These are troubled times for Motown and the state of Michigan.
Unemployment is at a record high and the entire auto industry — Detroit’s largest job supplier — is lining up for a government bailout.
But Clint Eastwood‘s “Gran Torino,” about a retired autoworker and his titular car, which isn’t even in production anymore, has already provided another kind of bailout, one that is directly boosting locals in need of employment. Ironically, given the significance the Detroit setting plays in the film, the original story didn’t even include Michigan in it. But a hefty state incentive bill passed last spring provided all the lure Eastwood and the production needed to make the switch.
Up to 40% of a pic’s budget is rebated by the state, and an additional 2% can be added if the film shoots in one of 103 designated communities.
The incentive is pricey, but the state’s local vendors, hotels and restaurants and residents have already been reaping the windfall with the jobs and business created from the pic’s filming in the state. In the past year alone more than 2,000 local production jobs were created by various productions lured to the state.Detroit News film critic Tom Long even noted back in October that the city was no longer being scouted as a “blight-ridden wasteland.”
“We see it as a local movie, and not because of the film’s subject matter but more of the way it makes Detroit look,” says Jeff Spilman, managing partner of S3EG, a Detroit-based company that provides services and gear for visiting productions and was front and center when Warners and Eastwood came to town to make their movie.
With films like Drew Barrymore‘s “Whip It!” and the sequel to “Transformers” still to come, Detroit hopes Eastwood and his iconic car have started a relationship that won’t be driving off anytime soon.