A group of business leaders who have benefited from the growth in the film industry in Michigan Wednesday announced the formation of Michigan Film First, a coalition to connect and promote the state’s movie, television and digital media production industry.

The new association will provide business, educational and networking opportunities to film-related companies and workers across the state.

It also will take a leading role in the effort to preserve Michigan’s film incentive program, which has resulted in an explosion of new investment in the state —  including the Clint Eastwood film “Gran Torino,” ABC television’s “Detroit 1-8-7,” and several permanent production studios.

“Michigan Film First will serve as a strong collective voice to promote this exciting industry, “ said David Haddad, president of Pittsburgh, Pa.-based production equipment rental company Haddad’s Inc. “Michigan’s film industry has been a bright spot in the state economy and holds even more potential for growth. We must band together to continue the viability of Michigan’s film industry.”

Since April 2008, when Michigan launched its incentive program, the film industry has created more than 7,000 jobs and spent more than $648 million in communities across the state, according to the Michigan Film Office.

A recent study by Ernst & Young found that for every $1 Michigan invested in the film industry program last year, $5.94 of new economic activity was generated. The popular Pure Michigan travel program only generated $5.34 for every $1 Michigan spent promoting the state in 2009. The study also found that film productions paid Michigan residents $42.8 million in wages and salaries in 2009, or about $53,700 per full-time-equivalent employee.

“Despite these successes creating high-wage jobs for technology, skilled trades and creative workers, Michigan’s film industry is widely misunderstood,” said Jeffrey D. Spillman, Ferndale-based production company S3 Entertainment Group. “Michigan Film First is working hand-in-hand with other industry supporters to promote, preserve and protect Michigan’s successful film production incentive program.”

Michigan Film First’s goals include:
* Grow the film and digital media industry from within Michigan
* Preserve and protect the incentives that bring business to Michigan
* Provide incentives for an indigenous production base
* Foster Michigan’s identity as a media production center
* Create more diversity at all levels of the community
* Develop strategic guidance to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders: politicians, corporations, organizations, and individuals

The new organization will have an informational meeting on March 3 for film and TV industry professionals interested in learning more about Michigan Film First and what they can do to help. For details and to RSVP, visit the organization’s website at www.mifilmfirst.com.


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