Could Michigan’s film incentives soon see a sequel?

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Mark Adler (AKA Philo Farnsworth) called this to my attention this morning.   He said it was the top story on the Detroit Free Press this morning.

Could Michigan’s film incentives soon see a sequel?

Could the announcement regarding Steven Soderbergh bringing to the Motor City his 1950s era crime drama, “Kill Switch,” (which we wrote of last week), and the casting call for extras for this production be a precursor of things to come?

Could this be more than simply a one-off, in which essential scenes are shot, and the production moves on to another state?

Hollywood productions and casting calls were quite common throughout the state during Michigan’s film incentives.  And hundreds, if not thousands of actors/actresses, and crew members throughout the state auditioned for whatever roles each production entailed.

Well, a headline in the Detroit Free Press (the Freep) Business Section this morning. (February 29, 2020) read “New Michigan film incentives could bring back Hollywood, jobs,  and cash.”   Could this be more than a tease, or could Michigan’s film incentives be restored? Or if needed, could Michigan’s film incentives start anew? Could Michigan once again see emergence as one of the Film Capitals of the North?

For many individuals throughout the state, this would certainly be the answer to prayers prayed since the last Governor and administration saw fit to kill Michigan’s 2008 film incentives.

Twelve years ago, Michigan saw the most generous film incentives of any state in the country.  While Louisiana was the first to offer film incentives in 1992, other states followed and created their own.  Today thirty-eight states offer film incentives.

To stand out from the others,  the departing Governor Granholm (D) knew she had to make Michigan’s incentives bigger and better than ever. So Michigan was gifted with a $250 Million/42% tax incentive.  But Governor Rick Snyder (R) scaled back and eventually snuffed Michigan’s film incentives.  They ceased in 2015.  In his eight years in service, we were able to see exactly how popular and successful his many efforts were.

Many people argued that the timing was wrong.  As a state, we were still reeling from the deepest recession we had seen since the Great Depression, and as such, taxpayers could little afford the burden that these taxes imposed. Others argued that these incentives created jobs and billions of dollars to Michigan’s economy.

Well, Michigan has since recovered from those dark and desperate times.  Michigan’s economy has turned around, and the Michigan Film Industry Association thinks the time is right to restore Michigan’s film incentives as they work on new legislation and plan to sell it to lawmakers in Lansing.

State Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Huntington Woods has been working with the film association on the legislation and drumming up support in Lansing.  Although there are those who may still be opposed to these efforts,  others are optimistic about the prospect of incentives making a return appearance.

Michigan has long been an important incubator for great art.  As a state, it has contributed much in terms of talent to Hollywood since its birth. The film incentives can build on this well-deserved reputation by making sure that worthy projects get the marketing time and attention they deserve.

Many voices are needed at the table to help make the best decision as to the direction to go in this legislation.  The Michigan Film Industry Association is holding a “friend-raiser” Wednesday night at Fantasee Lighting at the Claridge Building in Detroit as they invite others to join them (517-580-7710).

Free Press article. Read into this article what you may.  For many throughout Michigan, it spells hope.

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