MPA News News

MFO Strategic Plan / Operating Plan

2013 MFO Branding


The Michigan Film Office revealed it's operating plan at MPA's October meeting. MFO Director Margaret O'Riley discussed the plan she called their "Operating Plan" and provided copies for those attending. We are providing a link to it for your review. It should also be available on the MFO website. While MFOAC's minutes indicate that this "OPERATING PLAN" was "WELL RECEIVED" at MPA's October meeting That was not the case. We were hoping for a STRATEGIC PLAN outlining how the film office would help the film industry grow. 

MFO "Operating Plan"

June Update MFO

Update from the Michigan Film Office

Friends – I wanted to reach out today and give you an update on Michigan’s film incentive budget for Fiscal Year 2014.

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Rick Snyder signed the FY 2014 budget bill ahead of schedule.  The bill maintained funding levels for the Michigan Film and Digital Media Incentive with $50 million allocated to the program.  This funding becomes available October 1, 2013.

With our budget locked in place for the next fiscal year, we are moving forward with our efforts to promote Michigan and attract film and digital media projects here to our state.  As part of that effort, our office will be attending the AFCI Locations Trade Show June 27-29 in Los Angeles.  Michigan will again have a booth at the event, and be sure to look for our ad in the Beyond Cinema program guide.  I will also be participating in a panel titled “ Best of the Best – What’s in Store for 2013” with my colleagues from Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and Massachusetts on Thursday, June 27 at 9:00 a.m.  The event is part of the summer incentive panels held by the Entertainment Office at Ease and will take place at the Landmark Theatre in West LA.   

Joining me in Los Angeles will be Selam Ghirmai who manages all of the incentive applications coming into the Film Office.  We will be arriving in Los Angeles in advance of the trade show to meet with studios, producers and other industry leaders to give them an update on what is happening here in Michigan and make the case for Michigan as a premier filmmaking and digital media production destination.

If you are planning to attend the Locations Trade Show please be sure to stop by our booth and say hello.

Speaking of hellos, I also wanted to take this opportunity to introduce Faith Goins – the newest member of the Film Office.  We are excited to have Faith on board as our new executive assistant and I know many of you will have an opportunity to work with her moving forward.  Faith can be reached at 517-335-7197 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any requests or would simply like to drop a line to say hello.

Many of you also know Carol Apczynski who is our Financial Compliance Specialist.  Carol has been working with us for almost a year, but we are pleased that she is now officially part of the Film Office.  Faith and Carol have helped us to round out our team and get us back to full strength on a staffing level.

Clearly, there are lots of good things happening in the Film Office right now and we are excited for what this summer will bring.  Please do not hesitate to call or email our office if you have any questions or concerns.  We can be reached at 517-373-3456 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Margaret O’Riley
Director, Michigan Film Office

MFO 2013 1st and 2nd Quarter reports issued

2013 MFO BrandingOn Friday May 3 2013 The Michigan Film Office released its 1st and 2nd quarter reports such as they are.  The  current legislation requires certain information to be included but there seems to be wide latitude in what details must be included. For example, there is too much background and boiler plate information in relationship to what could be included such as the names of projects that applied, those that were approved and those that were denied. Also, it would be useful to know if any new infrastructure or training were fostered by the program or indeed if there are any threats to the program. We are most pleased to see these documents on the public record but always hope for greater detail.

pdfMFO First Quarter 2013 Report.pdf05/05/2013, 20:49

pdfMFO Second Quarter 2013 Report.pdf05/05/2013, 20:52

Little support from MEDC

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Michigan Film Industry Gets MEDC Short End (source Film Freindly Michigan)

Despite the 2011-2012 state commitment of $58 million to build the Michigan motion media industry (film, high tech digital gaming, etc.) we are still waiting for the Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC)  to announce a  business-oriented strategy similar to other state industries:

One with the goal of growing and maintaining a separate and stable revenue stream expected to result from the millions of dollars of incentives /grants.

 Recent FFM inquiries about how the MEDC plans to assist the motion media industry to grow here have determined there is no plan beyond doing what we did before: i.e., spend money to bring new outside projects here with a few Michigan filmmakers benefitting along the way.

This sounds like the old plan with even less support for growing MI’s indigenous industry – the new incentives program does NOT include building or expanding infrastructure, and so far, there are no advanced skill training programs for MI workers. Many Michigan communities have no idea there is a new incentives program, or how to benefit from it. And the incentives decrease annually through 2015, ending entirely in 2017.

Didn’t we learn from the first iteration in 2008-2010? Without an aggressive economic development plan that engages local communities and guides local industry growth, there will be no different outcome than the last time.  The state agency responsible for building Michigan’s economy is the MEDC – which is, so far, MIA.

MEDC Top Ten Check List

Here are suggestions for MEDC actions in a very basic economic development plan:

1) First priority – PROMOTE  the motion media industry like any other: Get film and commercial production on the MEDC web-site and social media.  So far, the MEDC site doesn’t even include a picture of a camera.

2) Recruit from national companies to open offices here. We need agents, distributors, and managers as well as production and post-prod companies.  And by the way, on the next MEDC junket to Dubai, China, India, and S. Korea, please invite investment in studios here. Those countries have thriving film industries that could shoot here in our currently empty studios.

3) Provide the economic impact tracking systems applied to the Pure Michigan tourist program to the film industry. Stop guessing about the growth of local business as well as influx of new offices from outside the state that locate here thanks to the motion media industry and the incentives.

4) Direct all economic development offices, particularly regional offices such as the Right Place on the west side of the state and “Connection Point,” a partnership between Pure Michigan and the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, to include film and related tech companies into local econ development plans.  As long as the MEDC focus overlooks film and media, the other offices follow suit.

5) Provide training to communities to prepare to work effectively and smoothly with production crews and the Michigan Film Office (MFO):

                                     a) Distribute guidelines and benefits

                                     b) Help communities ID and promote unique locations

                                     c) Promote Film Friendly policies, marketing and tailored website pages

6) Establish High Tech islands, corridors, alleys or peninsulas  – whatever you want to call them – to help interested communities build economic drivers  within the motion media industries with as much foresight and recruitment as our current Medical Mile, Auto Alley, etc.

7) Encourage MI based clients and their ad agencies to employ local talent for commercial work.

8) Invite MI filmmakers to workshops on how to apply for incentives – what needs to be in a grant application.

 9) Help MI filmmakers prep for major film festivals – provide introductions to industry people who make decisions – showcase screenings and regional introductions to producers, agents, distributors, etc.

10) The MEDC already promotes a free technical education to high school grads under the Michigan Advanced Technician Training program ( ) aimed at helping students get trained in a “high tech in-demand field.” The program includes computer programming but none of the high-end skill training advocated for the film industry – core competencies for these skills are posted via a link on the MFO website under “Jobs and Training.”   

If just one college or university took on becoming a center for those highly skilled jobs, we would rapidly become known as an innovative center for this kind of training.

In short, the lack of MEDC involvement in the film and production incentives program seems a huge slap in the face of every legislator who voted to approve the program — and every Michigan citizen who wants to work in this industry. Where is the plan that will make the best use of a $58 million investment to generate a 21st century industry in Michigan that lasts?

Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Only we know the legislature will not renew the incentives again without significant results – meaning measurable increases in Michigan jobs and local business for Michigan workers – and who can blame them?

Right now the MEDC appears to be playing a waiting game – ignore the program and yes, it will go away. We would love to hear your thoughts on the situation! If you are not part of an upcoming SWOT session, add your comments here or on our Face Book page 

Read the article

Film Grid Updated again!

Hello Members!

New feature films have been added to our film grid. The grid has become smaller as a result of proposed changes to the incentive program. New additions are marked in RED.

Visit MPA's Film Grid - ONLY for MPA members!



MI Governor Signs SB569 - Applications to be accepted after Jan 1

Snyder signs new film incentive program, battery production tax credit into law Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday signed legislation that will help the advanced battery manufacturing and film industries grow while ensuring that economic development incentives awarded by the state are used to create jobs.

"The goal of these changes is to make sure that economic incentives result in job creation," Snyder said.

Senate Bill 569, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, replaces film credits that are currently hidden in the tax code with a $25 million budget appropriation for the new Film and Digital Media Production Assistance Program, which the Michigan Film Office will run. To qualify for funding, an eligible production company must have direct production expenditures and/or Michigan personnel expenditures of at least $100,000.

Under the new legislation, the Michigan Film Office must also create a publicly available performance dashboard, which will include specific measures including the amount of each incentive dispersed for each state-certified qualified production.

Gov. Snyder today also signed S.B. 855, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Kowall, which authorizes the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) to enter into agreements to provide incentives for the construction of advanced battery manufacturing facilities, but scales back the amount of incentives that can be offered and requires jobs to be created in order for companies to receive the incentives.

"As we work to bring new investment and create jobs, it is vital that we leverage Michigan's rich and varied asset base," said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. "The advanced battery and film production sectors offer significant opportunities to take advantage of our high quality talent. These credits will enable us to continue to attract major projects in both sectors within a targeted and fiscally responsible framework."

S.B. 569 and 855 are now Public Acts 291 and 292 of 2011.


In A Nutshell Cash Incentive Program

SB 569

  • To be eligible, projects must have expenditures of $100,000 or more.
  • Percentages
  1. 27% of direct production expenditures (goods and services purchased in the state)
  2. Michigan Personnel Expenditures (resident above and below the line)
  • 32% through January 1, 2015
  • 27% after January 1, 2015
  1. Crew Personnel Expenditures (non-resident below the line)
  • 25% through January 1, 2013   (2012)
  • 20% through January 1, 2014   (2013)
  • 15% through January 1, 2015   (2014)
  • 10% after January 1, 2015         (2015 and beyond)
  1. Qualified Personnel Expenditures (non-resident above the line)
  • 27% through January 1, 2015
  • 12% after January 1, 2015
  1. 3% for expenditures at a qualified facility or postproduction facility
  2. Payments for MI producers shall not exceed 10% of expenditures, 5% for non-MI producers
  • Not less than 5% of the funding awarded shall be awarded for postproduction expenditures for qualified productions.
  • Application fee equal to .2% of the funding request (minimum $200, max $5,000). REFUNDABLE
    • The Film Office must process the application within 21 days after the application is complete as determined by the office.
    • Participants receiving production assistance funds will be required to include an acknowledgement provided by the Michigan Film Office that promotes the Pure Michigan tourism campaign or any successor campaign.
    • Funding may be reallocated at the end of each fiscal year from unclaimed certificates of completion.
    • For interactive games, eligible production company need not possess ownership or legal control of intellectual property rights.
    • A television show may submit an application for no more than two successive seasons, notwithstanding the fact that the successive seasons have not been ordered.
    • The Michigan Film Office must disclose the identity and amount of all gifts, grants and other donations on its website.
    • The Film Office must submit a quarterly status report to the Legislature.
    • Commercials are not eligible.
    • Sunsets September 30, 2017.

MPA Activities

MPA activities traditionally slow as summer work increases! We will be planning sessions for Sept - May in July.

Stay tuned for sudden social opportunities though!

MPA Keep 'Em Rolling Film Incentives PSA

Production Community and Industry Members!

We are fighting for our industry in the halls of the Senate and in the Media. The latest tool we have is MPA's Keep 'Em Rolling PSA.

Directed by Mike Chait Produced by a team including Teresa Liming, Ellen Finn Mark Adler this spot is going out over the net and broadcast channels.

Watch it, send it, talk it up!


MPA's Keep 'Em Rolling PSA

Dr. Stan Williams' Economic Turbine

Dr Stan William's economic turbine demonstrates the ripple effect of film incentives business


NEW GUIDELINES for MFO Applications approval




The Michgian Film Office has finally released their guidelines which will be used to select projects for appoval. Many of these "weights" have been used and have been in the CURRENT law.

Thank you for your patience while we worked to establish the process and guidelines that we will utilize to approve applications currently in our pipeline and for the remainder of 2011.


As previously stated, the Film Office is operating under the directive of the governor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012.  Given that we have finite resources to work with, it is our intention that every project approved by the state be one that will be a good investment for our taxpayers.


To that end, we will be rigorously employing the criteria in the current statute to guide us in our decisions.


Preference will be given to projects that best meet the following criteria:

1.       The production company is financially viable

2.       Utilization of existing infrastructure (studios, post-production facilities, film labs etc.)

3.       The number and wage levels of direct jobs for Michigan residents created by a production

4.       Ability to show Michigan in a positive light and promote the state  as a tourist destination

5.       Magnitude of estimated expenditures in Michigan



The applications will receive a thorough review for economic benefit by a MEDC committee comprised of the Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications, the Senior Vice President of Policy, the Vice President of Business Development and the Director of the Michigan Film Office. This is true of applications across the board, regardless of where they may be in current review process.


This program continues to be jointly administered by the Michigan Film Office and the Department of Treasury and any project approved must be approved with the consensus of the state treasurer.


With the process and guidelines now in place we expect to convene our review group and move forward with approving 2011 projects as soon as possible.  However, these guidelines could be impacted by any bills that may be in development by the legislature.


As always, please let us know if you have any questions.



Carrie Jones, Director

Michigan Film Office

Phone: 517-335-7197

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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