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The Toronto International Film Festival has become one of the most important film festivals in the world, particularly for films that hope to generate awards buzz and begin campaigns for Oscar nominations. It has also launched previously unknown films to box office and awards success including "Juno", "Slumdog Millionaire", and "The Wreslter" in recent years.
This year was no different this year as premieres included "The Town" starring Ben Affleck which topped the American box office it's opening weekend as well as the Oscar contender "Black Swann," directed by Darren Aronofsky.
What did stand out at the Toronto International Film Festival was the number of film premiering that were filmed in Michigan and the talent connected to those films. Five Michigan productions premiered at Toronto this year featuring stars Jennifer Connelly, Robert Deniro, Ed Harris Catherine Keener, Edward Norton, Clive Owen, Sam Rockwell, and Hilary Swank.
Without a doubt, Michigan would not be attracting top flight Hollywood talent if it were not for the film incentives program enacted in 2008 which offers some of the most generous film production tax incentives in the country with the intention of providing Michigan an economic boost.
While we will examine the costs of the program in another post, the tax program has certainly been successful in attracting TV and film productions. The Michigan Film Office estimates that more than $300 million will be spent on productions in 2010 which is a huge increase from the $2 million spent on productions in 2007, the year before the incentives took effect.
As a result, Michigan has seen the rise of a new industry as each production means new investments and jobs. The five productions ("Conviction", "Stone", "Trust", "Vanishing on 7th Street", and "What's Wrong with Virginia?") that premiered at Toronto this month, generated over a 1,000 jobs according to the Michigan Film Office.
Not only do the film productions provide a big boost to the hospitality and catering sectors, but new career opportunities in set design and construction, writing, acting, and various production roles are now available to Michigan residents that would not be available otherwise.
As more and more films are made in Michigan and the state attracts recurring television productions such as HBO's Hung and ABC's new Detroit 1-8-7, new investments in studios and pre- and post-production infrastucture will continue to be made and result in more permanent jobs.
Furthermore, many have called the program a success for how it has drawn attention and glamour to the down-trodden state including largely optimistic coverage in large media outlets including a recent Wall Street Journal article, on the impact of the program which goes beyond dollars and cents.
Please chime in with your comments and feedback. Do you know a Michigan business that has seen a boom from a nearby film production? Have you run into a celebrity in Michigan or gone to watch filming? Let us know and vote for your favorite film shot in Michigan on the right toolbar.