2010/11.06 You ought to be in movies

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

In 2008, there were 35 film projects completed in Michigan. Last year the number increased to 52 projects.

The year 2010 is expected to bring an even greater number, and of course that will be true. I’ve completed 96 projects myself, from the ever-popular “Diaper Doody” to the puzzlingly strong “Death by Snuggie.” I think its odd that something as interesting as “Take a Moment for Poetry” stalled out at 58 views, just ahead of “The Observer Hand Bell Chorus.”

But it’s not my YouTube collection that the Michigan Film Office is eyeing. They want the big time stuff with minimum budgets of $50,000. Those 87 projects from the two previous years resulted in combined production expenses of $358 million.

The state is offering what’s described as “the most aggressive film incentive program in the nation” to lure film-makers to Michigan. Spend money, hire people, get tax credits.

There’s even an additional two percent credit for all goods, services and labor purchased in-state, providing the transactions were made in one of 135 “core communities,” of which Morenci is not included. I’m expecting that to soon change now that Morenci native Michelle Begnoche is employed by the Michigan Film Office (MFO).

City Hall recently received a document from the MFO titled “Guide to Filming in Your Community,” with hints about becoming a “film friendly” place.

The guide mentions that a few communities have created websites to highlight their attributes, such as location photos, proximity to an airport, hotel accommodations, retail and supply resources, and recreation and entertainment options.

Well, it might be a tough, uphill battle once we let the Coen Brothers know that it’s about 90 minutes to the airport and that Johnson’s Hardware closes at 6 p.m.

As far as locations are concerned, we could provide a link to my YouTube page because I’ve covered most of the hot spots, from the roof of the Observer to the old train trestle pilings to the mausoleums at the cemetery. I’ve been under the Main Street bridge and I’ve even been under the bleachers with Seymour Butts. Any production company should easily see the cornucopia of locations that will make their next film truly interesting.

The MFO says we need a PFC—a primary film contact who is empowered to make a quick decision to close a street or perhaps to order a mass evacuation or maybe to allow a little shooting in the elementary school hallway. Whatever Clint Eastwood wants.

The MFO suggests that it’s good to offer office and warehouse space for storage and casting calls. The NWD building, of course. It’s ready and waiting.

The MFO website offers prospective movie-makers a quick look at Michigan Culture: “Much of Michigan is rich with pastoral charm and the salt-of-the-earth people you’d expect to find in such surroundings. Small-town simplicity. Rural camaraderie. Intense pride.”

I hope they don’t see through that glowing description and conclude that Michigan is nothing but cornfields and boring small-town rednecks who want nothing to do with you city-slicker Hollywood types.

I knew that Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” was made in the Detroit suburbs, but I didn’t know “Up in the Air” was filmed at Metro Airport. I better watch it again.

The MFO website says that “Youth in Revolt” was filmed all over the state, from Frankfort and Lake Leelanau to Ann Arbor. That’s going back on the rental list. It just gives it a new layer of interest to know that I might recognize Frankfort.

Some day, we hope, Morenci will be listed among the filming locations of a made-in-Michigan release, but we still have a lot to learn.

The guidebook’s glossary of terms explains important people (art director, location manager, etc.) and acronyms such as FAM (a familiarization tour), but it also mentions the honeywagon.

This is defined as a trailer outfitted for a dressing room for actors. Without this important tidbit of information, Cameron Diaz would have been shocked when we directed her into the cab of a septic tank cleaner.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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