LANSING -- Michigan is losing out big time when it comes to strutting its stuff on the silver screen. And state lawmakers say it's time movies, supposedly set in Michigan, actually are shot here rather than in Ohio, Canada, England and elsewhere.
In recent years, some filmmakers have been attracted to Detroit's rundown skyline, which saves them the expense of building costly sets to depict gothic scenes of urban devastation. But for the most part, film producers have shied away for one simple reason: They can get a better deal elsewhere.
So Michigan is taking steps to enter the high-stakes competition with other states and nations to lure Tinseltown's dollars and jobs.
On Wednesday, the House Taxation Committee unanimously approved a package of bills to offer tax incentives to filmmakers who use genuine Michigan backdrops.
The vote came after a parade of movie industry experts testified that the legislation would light up the state's ailing economy.
Janet Lockwood, who heads Michigan's Film Commission, predicted passage would quadruple the state's share of the movie business in the first year -- from $5 million to $20 million. While still only a fraction of the $400 billion worldwide film industry, it's a start, she said.
Lockwood told lawmakers of her frustration over a recent call from a person involved in the making of a movie in Vancouver, British Columbia, that viewers would be led to believe was shot in Detroit. The caller wanted Lockwood's help in procuring 40 to 50 Michigan license plates that could be affixed to cars in Canada.