Oakland County Launches Effort to Assist Filmmakers, Communities

Oakland County unveiled a new initiative to assist communities become “film ready” when production companies come to shoot in their towns. A new website, OaklandCountyFilm.com, and a toll-free phone number, 877-651-FILM, will help municipalities and the film production community work together to bring film production to Oakland County.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson kicked off a forum, “Oakland County on Film” on Oct. 28 at the Somerset Inn in Troy. An audience of more than 100 community officials, film producers and local businesses heard from industry experts on how Michigan’s aggressive film incentive package has created a sudden surge in film and video production in the state.

“It’s an opportunity to promote the lifestyles of your community that you’re proud of and I’m proud of,” said Patterson. “It might even result in further economic development and tourism. There’s a lot to be gained by being receptive to the needs of the film industry.”

Anthony Wenson, chief operating officer of the Michigan Film Office, described the film incentive legislation that was passed in April and said his office has been inundated by film scripts seeking the incentive.

Harvey Grace, chairman of Grace & Wild Studios in Farmington Hills, led the audience through a history of film and video production in Michigan, and how the industry’s rich heritage has positioned it to respond to the sudden upturn in production.

Two location scouts, Tom Jacob and David Rumble, discussed productions they had just wrapped, including “Demoted” and “Youth in Revolt.” They talked about what location managers require from communities and described the positive experiences they’ve had working in the Metro Detroit area.

Community representatives Pam Antil of Novi and Ed Anzek of Rochester/Rochester Hills detailed how their communities handle permits, fees and special requests. Both communities created film sites on the Internet.

Film Industry veteran Mark Adler talked about the “Film Friendly Michigan” initiative to provide a positive working experience for all, and promoted the Michigan Film & Video Producers Group for assistance to local production personnel.

Somerset Inn General Manager Duane Swanson and Budget Rental of Birmingham Manager Ken Klussman told the audience they had already seen an unexpected jump in bookings directly related to film production, most notably Clint Eastwood’s production, “Gran Torino.” Thanks to booking rental cars, trucks, passenger vans and even catering trucks for the four months of that production, Klussman’s company experienced a 400% increase in sales over the same period a year previous.

Susan Dorris, Marketing Coordinator with Oakland County Film, unveiled the county’s new film website, OaklandCountyFilm.com. The site is designed to help communities find information about working with film production and to provide resources for film production companies, including connections to all 61 Oakland County communities, location photographs, and visitor resources for out of town production personnel. The site also provides links to the communities and organizations profiled at the film forum.

“Oakland County and L. Brooks Patterson have once again come through for our communities by offering the Oakland County on Film Workshop presented at Troy’s Somerset Inn last week,” said Cindy Stewart, City of Troy’s Community Affairs Director. “Michigan’s aggressive film incentive program will positively impact our communities; all we have to do is promote our hidden gems and make it easier for the film industry to work in our communities.”

For more information about Oakland County Film, contact Susan Dorris at 248-858-0734 or 877-651-FILM or email dorriss@oakgov.com.