Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Filmmaking incentives losing glamour in cash-strapped states

In a Troy office building where advertising executives once courted Motor City automakers, film production workers discuss which stretch of downtown Detroit would offer the best sense of urban decay. Down the hall, in a warehouse that has been converted to a makeshift studio, dozens of prop builders are fashioning blocks of foam and stacks of plywood to build a set for a rocky mine shaft.

For the next 11 weeks, the cast and crew of "Red Dawn," a remake of the 1980s action thriller that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is scheduled to release next year, will be working in Michigan. The film, starring Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, is one of dozens of Hollywood productions drawn in part by the state's generous film tax-credit program, which could shave as much as $14 million off the movie's estimated $54-million budget.

Nearly 95 miles to the west in the state capital of Lansing, lawmakers are wrestling with how to bridge a $2.7-billion budget gap -- and whether a state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation can afford to subsidize the movie business. The budget woes have hit cities across the state and have forced the layoffs of thousands of Michigan police officers and firefighters in recent years.

To read the full article, click here.