Michigan filmmakers get scoop on landmark incentives at Town Hall Meet

Five hundred-plus Michigan excited filmmakers packed Grace & Wild’s Stage A in Bloomfield Hills to hear leaders explain details of Michigan’s tax incentives that are rocketing the state’s film revenues from $0 to $100 million.

Famous Detroit-based Mitch Albom, incentives activist, author of nine bestsellers, and screenplay writer, led the April 28 Town Hall Meeting.

Here are the basic essentials of Michigan’s landmark incentives as presented by legislators, union officials and the Michigan Film Office:

* PRE-APPROVAL. Once a film is ready to go, a script and breakdown is sent to the Michigan Film Office for pre-approval. Once approved, producers send an application for the incentive, found on the MFO website, a budget, certificate of insurance and a $100 fee to the Film Office.

* Producers have a 90-day window in which to begin the film, with one 90-day extension after approval.

* MINIMUM ELIGIBILITY. A project, which may be one of virtually every visual media genre (see state website SITE FOR LIST), must have a minimum $50,000 Michigan-spend budget to be eligible for the rebate.

* REBATES. The rebate is 40% across-the-board for all Michigan-spend, above and below-the-line.

An extra 2% rebate if the film is shot in one or more of Michigan’s 103 “core communities,” which have been designated as “distressed.”

* EXCEPTIONS. Out-of-state above-the-line salary expenses have $2-million dollar cap and are eligible for a 30% rebate.

* TAX INCENTIVES. Film infrastructure investments are eligible for a 25% tax credit that is transferable, and can be claimed after the physical structure has been built.

* LOCAL HIRING. A 50% tax incentive when hiring a Michigan resident, who is considered to be “in-training” and has from one to four credits on major productions.

* OTHER. Producers may have free use of Michigan state property when requests are approved by the director of such departments as parks, management & budget, natural resources, corrections, etc.