There’s a changing of the guard at the Michigan Film Office.
Longtime director Janet Lockwood is stepping down. On Thursday, she’ll be replaced by Carrie Jones, who was appointed deputy director of the office earlier this year by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Jones, a former Granholm fund-raiser, has no film or TV experience.
Lockwood has been the state’s top film officer for 19 years. Under her leadership Michigan established the nation’s most generous incentive program, offering film tax credits as high as 42% for qualified expenditures.
The incentives have helped attract several high-profile productions to the state, including “Gran Torino,” “Up in the Air,” “Hung” and “Real Steel.”
At the heart of Michigan’s incentives program is a 40% refundable and transferable tax credit on money spent on shoots in the state. Another 2% is available for productions situated in certain “core communities,” including Detroit. The minimum budget to qualify starts at $50,000.
Wages paid to Michigan crew are among spends eligible for full credit of the incentives. A 30% incentive is available for wages paid to workers brought from out of state. Salaries for above-the-line participants also qualify, although capped at $2 million per individual.
But while the filming activity has brought considerable coin to an economically depressed region, it has not been without controversy. Some say the program is not bringing enough jobs to the region, while some in Hollywood have criticized the application process as too complex.
Lockwood said her departure is a retirement decision that she’s been discussing publicly since January. “I’ve been in state government for 34 years,” she told Daily Variety on Thursday just as she was about to leave for her retirement party. “I’ve had other offers but I haven’t taken any of them yet.”
Jones said she can’t speak to the media until July 1.