Is Michigan Losing Its Spotlight?

Red_One_KameraMichigan is known for its Great Lakes, unpredictable weather, and, to the film community, its film incentives.

Since 2008, the film incentives have been helping production companies get tax breaks. These tax breaks encourage filmmakers to produce their entertainment in Michigan. This also applies to television and digital media (video games).

In order to get these tax breaks, the productions must spend a set amount of money in Michigan. They are then reward with a certain percentage of the spent money back.

A recent bill is hoping to cut these incentives altogether, in order to save money. However, $50 million is only a 1/10 of 1% of Michigan’s budget. In return, many job opportunities have been created.

What you should know:

  • In December 2014 the Michigan legislature voted to extend film incentives to 2021.
  • However, on October 21, 2015 a bill passed in the House, 58-51, to cut these incentives.
  • Now the Senate must vote to kill or keep these incentives.

The incentives have caused movies like 30 Minutes or Less (Jesse Eisenberg), Oz: The Great and Powerful (James Franco), and the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice to be filmed in our state.

“As a young filmmaker and someone who has grown up in Michigan, I have always been a big supporter of the state. However without film incentives, once I graduate I will most likely be forced to go elsewhere to look for jobs. With so many colleges and universities in Michigan offering majors in film, the state’s choice makes me wonder how many taxpayers and citizens it may lose in the coming years because of a few politicians choices to damage an industry that is viable for many young professionals.” said film major Jacob Fisher.

Associate professor Dorie Shelby said

“Without film incentives, films won’t be made in Michigan. That’s just reality.  All but a dozen or so states offer varying degrees of tax breaks to filmmakers. What I fear people lose sight of, is the fact that Michigan’s incentive package was never designed solely to attract Hollywood Fat Cat.  It was designed, and is still intended, to make production a viable industry in this state by giving tax breaks to local industry professionals who work in production that’s outside of the blockbuster feature film.  The incentives were meant to kickstart the industry that also produces local programming, television commercials, content for the web, video games, and a host of other production related businesses. In my view, cutting the incentives is short sighted and a blow to what could be a thriving and prosperous industry in Michigan.”

No dates have been released for the Senate’s opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

“Ever since the end of Jennifer Granholm’s term as governor, the film incentives  have become an arguing point between republicans and democrats, with few exceptions. Hopefully in the weeks to come Michigan taxpayers will be able to see their politicians put aside party differences in order to come to an honest and viable decision regarding the future of Michigan’s film incentives and ultimately the film industry that currently exists in Michigan.” Fisher said.

By Courtney Applebee