A Detroit-area native, filmmaker Larry August wanted to help his economically challenged hometown, a task that became considerably easier last year after Michigan passed tax incentives to attract the film industry.
To prepare locals for entry-level movie jobs, August helped launch the Film Industry Training program (FIT) at nearby Oakland Community College — training that requires 40 hours of classwork over two weeks, with instruction held at night to accommodate those transitioning from traditional day jobs.
For now, the program focuses on just four areas: grip and electric, art department, industry overview and production accounting. All but accounting culminate in an additional eight-hour, weekend production shoot.
The hope is that as Michigan grows as a filmmaking destination, these students will help form its human infrastructure. Naturally, August can’t guarantee his students jobs, just short internships, but he’s already pleased with some unanticipated consequences.
“The students have formed very strong bonds,” he says. “They’ve created their own network, and they share leads.”