Another Town Hall Meeting about the Michigan film incentives is on the books. This one was held at the Lowing studios, Grand Rapids. As was the Detroit Town Hall, this one was well attended.
As I arrived late, thanks to bum directions given me by my GPS, I arrived just as they were wrapping up. With the questions asked, and the answers that I heard, I got an entirely different vibe.
John W. BosleyGlad to see Grand Rapids is in the discussion. This needs to impact all parts of the state.
Joel Paul Reisig This bill is written by a very few below the line union workers, for their own benefit only. They did not consult a single Michigan producer. We all need to call our reps and made sure this disaster of a bill does not pass.
Joel Paul Reisig I’m sure they’re not happy. This does not change the fact that not a single producer from our state was consulted.
Yes, there are many here who have been in the business longer than I have. Some for longer than I have been alive. This again does not change the facts. None of them have ever gone out and raised the capital it takes to make money, then spearheaded distribution as a fiduciary responsibility to get their investors an ROI.
David W. King There is a difference between facts and opinions, no matter how dear you hold your opinions. Included in this group are state reps.
Joel Paul Reisig, Would I attend a round table discussion if invited? Yes.
David W. King No, but as a sponsor of the bill, and someone who has been following this since its inception, I know what has gone into crafting this bill.
Have you been on their site? The site reads:
We encourage individuals, companies, and venues who want to support film and television work in Michigan to reach out to us.
We can make this happen.
Joel Paul Reisig I’ve stated facts, and I’ve done so nicely. Nothing I have said is disrespectful. You’ve been distrustful to me, but I don’t care. These things don’t affect me.
You state that many many producers were consulted. Yet you can’t name any? Let me help you. Did you talk to me? Lance Kawas? Harley Wallen? Sam Logan? Phil Wurtzel? Nancy Oeswein? Dennis Reed? Rich Brauer? DJ Perry? Melissa Kerley? Shane Hagedorn? Daniel Knudsen? …
You say “including me”. Brian, you’re not a producer. Let’s not worry about whether or not you have ever heard of me, IMDB has never heard of you. You appear, like yourself, in one documentary. I’m honestly not trying to be disrespectful, I’m simply stating a fact. Everything online says you’re a musician. Nothing points to you being a movie producer.
Joel Paul Reisig this one is 100% the same. It is designed to get high paying jobs, at everyone’s expense, for a few union workers. The bulk of Michigan will once again be looked at as PAs and extras.
David R. Lowing yes, so far it’s crafted mostly for lower budget films with limits on spending to keep it more local. This is good for Michigan producers and actors
Nancy Oeswein tbh, I don’t often agree with Joel about almost anything, and even in this the right words are not always chosen. But Not one of the many mi producers I know has been involved or invited to be involved in this. And David, the question you reiterated from the website doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the bill or meetings or input. In fact, when this was starting, I reached out twice to a state rep that posted about getting input on this, and I never heard back. In my email, I noted my unique perspective with history as a producer raising and risking both my and others’ money, as a crew member, a produced screenwriter, and as the parent of a professional union actor.
I’ve never heard about a town hall before the fact, except for one 4 hours away from me. The many posts now all seem to be about ginning up support for a package written by a handful of people. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone with different ideas shouted down instead of being listened to. I think there are better, albeit more complex ideas, for truly building a sustainable industry and not just throwing a pot of money at a program that benefits a fraction of the creatives in Michigan and gets eaten up by a handful of big-budget studios who will ride the next incentive out of town. Sorry, but this is my initial takeaway from what I’ve read.
Regarding the questions I asked Joel, I didn’t ask them to shout him down. These are questions that have to be answered if Joel’s ideas are to be considered. As much as you agree with Joel, have you read Joel’s ideas? I am not asking this to negate any ideas he has. I offered him an opportunity to present his ideas, as I believe his and others are voices that must be heard in this discussion.
In fact, to Joel’s shortlist of producers in this state, we should add, not to take anything away from those Joel mentioned, but to give these their due, Dennis Reed II, Darren Brown, Lorenzo Pierson, Lezar Favors, Jason Allen, Dylan Sides, Treagen Kiers, Jamal Hines, and others. No one should be left out of this mix. This is the reason why I think that having a round-table discussion would be a good idea. Everyone’s voice should be heard in this discussion.
But, without wishing to put too fine a point on this, a state’s film industry is more than (and I am not saying this derogatorily) a state’s narrative storytellers. There is also the commercial, advertising, and television. Often when engaged in something, we can easily forget about other parts of things, other aspects of something employing people. The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking, i.e., film production companies, film studios, cinematography, animation, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post-production, film festivals, distribution, and actors. Michigan’s film industry encompasses a whole lot more. It also includes supporting businesses like David Lowing’s Light and Grip and his studio.
Joel Paul Reisig The thing is, and if I’m wrong someone please correct me, these are not round table meetings with people exchanging ideas with equal time. They are lectures. A few union workers tell you about the bill they want, while you sit in the audience.
David W. King Joel Paul Reisig what does a round-table discussion mean to you, Joel? When it happens, it will be just that. No lectures. Following Robert’s Rules of Order, each attending party will be given equal time to present their concerns. If someone does not attend these meetings because they do not want to legitimize the proceedings, should they be given a voice? Should their concerns be recognized? When iys stated that they did not attend because they were not personally invited, and they receive a personal invitation. what should be thought then?
David W. King Joel Paul Reisig Now, in case you missed it, Joel, I mentioned some of the many aspects that the film industry encompasses. As challenging as it has been to craft what the film incentives look like now, imagine how much more would have to be added to encompass all of that giving every aspect of the film industry giving each a proportionate weight.
Joel Paul Reisig David W. King no I cannot. I don’t think anyone can. Even back in 2008 there were two large accounting firms that tried to do just that, and they came up with drastically different numbers.
I understand. The reason why I ask is that as I understand it, these incentives are set up as loans from the state, not grants. Normally, in business, this is one of the questions asked. When you apply for these loans, the state will ask you for this information, the dollars and cents. When you submit all of the required paperwork, you will have to wait for the state processes the loan, and as has been answered at the last couple of these Town Halls,this may take up to a year for reimbursement. Unless you can answer this, and how much your productions have made, you may be declined that loan.