Friday, February 18, 2011

Say Goodbye to Hollywood

"So many faces in and out of my life
Some will last
Some will just be now and then..."

A proposal in Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's budget to end the state's generous film industry incentives and cap Michigan film tax credits at $25 million a year will mean a loss of jobs, an exodus of talent and an end to big budget movies being filmed in the state, industry insiders say.

Philippe Martinez, CEO of Maxsar Studios in Livonia, Michigan, said he has been preparing himself for the last few weeks for such an announcement from the governor.

"It will definitely kill hundreds of jobs," Martinez said. His studio currently employs 50 people and he had plans to hire 50 more this year — but those plans are over.

"Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again..."

"It's a slap in the face to those who invested money in Michigan's film industry," (film industry consultant Ken) Droz said, adding that thousands of dollars have been invested in building the state's film industry work force.

One goal of the film incentives, Droz said, was to stop the brain drain of creative people in Michigan and give them a reason — and the jobs they needed — to stay in the state. Those workers who trained for the film industry will now be asking themselves if they'll need to leave Michigan to find work. Droz is one of them. "After I left the Film Office, I decided to start a consulting business and set down roots in Southfield," he said. "Now I may have to leave."

"Say goodbye to Hollywood..."

Jeff Daniels was outspoken Thursday in his disappointment with Gov. Rick Snyder's plans for the future of the Michigan film incentives.

"The sound you hear today is of people packing and leaving the state," Daniels said by phone, describing the potential impact of Snyder's budget proposal, which would eliminate the film tax credit as we now know it.

Daniels said Snyder told him privately that he didn't want to eliminate the incentives and discussed reductions in the current rate, which is up to 42%, and asked him what effect reductions would have.

"It's really disheartening," Daniels said of Snyder's budget plan. "It's not what he told me privately, so to be honest, I guess he's a politician after all. Say one thing, do another."

"Say goodbye, my baby..."

"It makes no sense to eliminate a program that has actually been creating jobs," said documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, a member of the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council. "The champagne corks are coming off in (rivals) Louisiana, New Mexico and North Carolina."

Michigan has been ranking third each month for film production work, trailing only California and New York, Moore said.

"Say goodbye to Hollywood..."

The proposed cut in incentives comes as Michigan is building an infrastructure for year-round filming. The new $80-million Raleigh Michigan Studios in Pontiac is planning to open this spring, and two other smaller studios are already operating. The cutbacks in the incentives could force the studios to close.

"Say goodbye, my baby..."

Headline in Variety: "Michigan Gov. to film biz: Drop dead"

A little traveling music for the creative class, who now will be leaving our state again...

We were cool for a minute. Someday you can tell your kids about it. Before they pack up and leave, that is.

UPDATE 2/19: Read about more companies who are canceling plans to hire and/or leave the state from the AP.
And more 2/20: Mitch Albom blows a nut in today's Freep over the loss of this industry, and confirms Daniel's story about Snyder's dishonesty on the issue.