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WATCH: Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) is Available for the Hollywood Film Industry

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Local News / Entertainment

Sunday, 1 March, 2009 9:24 PM

Detroit Metro Airport offers four unique terminals for filmmakers

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A look inside the former L.C. Smith terminal, which is available for filming.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

WATCH: Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) is Available for the Hollywood Film Industry

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ROMULUS, Mich. -- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) features four terminals that are available for filmmakers. Two of the terminals are completely new -- McNamara and North while the other two terminals are no longer in operation -- Smith and Berry. The airport has been used as the location for ABC's "The Prince of the Motor City" and "Homeland Security". It will be used this week for the new George Clooney film "Up in the Air". The airport is attractive to filmmakers due to the state's 42 percent tax incentive for filmmakers who choose to do their work in Michigan.

"Up in the Air" is based on the novel by Walter Kirn and will be directed by Jason Reitman, who also directed "Juno". The film also stars Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick and Tamala Jones. The movie will shoot scenes in the Berry and McNamara terminals.

Two of the terminals are currently being used for travelers. The other two are empty, with the exception for the Wayne County Airport Authority offices in the Smith Terminal. All of the ticket counters, phone booths, luggage carousels, former restaurants and coffee shops remain in the building, although they are no longer in use. Most of the signs within the closed terminals remain in the same spot when the airport was open for business. The interior can be customized by set designers if they choose to do so.

"We now have two vacant terminals, the Smith Terminal and also the Berry Terminal, which is a shell of a fully working airport," said Scott Wintner, Public Affairs Specialist at the Wayne County Airport Authority. "It doesn't have any of the conflicts of dealing with traveling public or security in such so the timing couldn't have been better for these incentives. We have two beautiful studios for them to use for a film set."

The McNamara Terminal opened in February 2002. It houses Northwest Airlines, Continental, Delta, KLM and Air France. The terminal features three concourses with 122 gates. A 1.5-mile long moving walkway transports passengers from one end of the terminal to the other. Restaurants include Starbucks, Chili's, McDonald's, Little Caesars, Burger King, TCBY, Max & Erma's, Quiznos, Hungry Howie's, Mrs. Fields, Edy's, Jose Cuervo's Tequileria, Mediterranean Grill, Taco Bell, Rio Wraps, Caribou Coffee and Charley's.

The North Terminal opened in September 2008. Naming rights are currently up for bid. It houses Air Canada, AirTran, American Airlines, American Eagle, Frontier Airlines, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, Southwest, Spirit, United, US Airways and USA3000. It houses 24 gates with two more opening this year. Four moving walkways transport passengers from one end to the other. Restaurants include Champps, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Hockeytown Cafe, National Coney Island, Max & Erma's, Le Petite Bistro and TGI Friday's.

The Berry Terminal opened in 1974 and is no longer in use. It was decommissioned on Sept. 17, 2008 and replaced by the North Terminal. It contains six gates (two of which were removed in 2003).

The Smith Terminal opened in 1957 and is no longer in use. It features 32 gates and is the main terminal being used by Hollywood filmmakers. It featured three concourses with one of them already demolished.

"We're the only airport in North America that i'm aware of that allows folks into an active terminal," said Wintner. "Even Los Angeles airport that get's a ton of business from the film industry, they are very restrictive of using spaces that are currently occupied by airlines and passengers. We've been able to accommodate folks at the McNamara Terminal and now at the North Terminal. Yet to have anyone shoot at the North Terminal, but they are welcome to."

"Part of the reason is we have so much capacity here. We don't have the overcrowding that most airports have in the country. That was well-planned. I mean that was intentional. As a result, we've got room to allow our facilities to be used in a number of different ways. We allow film crews to come in. We do charge modest location fees and of course security on top of that when necessary. Really our goal is to offset our costs and not so much to necessarily make a killing."

Some production companies allow passengers to be extras while others select their own extras and require waivers to be filled out. Decisions are based on production companies at the time of filming.

The Wayne County Airport Authority offices will move to a new facility in a few years. The Smith and Berry Terminals will eventually be torn down. Filmmakers have a couple of years left to take advantage of these two vacant terminals before they're gone.

"Until we find the money to do that, there's still very much an airport-like feel," Wintner said. "Again, being unsecured and being vacant, it's an ideal set for a scene perhaps that takes place in a bag claim."

Interested filmmakers should contact Scott Winter at (734) 955-3745 or at scott.wintner@wcaa.us.

RELATED STORY: Former MGM Grand Detroit Casino to be transformed into a movie studio

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The former Spirit Airlines ticket counter inside the Smith Terminal.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Smith Terminal still has the look an feel of an airport for filmmakers even though it's no longer in use.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Terminal "C" has been torn down for the expansion of the new North Terminal.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

More ticket counters that can be used for making films.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The former exterior of the Jose Cuervo Tequileria restaurant.

 

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