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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 01/21/09
Film office seeking rural
locations for productions
by CHRIS GRAYImagine watching a movie, and during one scene the main characters approach a picturesque barn or field. Now imagine how great that could be if it was your barn or your field they were walking on.
Observer Staff Writer
This could become a reality for residents should they help with the Michigan Film Office's search for rural locations to be used in feature films.
Since the passing of lucrative tax incentives that allow filmmakers to receive up to 42 percent of their expenses when filming in Michigan, production crews have been scouting the state for places to shoot scenes.
With the sudden spark of interest generated by the incentive, the Michigan Film Office is seeking to aid production companies by having a collection of locales at the ready<more specifically, rural locations like those in the Romeo area.
"We're always looking for locations in our offices for everything, but agricultural locations is a weak spot," said Michael Grabemeyer, head of locations for the office. "Considering the number of farms in Michigan, it's difficult to photo-document the entire state."
He said in 2008 there were dozens of calls coming into their offices looking for rural locations, causing them to team up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture to get the word out. Around 50 locations have been logged with the office so far.
"You can drive around all you want and see some nice farms, but it's much easier for us if people call us up and submit their locations," he said.
When production companies come to Michigan, a nice boost is given to the economy when they bring in crews that need to be taken care of, or when they pay the necessary fees for filming. Of those fees are those paid to private property owners for the use of their location.
In other words, those people who submit their location to the office could end up with some dough in their pockets, or more. Incentives for people to offer their property could range from monetary compensation to having the production company re-paint their barn when they're done.
The film office does not handle any negotiations, but will offer guidelines the property owner can follow.
"We're unsure of what someone may charge, it's really up to the individual property owner and production companies," he said. "Our advice is to settle when you're happy and the production crew is happy, because everyone benefits from this."
Submissions to the film office are free. To submit a location, a simple application and pictures of the location must be sent in. The office prefers that pictures be burnt onto a CD, but if that poses a problem, applicants can call the office to make different arrangements.
"They want to see photos before they come out," Grabemeyer said. "Basically, if we don't have a photo of it, it doesn't exist."
The only warning issued to applicants is that they should be prepared for the possibility of a crew coming in and taking over the property. Arrangements could be a simple camera crew driving by your property to having a 10-ton grip truck parked on the property.
"A lot of times, people may not know the scope of a 300-person crew coming and shooting," he said. "It's like a carnival coming to town."
The Michigan Film Office is willing to explain any aspect of location filming to curious residents. Call the locations department at (517) 373-8680 or (517) 373-0239 for more information.