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Posted: 2/25/2011 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 2 Likes
Category: Movies

Dear Senator Beida, I support the Michigan Film Tax Credit because it puts people to work... film and music people, Michigan Electricians and Carpenters, and others... immediately. Also it supports Michigan Hardware stores, Lumber Yards, Rental Cars, Catering Businesses, and other businesses that hire employees that pay taxes as they earn money. 

No other industry has brought work into our state this quickly. The tax credit only applies to money spent on hiring Michigan citizens and Michigan services and the Film Incentives bring jobs into our state...and maybe more importantly can help keep the creative and entrepreneurial skilled young people from moving away like they have over the last 50+ years.
I am a partner in the Harmonie Park Media Group in Downtown Detroit. We have 3 major film projects on the table with a group out of the UK, Dream On Productions. They are planning to spend their collective budgets of 50+ million dollars here in Michigan. One is a movie about Northern Soul and how Motown influenced the people of the UK, one another involves one of the biggest POP stars on the planet, and the other will feature the music of former Michigander and Hall of Famer Alice Cooper and others...who will all have to come to Detroit to record...which they all are excited to do.
After the Dream On Production team visited us and met the talented people that could help make their movies, they were blown away by how strong our infrastructure has become in a short time. They never expected to meet so many talented and accommodating people. Dream On Productions also wants to set up an office in Harmonie Park for the next 3 years, maybe more, and staff it with their employees to help work on these projects and to also bring more projects here.
All of this has come to a screeching halt because of the Governor's speech last week. We are devastated because the Film office has said they are currently operating under what the Governor has proposed even before their is a vote...not good.
We have just started to make some great strides working with Film Industry people and this could cripple us and potentially crush the future growth of our business.
We hope, Senator Levin, that you will seriously consider leaving these incentives in place and discussing modifications with the people here that have led the charge for the Incentive, Mitch Albom, Jeff Daniels, Mike Binder, Emery King and others. These are highly respected and bright leaders in our business and I trust between all of you that the right compromise can be reached.
I would like to know where you stand on this so please feel free to contact me at your earliest or call me on my
Harmonie Park is involved in some incredible music and new media initiatives.
Check out 
UDetroit ... Bringing the Best of Detroit & Michigan Together!
I believe the Film Incentives can do this is as good or better than any new industry coming to our State!
Look forward to hearing from you,
Kindest Regards,
Brian Pastoria
Partner - Harmonie Park Media Group
1427 Randolph
Detroit, MI 48226
Posted: 2/19/2011 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 1 Likes
Category: Movies

 As a devoted member of Michigan's film industry

You are cordially invited to attend



An organizational and informational event to most effectively communicate to Michigan's legislators, governor and voting public why the film incentive program (among other issues), should be preserved.

                          WHEN:         Thursday, February 24, 7:30pm

WHERE:       Maxsar Studios
38099 Schoolcraft Rd. (east of I-275, on south side of I-96 freeway)
                     Livonia, MI  48150

Featured Speakers:  
Mitch Albom, Free Press Columnist
Mike Binder, filmmaker and Michigan native
Andy Meisner, Oakland County Treasurer, and former State Rep.
Philippe Martinez, Maxsar Studios CEO
Emery King and Jim Burnstein, Chair and Vice-Chair, MFO Advisory Council
Ken Droz, Consultant and former MFO Communications Mgr.
Others to be announced.

Provided will be various evidence and informational points, legislators' names and contact info, and strategic methods on conveying the most effective message possible, for legislative officials and districts statewide.

Hosted by Mitch Albom, Kenneth Droz Consulting and Maxsar Digital Studios
Open to the press and general public. 

All Facebook postings are welcome and encouraged. 
It's time to "Go Egypt."

Questions or concerns:  Please direct to

We look forward to seeing you.

Kenneth Droz Consulting

Posted: 12/19/2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes
Category: Movies


VIDEO: Pontiac movie studio raises profile, looks to lift economy

Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2010



Click thumbnails to enlarge

By Joseph Szczesny
For the Daily Tribune

After months of keeping its head down, Pontiac’s Raleigh Studios elevated its profile by throwing a huge party, which managed to attract political figures, financiers, union representatives, local business people and a cross section from the area’s fledgling movie industry.

More than 900 people, among them big names such as financier A. Alfred Taubman and his son, Taubman Co. chief operating officer William Taubman, James P. Hoffa president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

Hoffa told The Oakland Press the studio project will not only give the local economy a lift but the economy of the entire state a boost.

“We’ve to improve Michigan’s image and this is the kind of project that projects a positive image of the state,” said Hoffa, who predicted more movie and television projects are coming to Michigan soon.

Linden Nelson, the head of Raleigh Studio who came up with the idea of developing a film studio on property on the south side of Pontiac once devoted to auto manufacturing, said the studio will open in early 2011. So far more than $80 million has been invested in the studio off South Boulevard, making it perhaps the largest non-automotive investments in the city’s history.

“This is the second most important piece of (film industry) infrastructure in the state,” Nelson said. “The most important piece is all the people you see around, committed to making films in Michigan,” he said.

The fact the hit ABC drama, “Detroit 1-8-7,” has already built up studio space around Detroit shows the sound stages are badly needed for the state’s start up film industry.

Nelson also said he believed the Film Industry Tax Credit will survive the transition from Governor Jennifer Granholm, who was supportive of the credit. to her successor Rick Snyder, who has questioned whether the state can afford the credit.

“The new governor is a very smart man,” said Nelson, adding the credit might be modified but in the end, Governor-elect Snyder will see the benefits. “This is actually very good for the state,” he said.

“I hope the politicians don’t screw this up,” said Chuck Tindall of Local 687 of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters in Warren, who noted the movie industry has brought badly needed jobs to the Detroit area.

“They’re always talking about diversifying the state’s economy and that’s what this does,” said Tindall as he watched the party unfold on the partially completed, 30,000 square foot sound stage at the heart of project. “It’s something we’ve been looking for in Michigan,” Tindall said.

“These are about the only jobs I’ve heard about in quite a while,” said Vince MacDonald another member of Local 687.

Steven Lemberg, chief financial officer for Michigan Motion Picture Studios, which is responsible for the Raleigh venture in Pontiac, said the firm started developing a revenue stream in 2009 by offering by movie companies a variety of production assistance and equipment rental. “This will elevate our business to an entirely different level,” he said.

Work on the big sound stages began in September. “Up until then it was bare ground,” said Lemberg, who noted completion required moving 371 pre-cast concrete slabs to Pontiac from Grand Rapids. Each slab weighed 65,000 pounds.

When it’s completed early next year, the Raleigh complex will include nine separate sound stages of varying size. The main building with extra high ceilings will have three, 30,000-square foot stages, while the second building will include two 20,000-square foot stages and two additional 12,000-square sound stages.

Two more smaller stages also will be built into the “annex” or the office building that once housed the operations of company’s supplying General Motors .

Lemberg said when it is finished the annex also will house the company’s headquarters – its now in Birmingham – and space leased to long-term tenants, ranging from production companies to educational institutions and short-term tenants, which might be working on one film project.

David Haddad Inc. of Haddad Inc. which provides production support services, said Raleigh Studios will help attract more film-production investment to Michigan. “I just put in $1 million and hired three Michigan people because I believe in it,” said Haddad, who firm is based in Pittsburgh but has office in New York and New Jersey.'

“Forty states have film incentives or credits,” Haddad said. “Louisiana has the best incentive program but Michigan’s second and I believe it could be first within four years,” said Haddad, adding he met several people in industry who have moved back to the state because they wanted to have a chance to work on films.

Haddad also said he enjoys working in Michigan. “People in Michigan have a great work ethic,” he said.

Posted: 11/28/2010 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes
Category: Movies


POSTED: NOV. 28, 2010

Metro Detroit's diverse landscape is a hit with Hollywood filmmakers


You already know the stars of the movies and TV shows that have filmed in southeast Michigan recently. There's Clint Eastwood, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Hilary Swank, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Al Pacino, Thomas Jane, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman and ... we could keep going, but you get the idea.


But what about the places that have emerged as all-star locations? The ones that cinematographers, directors and producers are relying on to make their projects look like a million dollars, whether their budgets are big or small?

As any local location scout will tell you, the region has plenty of great backdrops for scenes in comedies, dramas, spy thrillers -- whatever the screenplay requires.

We've rounded up some of the locations in Detroit, nearby suburbs and a few neighboring areas that have attracted filmmakers drawn here by the state's filmmaking incentives.

And we're inviting you to tell us about the cool filming locations that we didn't include.

These are places that offer convenience, versatility, dazzling looks and, usually, plenty of enthusiasm for being part of the efforts to build a film industry here.


Masonic Temple

If you're looking for something with grandeur and architectural variety, this must be the place. And "This Must Be the Place" with Sean Penn is among the productions that have filmed at this vast site. "Vamps," "Street Kings 2: Motor City," "Highland Park," "The Job," "Hostel: Part III" and "Detroit 1-8-7" also have filmed at the historic location, which has 1,037 rooms and can provide a range of looks, from Corinthian to Egyptian to English Tudor.

Things were so busy at one point earlier this year that "Vamps" was closing up shop, "Hostel: Part III" was filming and "This Must Be the Place" was preparing to shoot, according to the site's operations manager, Steven Genther, who thinks filmmaking is important to the Masonic's future.

With its ample space for parking, catering and set building, the Masonic can pretty much serve as a temporary movie studio.

"You can turn it into an office, you can turn it into an apartment, you can turn it into a chapel," says location manager Dave Krieger.

Ann Arbor area

The land of the Maize and Blue has played host to Rob Reiner's "Flipped," David Schwimmer's "Trust," "The Double" with Richard Gere, "Cedar Rapids" with Ed Helms and much more.

Filmmakers like the region for its convenience and versatility. "Ten or 15 minutes from the center of town, you can be at a cornfield," says Kay Seaser of the Ann Arbor area film office.

And then there's the vibrancy of Ann Arbor life -- the fun, quirky vibe, the restaurants, the cultural attractions. "The actors and directors like the atmosphere," says Lee Doyle, director of the University of Michigan film office.

U-M locations such as the law school provide an iconic Ivy League feeling, while the spacious North Campus Research Complex has played an airport for "Trust" and, according to Doyle, FBI and CIA offices for "The Double."

Detroit Metropolitan Airport

The airport has costarred with George Clooney in "Up in the Air," so to speak. The McNamara Terminal even landed a major role in the poster for the film.

Besides the Oscar-nominated film, several other projects have worked at the airport, including "Machine Gun Preacher" with Gerard Butler and "This Must Be the Place."

The stylish McNamara Terminal is an obvious draw, but Detroit Metro can offer three terminals for interiors -- including the closed Berry Terminal, which has the controlled space that filmmakers love -- and four terminal exteriors, according to Detroit Metro public affairs manager Scott Wintner.

With that array, you could shoot scenes at several settings and never know you're at the same airport.

Old Wayne County Building

When someone needs a structure to play a court, police station, city hall or other ornate public building, this has long been a leading contender. The five-story building on Randolph Street conveys an immediate air of elegance and history.

"It's such a majestic building, it really is," says Mike Mosallam, director of film initiatives for Wayne County.

For "Conviction," which stars Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, the site doubled as a courthouse in Massachusetts. During filming of HBO's "You Don't Know Jack," extras playing protesters marched outside to re-create the controversy stirred by Jack Kevorkian.

Other movies that have worked there include "Kill the Irishman," "Street Kings 2: Motor City" and "Highland Park."

Downtown Detroit's urban landscape

Portions of the city have played everything from New York (for the third "Harold and Kumar" movie) to Paris (for "The Double" with Gere). "Whatever somebody asks for, we have it," says Sommer Woods, Detroit's film, culture and special events liaison.

But Griswold Street stands out as the Meryl Streep of locations -- it can handle almost any role. Portions of Griswold have been used by "Transformers 3," "Real Steel" and "Red Dawn." Certain areas are described as being able to duplicate the look of cities like New York and Boston.

The street is also home to the art deco splendor of the Guardian Building, which was used by "Game of Death," which stars Wesley Snipes, "Street Kings 2: Motor City" and the "Harold and Kumar" movie, Mosallam says. And this summer, the Christmas-themed "Harold and Kumar" re-created a winter scene at the intersection of Congress and Griswold.

"It just feels like everything I work on loves that (street)," says location manager David Rumble.

Coney central

Detroit's beloved rivals, American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island, have costarred in episodes of "Food Feuds" on Food Network and "Food Wars" on the Travel Channel. When they're not battling on food-themed shows, they're appearing elsewhere.

Lafayette Coney Island's most memorable role is probably as the scene of a food fight in "Whip It," the roller derby comedy with Drew Barrymore.

American Coney Island's roomy corner locale has drawn several movie and TV projects. Recently, ABC's "Detroit 1-8-7" did a scene there that gave the nation a lesson in dining etiquette when James McDaniel's detective character lectured his partner about the inappropriateness of putting lots of ketchup on a coney dog.

"I think that's the most famous line in their whole show," says Grace Keros, owner of American Coney Island.

Belle Isle

For filmmakers, Detroit's island park oasis is a playground of possibilities -- there's an aquarium, a conservatory, a beach, wooded areas and the Detroit Yacht Club. And that's just a start. "It's like a treasure trove of locations," says Rumble.

"Real Steel," the robot boxing movie starring Hugh Jackman, filmed there. So did "Kill the Irishman," "Restitution," "Street Kings 2: Motor City," the ABC reality competition "Crash Course," "Detroit 1-8-7," the Hallmark Channel's "Smooch" and others.

And it has a great view of the rest of the city. "Belle Isle has the best skyline of Detroit without going to Windsor," says location manager Tom Jacob.

Meadow Brook Hall

The stately Tudor-revival style mansion has 110 rooms, ample gardens and roles in several movies, including the ABC pilot "The Prince of Motor City," "Youth in Revolt," "Highland Park" and "Transformers 3."

"It's been a residence, it's been a men's club, it's been a school," says Shannon O'Berski, marketing and communications manager.

No wonder it's one of the settings that Rumble compares to a gold mine for location experts.

Suburban stars

Although Detroit is a frequent location for movie and TV shoots, surrounding cities are also a big attraction.

For instance, Royal Oak provided settings for Lifetime's "Prayers for Bobby" with Sigourney Weaver and played San Francisco in a parade scene. Rochester was host to the cast and crew of "The Reasonable Bunch," a comedy about a chaotic family wedding that filmed there this year and stars Demi Moore, Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn and Kate Bosworth. And "Scream 4" brought its famous franchise to Northville and Plymouth.

Detroit Medical Center

Exteriors of DMC buildings have been filmed for several projects. But most of the movie-making action happens at the former Hutzel Women's Hospital -- which is now referred to as the Kresge campus facility and is home to the Kresge Eye Institute and other offices.

At the site, casts and crews can work without disruption in closed and empty portions of three floors that contain the operating facilities and patient rooms of a typical hospital. "Game of Death," "Vanishing on 7th Street," Lifetime's "Secrets in the Walls," "The Double, "Scream 4," "Vamps" and "Detroit 1-8-7" have filmed there.

The DMC's David Manardo, whose office coordinates film-related activities, says staffers have put a lot of effort into reaching out to filmmakers. The DMC also has a link on its Web site for filming information.

The work has paid off. "I think the DMC has been very successful in reaching out to these films and getting the DMC's image into these movies and TV shows in a very positive way," says Manardo.

Restaurants and bars

Numerous eateries and bars have opened their doors to cinematic projects. Some have had Hollywood lightning strike more than once. The Detroit jazz club and restaurant Cliff Bell's has been filmed by "Kill the Irishman," "Vamps" and "Street Kings 2: Motor City." Co-owner Paul Howard isn't sure how Cliff Bell's got on the filming circuit, but he knows some location scouts and says the site has a timelessness that makes it versatile.

He also co-owns the Bronx Bar in Detroit, where "Little Murder," "S.W.A.T. Fire Fight" and "Detroit 1-8-7" have worked. For one shoot, the crew removed everything from the light fixtures to the jukebox, "and they put it back together perfectly."

Howard says he's open to hosting more projects at his venues. "We got scouted today for, oh, I guess I'm not supposed to say," he says genially.

Prisons and jails

The closed Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in the Jackson area was a key setting for "Stone," a drama starring Robert De Niro and Edward Norton.

The prison, which was home to "Stone" for several weeks and also to "Conviction," has an old-style prison look.

"It's what you would think when you walk into a 1940s, 1950s style prison," says John Cordell, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

That's not the only place of detention that's been in the filming loop. Wayne County jails have been used by "Machine Gun Preacher" and "The Double."

Russell Industrial Center

"Hostel: Part III" and "Detroit 1-8-7" have filmed here, and "Vanishing on 7th Street" built an outdoor cityscape at the site. "I make the joke that we should change our name to Russell Industrial Center Studio," says Eric Novack, the center's operations manager.

With seven interconnected buildings on 20 acres -- and a community of artists and small businesses -- this is the sort of space that can have one or two projects visiting a month, whether it's a movie, a video, a commercial or a photo shoot.

"It's a classic Albert Kahn design," says Novack. Hollywood visitors appreciate the big campus and the small architectural details. And, luckily, says Novak, the tenants enjoy the filmmaking as well.

Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co.

When "Kill the Irishman," a drama with Val Kilmer that takes place in 1970s Cleveland, was looking for industrial dock areas with a retro look, the movie found them at this location in Ecorse.

"The Double" also shot some action scenes here involving a car chase, says treasurer Patrick Sutka, who describes the filming at the Nicholson Terminal, a marine cargo handling company, as a business transaction and advises that location work requires proper planning and reviewing of contracts.

And there can be fun opportunities for the people who work there, like when "Kill the Irishman" used some stevedores as extras. Sutka says everyone is looking forward to seeing the film, since employees were in front of the cameras and there's "a sense of company pride that goes along with that."

Local homes

Plenty of houses in metro Detroit have been featured in cinematic projects. Two movies have filmed at the Livonia home of Kathy Urbanowicz and her husband, John. The first one, "Intent" with Eric Roberts, spent two days there in 2008 after she told her son, who's a gaffer, to let her know if a movie needed a house for scenes. The second film, "The Domino Effect," was there for three days in 2009 after finding her through the Michigan Film Office's Web site, where she had registered her home as a potential location.

And recently she got a phone call about lending her home to a TV commercial.

Urbanowicz says homeowners need to be realistic about what filmmaking involves. "You have to figure on having 40 or 50 people in your house all day," she says. For "Intent," her basement was taken over by craft services, which does catering -- "Eric Roberts ate in my basement," she says. "The Domino Effect" used the same space for wardrobe and makeup and turned her garage into a bakery as part of the set.

Unless it's a big-budget movie that needs a house for an extended time, "you're not going to make a lot of money doing this," she says. But she says it can be very exciting and a lot of fun -- if you're prepared for the organized chaos and long hours.

"You are totally displaced in your house," says Urbanowicz, who reserved one corner of her dining room to sit in during filming of "The Domino Effect."