Monday, February 28, 2011

Lost before it even got started.


I live in the state of Michigan, Detroit specifically, and it's no newsflash that the state is struggling no matter how many ultra-cool commercials we show with Eminem in them preaching about a Chrysler. The big news locally is that our governor is on the verge, if he hasn't done so already, of eliminating or severely reducing the extremely generous Michigan Film Credit that was put in place by the previous regime.

In brief if you make a movie in Michigan, for every dollar you spend we will give 42 cents back. But I think you only get that entire 42 cents if you use 100 Michigan residents for your production, but I might be mistaken there.

Now I'm not here to myopically support this tax credit because there are issues with this thing which I am way under qualified to discuss, but with everything else in this great nation of ours it centers around money and how it's distributed. But what I do know is that for the last few years we have actually had a movie industry right here in the great state of Michigan.

In the last couple of weeks alone I have seen and reviewed a good half dozen movies that were shot and set in and around the Detroit area. 'Stone' with Robert DeNiro, 'Vanishing on 7th Street' with Hayden Christensen, 'Gun' with Val Kilmer and Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, 'Game of Death' with Wesley Snipes, the 'Mechanic' remake and the 'Swat' sequel just to name a few of the many productions which have setup shop in town, and naturally it's all because of these tax breaks.

I'm not an accountant, I can't tell anybody with any degree of certainty what financial benefits or lack thereof these productions have meant for my state, but I can tell you from a personal standpoint that the emotional benefits have been immeasurable. There's nothing like watching places you know, places you've been, seeing people you know on a movie screen. Watching movies made in Detroit and in Michigan in general makes me feel good. And if people are feeling good then people stick around as opposed to picking up a going elsewhere to find a career like an awful lot of our young college grads are doing. Particularly the ones in the arts.

It's a little too late at this point because what's done is done because many of the productions that were on the way or were in pre-production have packed up shop and moved elsewhere. Uncertainty, I'm told, is a bad thing in the movie business. This is one reason why we movie-watchers are forced to watched sequels and remakes and remakes of sequels. Oh well, being a player for a couple of years sure was fun. I hope the governor has a plan.