Film and TV shows shot in the Wolverine State

‘BETTY ANN WATERS’
To film this story of a woman who campaigned for more than a decade to release her wrongfully convicted borther from jail, producer Andrew Sugermanfound Ann Arbor could sub for Massachusetts.
“The architecture was very New England Victorian, and (Michigan’s) rebate was a very important part of our financing structure,” says Sugerman. “The overall crew costs were also better, and they’re extremely film-friendly in Michigan.”
Sugerman found local Michigan residents not just accommodating but downright neighborly when they set up to shoot on a residential street for a little over a week.
“We had people coming up to us and saying that they were so glad that we were there and they even invited us inside their homes for coffee,” says Sugerman. “Film production is definitely a bright spot for them right now.”
Incentives: 40% refundable tax credit on Michigan expenditures; extra 2% for filming in “core” communities.
Locations: Jackson, Chelsea, Dexter, Ann Arbor
Facilities: Jackson State Prison, Jackson Court House
Michigan-based support: Mid America Cine Support, the Media Cooperative
Other Michigan vendors: Kind Services (craft services), Fletcher Camera
Location manager: Tom Jacob

‘CRASH COURSE’
Producers were looking for a place to film this automotive reality competition series that pits teams of drivers against each other for a $50,000 prize. They picked Belle Isle, an island in the Detroit River.
“A parking lot wouldn’t have had any flavor to it,” says exec producer Arthur Smith. “We needed a massive space, a different environment, and we got all of that (plus) the GM building in the background and the Detroit skyline.”
There were also other benefits for a show that routinely wrecks cars. “The incentives allowed us to put more money on the screen, and that was really important because this show is so visual,” says Smith.
Incentives: 40% refundable tax credit on Michigan expenditures; extra 2% for filming in “core” community.
Location: Detroit
Facility used: Belle Isle
Michigan-based support: 23rd Street Studios, Scenic Design Group, Roush Racing
Other Michigan vendors: Michigan Marine Salvage, Chow Catering
Location manager: Tom Moisides

‘GRAN TORINO’
When Clint Eastwood’s film about a lonely widower whose prejudices are challenged by his Hmong neighbors came to Michigan, location manager Patrick Mignano found just the right look in Highland Park. The area had a consistent style of architecture and an open attitude about making things work for the film’s crew.
“It had to have the feel of an old neighborhood — something from the 1920s — and they’re not building new houses (in this area) right now, so that made it great for us,” says Mignano.
Detroit also has its own Hmong population, which made it easier to cast background actors and gave the project greater authenticity.
“When you’re here as part of the film industry, you’re part of an upbeat story and you’re part of jobs and money coming into the state,” says Mignano. “Everyone is happy to have you here.” The film was one of the first to take advantage of the new tax incentives when they became effective in the spring of 2008
Incentives: 40% refundable tax credit on Michigan expenditures; extra 2% for filming in “core” communities,
Locations: Grosse Pointe, Highland Park, Royal Oak, Center Line, Howell
Facilities used: St. Ambrose Catholic Church, Pointe Hardware, Widgren’s Barbershop
Michigan-based support: Mid America Cine Support, S3 Entertainment Group
Other Michigan vendors: Worldwide Security and Investigations, Pound-Mooney Casting, English Gardens, Bordine Nursery, Telly’s Nursery, Somerset Inn
Location manager: Patrick Mignano

‘HUNG’
The opening credits of HBO’s new series walk the viewer through Detroit as former high school sports star turned gigolo Ray Drecker marches through the city. Like many in Michigan, Drecker has fallen on hard times, so he turns to a recession-proof profession to make extra money. Set against suburban Detroit, the show shoots at a variety of locations throughout the city and has been able to capitalize on Michigan’s incentive structure.
Incentives: 40% refundable tax credit on Michigan expenditures; extra 2% for filming in “core” community.
Locations: Detroit, Orchard Lake, Birmingham, West Bloomfield
Facilities used: Lafayette Coney Island, Townsend Hotel, Kodiak Creek Inn
Michigan-based support: Mid America Cine Support, AVC Services
Other Michigan vendors: Extreme Engineering, Cornwell Pool & Patio, Vassel’s Main Street Catering
Location manager: David Wolfson

‘WHIP IT’
When it came time to find a place that could double for Bodeen, Texas, location manager Russ Fega found everything he needed — from a warehouse where a roller rink could be constructed to a local restaurant that could become an eatery called the “Oink Joint” — in Michigan.
Helmed by Drew Barrymore and starring Ellen Page, “Whip It” follows a young girl looking for a way to fit in. Then she discovers roller derby.
“The amount of empty warehouses was a real plus,” says Fega of the locale where a rink could be built. “There have been some hard times in Michigan but that’s really an opportunity for us because we have options.”
Ypsilanti, Mich., became Bodeen when Fega discovered its uncomplicated streets and quaint storefronts. Plus, the locals “bent over backwards to help us,” says Fega. “When you shoot for seven days in a neighborhood in Los Angeles, it’s a lot more complicated.”
Incentives: 40% refundable tax credit on Michigan expenditures; extra 2% refundable tax credit for filming in “core” communities.
Locations: Birch Run, Detroit, Troy, Ypsilanti
Facilities used: Ferndale High School, Hamtramck High School, Detroit Yacht Club, Oink Joint, Eastern Market, Wolverine Restaurant
Michigan-based support: Mid America Cine Support, Night Hawk Security
Other Michigan vendors: Chow Catering
Location Manager: Russ Fega

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