See government at work during Traverse City Film Festival
TRAVERSE CITY, MI (July 26, 2009) – The Michigan Film Office Advisory Council will hold its first-ever meeting at a film festival when it convenes in Traverse City on Friday, July 31.
The council will conduct business in the public forum as part of the series of free morning panels offered at 9:30 a.m. daily at the historic City Opera House. The group usually meets every other month in different locations around Michigan. Traverse City Film Festival Founder and Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is a member of the council and will participate in the meeting. Janet Lockwood, director of the Michigan Film Office, said the agenda is likely to include some discussion of how Michigan’s film tax incentives, which return between 30 and 42 percent of money spent in production in Michigan back to the filmmakers, are working. That, she said, can be summed up in two words: very well.
“We have the best incentive in America,” said Lockwood. “The state of our industry is better than it’s ever been in the industry in the state. “As a result, people are coming to shoot here in goodly numbers and spending a lot of money and hiring a lot of local people.”
Lockwood said 35 projects were approved for the incentives in 2008 and that applications this year are at 66 and counting.
“In Michigan a dozen have already shot,” she said.
Lockwood said the debut of a studio facility for large-scale filming near Manistee, Ten West, with Raleigh Michigan Studios expected in Pontiac and Unity Studios coming to Allen Park also bode well to not only attract more movie-makers, but ideally, TV production.
“They will come here to make their films, but they won’t come here to make their television series until we have stages on the ground …great huge studios, at least 40 feet high, to create a set inside away from the elements. That’s what a stage is – a filming location impervious to the weather.”
While Traverse City has significant potential as a location for film shoots, it could be a bitter draw if it, too, could eventually get a movie studio.
“Traverse City has a lot going for it and if we could get a permanent piece of infrastructure built up there, it would be terrific,” Lockwood said. “We, the film office, sell it a lot. Because of the look you have, we have three movies looking at it right now. Will any of them shoot in Traverse City? I don’t know.” Moore is making his new film, “Capitalism: A Love Story” in Michigan. Not only was footage shot in the state, but the film is being produced in Michigan, too.
Recently, “Youth in Revolt,” a new film from director Miguel Arteta, was shot in Leelanau County and Traverse City about a year ago. Drew Barrymore was in Frankfort and Frankenmuth to produce “Whip It.” Both are slated to be in theaters this fall, Lockwood said.
Meanwhile, she warned, while the industry her organization represents is all about entertainment, it doesn’t necessarily mean the council meetings follow suit.
“It is, after all, a meeting of a gubernatorial council,” she said. “If they’re coming to expect entertainment, unless someone in this body has talent I don’t know about – this is a business meeting.
“I don’t know how it will play on stage. On the other hand, we’ve got Michael.”