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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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