OK. You’re a Hollywood director, and you’ve come to the Detroit area to film your movie and take advantage of Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation 42 percent tax credit. You’ve set up your home base in a local hotel and your star—let’s say, oh, Meryl Streep—she’s costing you $100,000 a day. You need to find a local crew right now to begin shooting. And …. action!
What happens next, if all goes well, is that a Michigan-grown crew is available to step in and—for far less than it would cost the director to fly in Hollywood folks—has the expertise and talent to, if you want to use a pure Michigan analogy, put that movie on an assembly line and crank out a quality finished product.
And that’s where a Detroit business incubator and one of Michigan’s few homegrown film studios and film schools enter the stage, with a soon-to-be-announced collaboration that will make sure local film crews are trained to step in. Wayne State University’s TechTown and Unity Studios of Allen Park, MI, and its affiliated Lifton Institute for Media Skills are expected to announce a formal agreement in the next couple of weeks, under which the institute will teach the would-be crews how to make movies and TechTown will teach them how to become entrepreneurs to sell their services.
“Everybody in the film industry has to be an entrepreneur because everybody is a freelancer,” says Randal Charlton, TechTown’s executive director. “They have to be. There are very few long-term gigs.”