Matt Roush

When it comes to Michigan's film and video production tax credits, most of the talk has been about movies like "Gran Torino" and celebrity sightings around the state.

But the credits have also spawned a growing video game and animation production industry here.

A perfect example is Pixofactor Entertainment, where six partners and an ever-changing cast of contractor animators and graphic artists work on a wide variety of projects.

Principal and president Sean Hurwitz, a serial entrepreneur and one of the six partners, said the company was created in 2007 and took its present form in September 2009, when it took on a couple of video game creators, Michael Bolden and Jeremiah Strackbein, who are graduates of Lawrence Technological University and the College for Creative Studies respectively. The two initially set up their company in Florida but returned to Michigan in 2008 to take advantage of those much-discussed state tax breaks for the movie and video industries.

Hurwitz said the company conducts three major kinds of work:

* Work for hire on projects, in both live action films and animation for video games. "We build pieces of both of them," Hurwitz said.
* Licensing of content and getting local investors to develop that content. Pixofactor is currently working with local angel investors on project development, including Farmington Hills-based Envy Capital.
* Creating its own content and trying to develop it into films or games.

"We've got this team of experts now and we're in a position of strength and opportunity," Hurwitz said.

Projects now under way include a TV series based on a graphic novel called 'The Hunter,' which shows the aftermath of a coordinated series of terrorist attacks on the United States, including an A-bomb explosion at LAX in Los Angeles, an oil refinery sabotage in Houston, a toxic chemical release at the New York Stock Exchange and a biowar release in Boston.

"It's in development now as a pilot," Hurwitz said. "The intention is to take the pilot to several interested networks prior to distributing across digital platforms."

Other conversions of graphic novels are also in the works.

The company has also attracted local video veterans like Gary May, who is the company's head of live production, and Chris Firestone, head of creative services, who brings 20 years of experience in digital production and who has developed relationships and alliances throughout the Hollywood entertainment and production industry. They have also attracted people back to Michigan like Nancy Kelley, Pixofactor's marketing and business development leader, who spent the past 10 years at several startups in the Silicon Valley.

The company is based in some very cool real estate on the fourth floor of a downtown Royal Oak building on West Fourth Street.

Whatever your opinion of the film tax incentives, Hurwitz wanted to make one thing clear.

"Without those incentives in Michigan, this doesn't happen," he said. "We wouldn't be hiring local talent. We wouldn't be leasing this building. We wouldn't be getting investor money."

More -- including some amazing and fun demo reels -- at Or join their Facebook page at

Jen Carlson

Over the weekend Patti Smith and Jonathan Lethem went face-to-face in the Great Hall of Cooper Union to discuss, you know, stuff. The Q&A format had Smith on the receiving end of questions from the author as well as some audience members. According to VanshingNY, one woman asked if it was still possible for a young artist to come to New York City and find a similar path that Smith and her contemporaries found themselves on decades ago.

The Godmother of Punk recalled coming to New York in 1967 when she was broke and the city was "'down and out,' and you could get a cheap apartment and 'build a whole community of transvestites or artists or writers.'" But today, she says, "New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling. But there are other cities. Detroit. Poughkeepsie. New York City has been taken away from you. So my advice is: Find a new city."

And with that, we're now living in a world where Patti Smith and Sarah Jessica Parker are pretty much telling us the same thing. Heavy.
Jessica Nunez 

Hugh Jackman will play a robot boxer builder and trainer in the upcoming sci-fi film 'Real Steel.'
The action movie "Real Steel," which will film in Detroit in late July, is looking for people who own military uniforms -- from any branch -- to act as extras in the film. says to send a photo of yourself dressed in uniform to, and to put your name and the word "Uniform" in the subject line. Also, be sure to include your phone number in teh email.

They are asking that no emails be sent for other inquiries at this time.

"Real Steel"  takes place in the future and stars Hugh Jackman as a fighter who is suddenly without a job when robots take over the boxing industry.

He decides to reinvent himself as a robot builder and trainer. the movie is based on a story by Richard Matheson ("I Am Legend"), and is produced by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider.

"Real Steel" will be directed by Shawn Levy (the "Night at the Museum" films).

In addition to Detroit, filming will take place in parts of West Michigan and at a restaurant in Leslie, Mich., near Jackson.

The film has a budget of $80 million, the biggest in Michigan so far since the tax incentives were inititated in 2008.

John Cutts    
Real Estate Pros Articles 

Despite the continued increase in Detroit foreclosure auctions, high rate of unemployment and image problems, a big portion of Detroit residents still love living in the city.

A survey conducted by Intellitrends showed that 50 percent of residents of Detroit and other areas of Southeast Michigan love living where they are and 91 percent of them believe that Southeast Michigan has been portrayed negatively by media practitioners. 

Additionally, 51 percent of people who have moved to Detroit said they found what they were looking for and that their expectations were met. A whopping 31 percent even said that what they are experiencing as new residents exceeded their expectations. 

With these positive feelings about Detroit, investors planning to buy properties through auctions for sale in the city and then resell them at a profit in a few years would likely achieve their investment goals as there are a lot of people still believing in the ultimate recovery of Detroit.

In the third quarter, the number of residential properties that were repossessed through Detroit foreclosure auctions and properties notified of pre-foreclosures increased year-over-year by 48 percent to a total of 13,192 units.

Similarly, the number of properties taken back by lenders through public home auctions in Michigan and properties notified of pre-foreclosures in the first quarter increased by nearly 11 percent to 45,732 units. Of these units, a total of 18,604 units became bank owned homes.

On the whole, real estate investors and home buyers planning to profit from properties listed for Detroit foreclosure auctions are right on track, as there are still a lot of people confident about the recovery of Detroit.

A passion for both the sport of bowling and for the care of animals comes together in an annual charity event!  Professional bowling champions Aleta Sill and Michelle Mullen are co-owners of Aleta Sill’s Bowling World, the host of Bowl-4-Animal Rescue! This 5th annual event has a goal to once again raise thousands of dollars for the Michigan Animal Adoption Network (MAAN) and the Friends For The Dearborn Animal Shelter (FFDAS).

The event takes place on Saturday, August 7th at Country Lanes in Farmington Hills - Located at 30250 W. 9-Mile Road, west of Middlebelt Road.  Sponsorship levels vary in cost but Sill points out that everyone can help.

“We look for partners to help from simply buying a ticket and bowling, to providing auction items, to pledging a donation, to being official sponsors. We have some very valuable marketing opportunities in conjunction with this event, not to mention that sponsors will be doing a good deed!”  
***100% of the proceeds will benefit FFDAS and MAAN!*** 

To find more about sponsoring the 5th Annual Bowl-4-Animal Rescue, contact Michelle Mullen at 248-217-8275 or

Sill and Mullen share an enthusiasm for helping animals.  They have adopted eight animals themselves! “The homeless animal problem in Metro Detroit has reached an epidemic level and we want to do anything we can to alleviate the problem,” said Mullen.  In 2009, the event raised $15,000 for FFDAS and MAAN.

Tickets to Bowl-4-Animal Rescue are $25 in advance (or $30 at the door) and include three games, food and shoe rental.  There will be auctions, raffles, door prizes, music, karaoke and a cash bar.  Bowlers can even have one of the professional bowlers throw a strike for them! Tickets may be purchased by calling Aleta Sill’s Bowling World at 248-615-9060 or via email:

For pledge forms, photos and event flyers, please visit: