After a comparatively quiet first quarter, Michigan is looking forward to a tremendous amount of spring and summer activity.
It gets off to a high octane start April 18 in Detroit with Sony Pictures’ action-adventure “S.W.A.T.: Fire Fight,” based on the 1970s TV series, directed by Benny Boom (“Next Day Air”) and starring Robert Patrick.
“Salvation Boulevard,” the Pierce Brosnan comedic thriller will get underway in May. Horror comedy “Vamps,” starring Alicia Silverstone, commences in June. Wes Craven’s “Scream 4” comes to film in Ann Arbor in mid-June.
Also scheduled for Detroit principal photography are “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas,” “30 Minutes or Less,” “The Double,” “Transformers 3” and “Northern Lights.”
The biggest-budget production will be DreamWorks' “Real Steel,” an action boxing drama starring Hugh Jackman, set in the near-future where 2,000 pound robots that look like humans do battle. Filming will start June 15 for 70 days in the Detroit area.
Last year, Michigan was host to a total of 49 projects, mostly features, but also a TV series and several feature-length docs. (See list below.)
But in order for Michigan to keep pace with the increasing flow of entertainment projects it needs to build a sustainable infrastructure.
Towards this end, the Michigan Film Office in late 2009 hired Richard Jewell as its workforce development director.
His main task it is to standardize and organize the many different skills needed to support a new creative economy.
Jewell, who is developing a basic competencies document, is leading a skills’ alliance of educational institutions and other stakeholders.
An example of this alliance is a very promising educational opportunity: the partnering of Wayne County Community College and IATSE.
This partnership provides for Detroit residents to receive grants for classroom training by IATSE members. They are then embedded into working film sets where they are paid to work alongside union workers, as a fast track to union membership and more feature film opportunities.
This model may be duplicated in other parts of the state.
The goal of the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council (MFOAC) is to increase the film labor pool in a short time. The current number of ready local crew available depends on who you speak to, but seems to be in the range of two to four films.
Through the recently unveiled MFOAC multi-university program, students would be trained in above- and below-the-line skills. Students in this pilot program, which is a collaboration among Wayne State, Michigan State and the University of Michigan, would work together to develop, script, shoot and edit a film.
Organizations such as the Michigan Production Alliance (MPA) have taken it upon themselves to fast track an indigenous creative community. Incentives have kick-started the industry here, although Michigan has been a commercial production center for over 50 years. Now it’s up to the local industry to make it all stick.
On April 22, non-profit MPA sponsored a summit for investors and their agents to understand what to look for in pitches from filmmakers. Until now, Michigan hasn’t had enough reason or interest to support a financial/legal community with expertise in film financing.
Like the entire landscape, this is changing. The hope is to create foundations that will allow the community to grow and maintain Michigan as a viable production center in the United States.
For more about the Michigan Production Alliance, see www.mpami.org/.
Completed 2009 Michigan-made Productions
“Up in the Air” - Paramount Pictures
“Betty Ann Waters” - Innocence Productions, Inc.
“Hopeful Notes” - Red Future Entertainment, LLC
“Oogie Loves in the Big Balloon Adventure” - Big Balloon Adventure Movie, LLC
“Caught in the Crossfire” - Caught in Crossfire, LLC
“Stone” - Stone Productions, Inc.
“The Irishman” - Sweet William Productions, LLC
“Hung” TV series - Hangman Films Inc. / HBO
“What If” - What If Productions, LLC
“The Lake Effect” - Growing Up, LLC
“Crash Course” - Crash Course Productions, Inc.
“Meltdown” - Meltdown Productions, LLC
“Clark Family Christmas” - Karew Records, LLC
“Capitalism: A Love Story” - Front Street Productions, LLC
“Flipped” - East of Doheny
“Jump Shipp” - Dot&Cross, LLC
“The Genesis Code” - American Saga Productions, LLC
“Trivial Pursuits” - 3,4 Women Productions
“The Next Great Mission” - 45 North Productions, Inc.
“Little Murder” - Cine Grande Films
“Fitful” - Fitful Film Associates, Inc.
“Daisy Tells a Secret” - One of Us Films, LLC
“Annabelle and Bear” - Radish Creative Group
“John, The Revelator” - Revelator Movie, LLC
“Alleged” - Dean River Productions
“You Don't Know Jack” - Royal Oak Films, Inc.
“Grey Skies” - Grey Skies, LLC
“The Domino Effect” - Detroit Film Production Services, Inc.
“Highland Park” - Highland Park Productions, LLC
“What's Wrong With Virginia?” - Tic Tock Studios
“Vanishing on 7th Street” - Vanishing Film LLC
Game of Death - Game of Death Productions, LLC
Mooz-Lum - Peace Film, LLC
Secrets In The Walls - Prospect Park Productions, LLC —Ruth L Ratny