Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lights! Cameras! Inaction!

The Detroit News reported this morning that the state’s fledgling film industry is fading to black, thanks to the dickhead sitting in the governor’s chair.

First Rick Snyder announces – after the election, it should be pointed out – that he wants to limit tax incentives offered to the film and television industry, then businesses close and people get laid off:

  • Maxsar Digital Studios in Livonia has laid off all 50 employees and idled all production.

  • 10 West Studios in west Michigan has lost two film deals and one of its founders has moved to Los Angeles.

  • A Madison Heights studio operated by S3 Entertainment Group was evicted for nonpayment of rent.

Snyder is working this week to persuade state lawmakers to sign off on his proposal to cap the incentive program at $25 million. (It was created in April 2008 with no funding limit and currently covers up to 42 percent of expenses.) But apparently industry types aren’t waiting around to see if the Stepford Wives in the State Senate will rubber stamp yet another ill-advised, penny-wise and pound-foolish Snyder idea.

The Michigan Film Office, created back in 1979 to attract production companies to the state, reported that in 2010, $293 million was spent by productions shooting in Michigan. Film incentives equaling $115 million were given back to producers. This means the state made $178 million.

Ernst and Young reported that for every $1 spent on film incentives, an additional $6 in economic activity was created.

One can read the success stories at the Michigan Film Office website to see that the program is a good idea. Or you can listen to celebrities like Mitch Albom, Mike Binder and Jeff Daniels and the hundreds of regular folks who’ve participated in well-attended rallies protesting the plan.

Too bad Rick Snyder doesn’t listen to anyone or anything except the Mackinac Center, the right-wing think tank that pulls his strings.

Most people understand that government can’t do everything everybody wants, no matter how worthy the undertaking. But why provide hundreds of millions in tax breaks for corporations while gutting a popular program that makes money and showcases the state? Could it be that Snyder’s real goal isn’t to rein in government spending at all, but rather to redirect it into the pockets of his cronies in gated communities?

Somebody ought to make a movie about that.

Sources: Detroit News,, Michigan Film Office

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