Aggressive Michigan Film Incentives make CNN

Given the State’s dismal budget situation, I still don’t see how we can maintain our aggressive pursuit of the film industry over the long haul, but I’ll admit that the recent activity in the area has probably been the one small, bright ray of hope that’s keeping young creative types here. Regardless, it’s good to hear the folks on CNN saying something about Michigan that isn’t related to either our inept automotive management or the fact that we lead the nation in unemployment.

For those of you afraid to watch the video, here’s a clip from the transcript:

CHETRY: An industry that drove its economy for 100 years is vanishing. In Michigan, they are already talking depression, not recession. The state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, already in double digits and climbing fast. Now some local boys who made good on the West Coast are coming home, and they’re using their star power to pump up the economy. Carol Costello joins us now with more on this. Hey, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a good story about Michigan and it’s about time, right. Because you know, we know Michigan is bleeding jobs, but there are many people there who say enough crying in your beer. It’s time to do something about it. And the solution is the stuff made in Hollywood.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Dreams, they’re made here, and if all goes well, here, too. Hollywood, Michigan, really? 

COSTELLO (on-camera): You hear things like Michigan, Hollywood of the north, Hollywood of the Midwest, and people go, oh, come on!

JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR: And your idea is what? What are you doing to, you know, to make Michigan a better place, to create jobs? Oh, nothing? Then shut up….

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  1. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    “Remember, before Detroit meant the big three, it meant these three from Motown.”

    I guess that’s sort of correct, since Detroit was the Big Four back then and AMC didn’t fly away and make it three until the mid 80s. But I do love the CNN concept that it was Motown that predated the auto industry.

    I thought the “new Hollywood” thing was a cute phase/PR stunt, but if this is really our current administration’s best/only strategy for remaking Michigan … if it’s just a diversion from “We got no real ideas” to “Look! It’s Drew Barrymore!” … we’re down to a big nothing.

  2. Posted February 11, 2009 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    this is really interesting. i have tons of relatives in michigan and they are really feeling the recession right now. i’ll be interested to know what they have to say about this.

  3. Rob
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Yeah, we’ll be the “Hollywood” around here (the Midwest)– Until some other state offers ’em a 50% plus break…. Also we might not have been as savvy as we thought. I’ve a friend who works back in Hollywood as a payroll accountant for many of Hollywood’s films, and he’s told me that on several of these Michigan shot films, the payrolls are still processed back in California. He mentioned that other states have set up their sweet-heart deals with Hollywood where such mundane tasks like payroll are done within the state as well as the actual film shoot. He mentioned Louisiana as one. Louisiana? Surely we can match at least them! A minor point, perhaps, but Michigan can use every new job it can grab a hold off.

  4. Paw
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Everyone’s lining up to take advantage of Michigan. It’s sad. We’ve got no self-respect left.

  5. Mike
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    How in Gods name is this a bad thing?

  6. jennyfuran
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Paw – what exactly do you mean by your comment? Last I checked the economy here sucks. I’m working on getting laid off at my second “respectable” job in just over 2 years. I own a house, which is the only reason I’m still here. I’ll take a job where I can get it, even Hollywood. I happen to know a lot of people who worked on Ms. Barrymore’s film. Good for them. How’s it hurting our self-respect??

    I think any industry, any jobs that want to make their way to this state, lets give it a shot. I’m not saying whole sale sell out to whomever knocks at the door, but lets at least hear ’em out and give it a shot.

  7. pepper
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    This Hollywood thing will work out great here for them (Hollywoodies) especially when they take advantage of us, then kind of disappear and don’t pay.
    Like what happened on the last film I worked on.
    Mail returned, emails and phone calls unanswered. Oh, yeah, it’ll be a boon to THEM.
    And I get tired of MI being clumped in w/the ‘Midwest.’ We’re nothing like the Midwest. We are our own thing…the Great Lakes.

  8. Paw
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Explain myself?

    Well, I just mean that we’re desperate, and, as a result, we don’t have much self-respect. The best we can do is beat everyone else on price. We’re like Big Lots. Next, they’ll come for our water. And, guess what? We’ll let them have it. We’ll kiss a million dicks in hope of getting one Prince Charming who can fix all of our problems. That’s what I meant.

  9. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 10:25 pm | Permalink


    I don’t think it’s a “bad thing.” A diversified economy and any added activity in the state is a good thing. I can’t speak for Paw, but I just don’t want us to pretend that a few dozen movies being made in Michigan is a real, long term solution to our issues. It may bring some benefit, which is great, but it’s a drop in the bucket that, in my opinion, only makes a big splash because of the celebrity attached.

  10. BrianR
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    There’s a great article in The Nation that quotes a interview with Clint Eastwood wherein he says, “Michigan will be the next film capital of the world.”

    For what it’s worth, there’s a paragraph further down in the article that talks about how awesome Wireless Ypsi is.

    Source: The Nation

  11. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the source the nation actually quoted as Clint Eastwood’s interview.

    Nice how The Nation said Eastwood was quoted “in an interview” rather than in a short, edited clip from “a puff political promo piece.”

  12. Relax Alice
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The Nation just reprinted the article from

    In its about page, Wiretap asks, “Who said only journalism graduates can be real reporters?”

    The article is actually more of a press release for the upcoming conference:

    It sounds like a good event but I don’t how it made it from there to The Nation.

  13. Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    The conversation continues in today’s Detroit Free Press. Here’s an excerpt:

    …But before Michigan celebrates too quickly its status as a Third Coast movie mecca, Hendry and Strout offered some blunt advice: Revise Michigan’s film incentives to apply only to movie workers who actually live in the state.

    New Mexico offers a 25% rebate on labor costs for workers who live in the state, but not for out-of-state workers who come in temporarily. Michigan rebates production costs of 30% regardless of residency and up to 42% for workers who actually live in Michigan.

    “In Michigan for some strange reason you guys are rebating the people they bring in, and that’s not going to help you,” said Hendry, businessagent for the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Local 480 in Santa Fe. “That’s not long-term economic development. My local went from 75 members to 1,400 members during this period of time, and it’s all based on you have to literally move here.” Hendry drafted part of New Mexico’s film-incentives law.

    “All you’re doing is giving money to Hollywood,” he said of Michigan’s incentives. “God bless ’em, they need it and I’m really happy you’re giving it to them, but it’s not going to build a sustainable business. Don’t you need jobs in Michigan? Then don’t be paying money to Californians and Texans and everybody else to come there and work. It doesn’t make any sense.”

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Arrested Development film to shoot in Ypsilanti? on February 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    […] fleet of Segways, which I’m sure he would make available to Gob, and, of course, there are those aggressive incentives for producers bringing projects to Michigan. And, there’s really no reason it couldn’t be a road movie. Maybe it already […]

  2. By Al Piano on February 20, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Any word on whether or not any new productions will be coming to Michigan this spring… Are the incentives still in place?

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