The Tuesday late afternoon event and cocktail party was staged at the WGAw Theater in Beverly Hills. The panel was made up of two producers who based in Livonia and Troy, Michigan. One producer was an independent just completing post on a feature, the other a line producer who worked on a Alex Payne HBO pilot. Both had great things to say about the areas people, cooperation between the film offices, cities and production companies. Both productions brought in most of their crews from LA, picked up other positions from the hall and bought some local talent. No one could say anything but praise for the hotel accommodations and the cost savings in the market vs. shooting in LA (although, not the best comparison).
Other panelist included, Teamsters 337 Business Agent, Patrick Dougherty, acknowledging their stable of qualified personnel growing as the Teamsters and IA conduct film educational seminars. IATSE International Vice President Timothy Magee, assured the audience the hall could handle filming crew requests. However, when MPC Chairman, John Cummings asked how many films could the area handle at one time, Magee hesitated then said, "six". Cummings then asked, "if I'm number #7 (seventh film shooting) can I recruit IA crews from other areas example: Chicago or Florida and will they be classified, Local Hire", the answer was ,"NO"! It seems Mr. Magee wants to work with producers, but the area is so new, issues may be looked at on an individual production needs and budget based off current IA agreements. A grip and lighting house pushed they're 'one stop' services never mentioning any other vendors in the region, which seem to leave many of the 'LA pros' with questions and lack of unity.
"I not sure they sold me on the area," MPC Chairman, Producer/Director John Cummings said, "they actually left me with more questions. The Convention Bureau staff is great and everyone wants to help (at least for now). The hotel people seem to be offering great incentives with 'open arms', as well as other production services. Lets face it...they need business now! But, trying to push facilities not yet in place, but soon to come becomes a hard sell in Hollywood, no one wants to be first in a post-house or sound stage."
MPC is accustom to new filming regions, being a founding company to bring in over 25 million dollars of production and related activity to Florida when it first came into the game during the '80 and '90's. "I understand the struggles" Cummings said, " I'm a Detroiter and want to help where I can, but I will maintain, MPC will not compromise any production to save a buck". I'm not sure if Michigan put the 'cart before the horse' or if they even had a choice...I do applaud their enthusiasm."
MPC plans to bring one feature to Detroit and possibly a 'MOW' [movie of the week], even though the incentive package still doesn't seem a smooth path for filmmakers. The incentive package was made for accountants, tax lawyers and politicians, not filmmakers. In spite of the convoluted incentive requirements, Michigan has become very "film friendly" while pushing for businesses to relocate or have an employee base. The concept is great, but filmmakers are in and out, like a circus...could Michigan be asking too much? In the end, if filmmakers find that bringing in crews or gear from out-of-state because Michigan over sells itself, then the incentive is only worth half, which 17-21% is an average percentage almost any state in the Union offers...and most likely, just as friendly. Plus, you don't have to wait until you file your taxes the following year to see your cash!
Detroit and Michigan have some great locations to make films, which MPC will take full advantage for "GOOD NEWS BLUES". Cummings commented, "its all new, the people are trying, it'll take enough of us in the real 'biz' to help them along the way...they still have a commercial mentality, right now MPC is willing to take that chance."
About 200+ production people from the Hollywood community attended the event. The cocktail party was great for mingling with industry colleagues and some old Michiganders. Nice evening, special thanks to Xenia Castillo-Hunter and Film Detroit for organizing the get together.