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New Legislation Aims to Bring Filmmakers to Michigan

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New bipartisan legislation was just introduced in the state house and senate. It would bring back a film incentive to attract filmmakers to the state and help the economy.

Senator Wayne Schmidt and Representative Jack O’Malley introduced the bills to create jobs and retain talent. If approved Michigan would join nearly 40 other states with incentives for filmmakers to make films right here in Michigan.

Brian Kelly is the First Chair Vice President of the Michigan Film Industry Association. He says Michigan is non-competitive in the film business.

“We feel that Michigan is missing out on tons of jobs and entrepreneurship and opportunity with the film industry and we want the state to actually be apart of the 39-plus states that actually have film incentive programs,” Kelly said.
For the past three years the Michigan Film Industry Association has been working to create what Brian Kelly says is one of the most competitive bills in the country.

“We feel we’ll get the type of work that is necessary to rebuild Michigan’s lagging restaurant and hotel industry especially, but also lumber yards, florists, landscapers, security, just tons and tons and tons of businesses that benefit from the jobs of the film industry,” Kelly said.

The proposed bill says filmmakers who choose to film in Michigan would get a base tax credit of 25% for in-state spending and an additional five-percent awarded for including a ‘filmed in Michigan’ logo.

Kelly said the bill was created with taxpayers in mind.

“We have crafted this bill to be very conscious of taxpayer funding,” he said. “We’re taxpayers ourselves and we wanted our tax dollars to be spent just as wisely as we would want others to think that as well.”

The bill would also give filmmakers a 30-percent tax credit for hiring Michigan residents and 20-percent for non-Michigan residents. Local filmmaker Rich Brauer has been in the film industry for over forty year. He says he’s seen a lot of stuff come and go, including the incentive.

The most recent film incentive from 2008 was discontinued in 2015 by then-Governor Rick Snyder. Brauer believes this incentive is better.

“The new incentive, as I understand it, it’s a tax incentive it’s actually a credit towards your tax situation so that actually legitimizes it a bit, the previous one was just cash rebate… I kind of think this is a better way to go,” Brauer said.

Brauer believes this incentive will attract legitimate filmmakers and give young filmmakers a chance to stay in Michigan.

“There’s going to be an opportunity for all these graduates of schools and universities to be part of a real industry in Michigan, without having to travel to all the other 30 states that are out there that offer an incentive,” Brauer said.

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