By: Deborah Johnson Wood
The West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) on July 15 announced the creation of the West Michigan Film Office (WMFO), which will work to bring feature film productions and filmmakers to West Michigan locations. The demand for a regional film office comes in response to recent legislation allowing a 42 percent tax credit to filmmakers for business expenditures made in Michigan.
As of July 21, Rick Hert, WMTA executive director and head of the film office, had received some 15 scripts and the number grows daily. If the 15 productions (three of which could be filmed in Grand Rapids, although Hert wouldn’t divulge names or dates) come to West Michigan they could pump approximately $40 million into the local economy.
Hert works side-by-side with the Michigan Film Office (MFO), the office that reviews filmmakers’ applications for the tax credit. He says the MFO can’t keep up with the demand.
“We needed someone to advocate for West Michigan,” Hert says. “The filmmakers tell me what type of location they’re looking for, and we give them ideas on where filming could take place. We take them to places, connect them with people to secure the locations, help pave the way for these guys to come here.”
The film industry could create an untold number of jobs for set builders, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and others to work with crews that can range from three people to 250 or more.
“If they’ll be flying people in and out of here, they’ll call and say ‘give me a local travel agent’ because that service is then deductible and they get a return on their investment,” Hert says.
Source: Rick Hert, West Michigan Film Office
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Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].