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Detroit to replace Hollywood as filmmaking capital?

The American film industry has suffered from a deep recession that has left indie filmmakers and big Hollywood producers struggling to find investors.

Compared with Europe, America does not have a Film Council or national organization that finances and supports film production from shorts to features. Often, American filmmakers envy Europe as a place to make films because of the widely available soft money , or government financing.

Recently, The Tourist starring Angelina Jolie was shot in France and benefited from a tax rebate from the CNC. 15 foreign productions have come to France since the scheme started bringing in over 90 million euros to the local economy.

So how does Detroit play in to all this? 3 years ago, the state of Michigan passed a groundbreaking tax credit that allowed productions to recoup 42% of their expenditure, which has encouraged new productions to shoot in the state. Hollywood, the centre of the American Film Industry has suffered from a huge state budget deficit, writer and actor strikes and film productions have been moving elsewhere because of the lack of incentives. Sure there is big business in California and major TV series like Fox’s ’24’ have been shot their until recently, but other states such as Michigan are proving to be a new destination for indie and major films to shoot.

Detroit, traditionally the automotive centre of America has shifted gears as it seeks to become a cultural centre for the arts. With a diverse range of film and TV studios, independent film producers, and facilities, it would seem that there is a lot of opportunity for the local community to encourage a new art form and help those bringing financing together with these generous tax incentives. The enthusiasm and local spirit is high, with a keen readiness to boost local filmmaking. One such organization that helps local talent is the Detroit Film Centre, providing workshops, screenings and low cost equipment rentals.

Recently the 2010 Detroit Windsor International Film Festivalcame to a close awarding Dutch filmmakers Mascha and Manfred Poppenk with the two top honors for Grown in Detroit , a documentary which focuses on a school in Detroit that teaches parenting and pregnant teens to become independent and knowledgeable about urban farming and the principles of business (The Catherine Ferguson Academy)

So before you head on over to Los Angeles to break into Hollywood, why not stop over in Detroit to see why this unlikely backdrop is getting a thumbs up.

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