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Local News / Entertainment

Wednesday, 28 October, 2009 1:40 AM

Filmmakers rally to save Michigan's 42 percent tax incentive

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / ©AMERICAJR.com

A large crowd at The Crofoot for the rally to save the Michigan film tax incentives on Oct. 26, 2009.

by Michele Kotlarsky
michelek@mac.com

 

PONTIAC, Mich. -- Mike Manasseri, from Big Screen Michigan introduced Wally, his cameraman, and they showed a 2-minute clip of the importance of Michigan continuing to get film incentives which was the topic of tonight's rally. The clip can be seen at bigscreenmichigan.com also a video which explains the downside of the incentive going away which can be found above the act now!

Detroit Free Press columnist and author Mitch Album was one of the speakers at the event. He strongly urged Michigan leaders in Lansing to keep the 42 percent tax incentive for filmmakers.

Highlights of Mitch Albom's speech:

1. If they cut the incentives we will be losing-other states have better incentives

2. Pass a law and change it, makes Hollywood and digital gaming nervous, insecure state passes a law and then changes it cannot let Michigan look skittish it will scare producers off. Who wants to invest in shaky ground? Nobody! We are coming across as unstable.

"There are ways to make small trims to this to make it a money saving venture without having to cut the big marquee thing that brings people to it," Albom said.

"Some people just want to attack this thing (film incentive). You cannot measure on what effect this has on our state. It is also the thought process that keeps people working to live in a state with an industry that is attractive to them. We have a natural resource of people who love this state and we need to do things to make them want to stay here. You can't figure what a new industry does. We are asking an outside industry to come in and set up shop, to give us some time to be up to their standards. We want them to use our people, but you have to let it grow."

We paid out $38 million last year but if we make a slash in this thing we will ruin this. We need to have the guts to build this industry. About 850 people showed up when they had a meeting to discuss the industry incentives two years ago, now were about 100 people at a rally with hopes they will not go away. We shouldn't kill something that reflects dreams of growth. He urged people to contact legislatures to take another look at this.

State Senator Gilda Jacobs was there and said that we have had the most competitive incentive in the nation for over a year now and the average age of people in the crowd tonight was under 30. From $1 million to $160 million was spent within one year in our state for the film industry. They are trying to cut the incentive back which will get rid of it. Detroit State Senator Hanson Clark was there, Dan Dingeman (from L. Brooks Patterson’s office) had a letter from Brooks who couldn’t be there in support of the incentives and the 35,000 new jobs it will create for our state.

Harvey Grace of Grace and Wild got up and spoke. Filmmakers were blown away by his sound studio, which is one of the biggest in the country and is located right here in Michigan. Tax incentives, for a dollar spent the state of New Mexico, filmmakers get back $1.50. New York boasts of $1.90, Louisiana claims to be getting $6.00 return. It is not going to cost this state to keep the incentive going but it will cost the state if we lose out to the film industry.

The Detroit Free Press ran an article on a movie studio run by Harold Cronk and Matt Tailford in Manistee, Mich. $100,000 a month is being put into the local economy thanks to 10 West Studio.

Owner Blair McGowen (and his son Dan), Crofoot owners, said that the legislative doesn’t understand the Michigan film incentive. Please send your stories to bigscreenmichigan.com of how the industry is helping you financially and how you feel it will help the economy and how important it is. They handed out some posters and postcards for the crowd to send to local legislators (handy mailing lists were also provided this is link to the list http://www.bigscreenmichigan.com/news.html#BillChanges).

Rodrick Casey, on behalf of Alma Wheeler Smith (D) Washtenaw country State Rep., who is a candidate for Governor, was also on hand. He said that John Cherry (D) was for the incentives, Mike Bouchard had one sentence hard to tell if he was for or against it, Andy Dillion not declared a candidate, and Ed Kalmenti from Downriver are for the program it was generally determined that Democrats seem to be for the incentive program while Republicans were not. Misinformation is being sent around from Nancy Cassis of Novi, Mich. office about the film incentives.

Than (Nathaniel) McClure gamer (Real Heroes Firefighter) was in Michigan for 72 hours before he decided to buy a house. He started a company here called Epicenter Games. The incentive also is for video games which is a larger industry than film orTV.

"The program is too young," McClure said, "to kill it now give it some time to see what it can do for our state. Most visible industry in the state is the film industry."

The three things to remember: develop stories, mail postcards to legislature and put up posters at work.

Related Story: Actor Mike Manasseri to hold rally to save Michigan film tax incentives Monday

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / ©AMERICAJR.com

Mike Manasseri of Big Screen Michigan.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / ©AMERICAJR.com

Mike Manasseri

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / ©AMERICAJR.com

State Sen. Gilda Jacobs (D)

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / ©AMERICAJR.com

Detroit Free Press columnist and author Mitch Albom

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / ©AMERICAJR.com

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / ©AMERICAJR.com

 

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