94…

And, for the record, the Bellville Road exit isn’t in Ypsi. It’s in Bellville… Furthermore, I don’t think we’re all that “roller derby-poor.” In fact, one of the Detroit Derby Girls presently working with Drew and company on their skate moves lives (or at least used to live) in Ypsi.

For what it’s worth, I love Austin. It’s a hell of a place. And I’m happy as hell to have them calling us out this, instead one of the other local communities involved in this project. (From what I understand, Whip It HQ is in Saline, Barrymore is living in West Bloomfield, and, in addition to Ypsi, they’ll also be shooting a lot in Detroit.)

And here’s another little bit of information that I’ve stumbled on, shooting won’t begin on the 28th as we’ve all be led to believe. It’s already began. I know because I’ve been asked to be an extra in Detroit on Friday, in what I’m told is a “funeral scene.” Unfortunately, I can’t make it, though, as it’s Clementine’s fourth birthday… And, yes, I plan to hold it against her forever that she stood between me and my dream of being a professional actor.

[Thanks to a reader named Bummed for the link to the “Austin Chronicle” piece.]

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14 Comments

  1. CKL
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Interestingly (perhaps), Dave and I were extras in a funeral scene. (VERY small movie, though.)

  2. Posted July 11, 2008 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    The movie as depicted in the cartoon actually looks a lot more interesting. Maybe even a new sport – ice skating derby? Thanks, Austin! I bet we have dibs if that ever becomes a movie too, suckers!

  3. applejack
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    “It’s not as though studios will be building sound stages here, and really putting down roots…”

    mark-
    this might be true in general, especially if you’re only thinking of big hollywood studios, but this recent announcement for lansing seems like a pretty big deal since it likely would never have happened six months ago: http://apps.cityoflansingmi.com/newsevents/releases/CCS%20Announcement%20NR-FINAL39532.pdf

    the film incentives will cost us in the short term, but a handful of ventures like this should begin to offset that

  4. Andy C
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Michigan HAD the third largest film industry in the United States. Mainly because of the auto industry. Since the auto industry here he is declining so is film work. A lot of the old sound stages here, abandoned but still standing, and there is a lot of people looking to work.

  5. Andy C
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Boy that made sense! I hope you got the gist.

  6. Posted July 11, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Shooting outdoor scenes in Austin in Summer is Hell on Earth. (Temp right now is a sunny, 98 lip-implant-melting degrees.)

    Horrid cartoon, even by Chronicle standards. Thanks to a former Austin resident and his oil-industry friends’ global warming, the ice fishing scene is inaccurate.

    Austin has a history of whining and tearing down other cities. Kinda like another city that begins with “A”…

  7. Kerri
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Hey Mark, I think there will be plenty of other opportunities if you want to be in it. I just got an email today asking for my availability for about a dozen different shooting dates.

    This was also in the email:

    “We’re actively searching for Extras with the following characteristics or skill sets:
    Bald Males (willing to get dome signed by Drew and cast)
    Mohawks (either gender)
    Skaters (roller)
    And those who know Sign Language”

    So if you’re willing to shave your head, you just might get some real screen time!

    Happy birthday to Clementine!

  8. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    On the plus side, at least Austin didn’t mention Ann Arbor in its list of things we don’t have going on. For once, we get to stand on our own merits.

    And, Happy B-Day to the girl. (One of our merits.)

  9. Posted July 12, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I sent them a letter:

    “I’ll be the first to admit that it makes little sense to film a Texas story in Michigan, even in the summer time, but Josh Rosenblatt and the Chronicle were less than fair in their dismissal of Ypsilanti).

    More than just home to Eastern Michigan University and the Sauk Indian Trail (Belleville Road is actually in Belleville, guys) Ypsi has given the world Rosie the Riveter, Iggy Pop, Preston Tucker, the striped referee shirt, the concept of pizza delivery, and the “Paul is Dead” rumor.

    The “Rust Belt Despair” that Rosenblatt maligns has made for cheap rent which fuels a thriving local arts scene, one surprisingly large for 3 square miles. These days as the threat of gentrification looms, “Keep Ypsi Weird” stickers have been popping up around town. Because, like you guys, we dig indie business and eschew corporate chains, even if we’re happy to do business with movie studios.

    Let’s be friends,
    KD2″

  10. Posted July 16, 2008 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Clint Eastwood is currently filming in Grosse Pointe Shores. I wonder what city in Texas is pissed off about that.

  11. Ed
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    KD2’s letter was posted at the Austin Chronicle:

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Community/Postmarks

  12. Robert
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    The only way to settle this is through a winner take all roller derby match. Some neutral town halfway between the two could host…say Jackson, Tennesee or Springfield, Missouri. Which one of those would make the nicer location?

  13. Posted July 22, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I moved from Ann Arbor to Austin two years ago for the film industry and now I’m back to teaching high school. Frankly, if I were Drew Barrymore, I’d pick Saline, too. It looks a lot like a lot of the small towns in Texas but the weather’s way better in the summer. For the long haul, I think Austin is better equipped to make lots of films. They’ve got Austin Studios, Ranch Studios, a huge variety of locations from waterfalls to rivers and caves to city scapes and Anytown, USA all within a one hour radius. But their incentives are not good and the legislature seems to think people will just make movies in Austin anyway. I hope Whip-It will open their eyes.

  14. Jarvis34
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I got blown in Austin once. Still waiting in Ann Aarbor.

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