The Newest Little Hollywood: Michigan Incentives Draw Filmmakers


Director Sam Raimi is just one of many producers and directors opting of late to take their films to Michigan in lieu of other popular filming locations. Born and raised in Oakland County, Michigan, Raimi plans to begin shooting a small-budget thriller tentatively titled Room 205. As Raimi put it, Room 205 is “A neat screenplay” about “a haunted dormroom that will become a lovely, bright Midwestern university and tell about how kids become adjusted to their new surroundings. In the midst of that, the supernatural will rear its terrifying head.”

While cities like New Orleans are closing their doors to the movie industry—repealing the incentives previously offered to filmmakers and production companies for shooting in the city (and most likely making The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the last film to be shot in New Orleans for some time)—Michigan chose in 2007 to roll out the most generous incentives offered to the film industry to date. Communities from New Mexico to New Zealand traditionally have offered large tax breaks and cheap labor incentives in order to tap into a part of the nearly $60 billion generated by the film industry each year. According to The Oakland Press, Michigan now offers up to 42 percent in tax rebates to moviemakers just for shooting projects with a budget of at least $50,000 there.

Besides Raimi, other big Hollywood names that have visited Michigan for myriad projects since the incentives program was put in place include Clint Eastwood, Drew Barrymore, the Weinstein Brothers, Sigourney Weaver, Cuba Gooding Jr., Steve Buscemi, and Kim Cattrell. In addition, Clint Eastwood’s recently released Gran Torino was filmed exclusively in Michigan, along with Barrymore’s upcoming release Whip It!

According to several rumors, Allen Park, Michigan is also the target of an unnamed Hollywood movie executive who is bent on building a $100-million production studio there. The negotiations between this executive and Allen Park are nearly completed and an announcement about the project is expected to be made sometime this year.

Even before Michigan instituted its incentive packages, many filmmakers and producers flocked there for a cheaper price of filming. In 2001 alone the state saw a record $20 million in revenue from the filming of several movies, including 8 Mile, American Pie 2, and Road to Perdition. Although the state’s film-generated income plunged to only $2 million in 2006, Michigan hopes to push its numbers back towards the $20 million mark—no small feat in the current economy.

Paige graduated from Wheaton College in May 2008 with a degree in English: Modern and Contemporary Culture and Media and a minor in Psychology. She currently works for a medical device consulting company in North Attleboro, MA as a Clinical Data Manager working on clinical trials of medical devices. In her spare time, Paige enjoys expanding her DVD collection, going to the movies, and catching up on new TV shows. She loves writing about and watching film noir, B horror films, and action movies with a lot of shooting, blood, guts, and preferably zombies or vampires.

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