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.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.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.

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