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Planning and Economic Development

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eMacomb - Featured Article, September 2010

Making Movies in Macomb

In April of 2008, the State of Michigan approved the nation’s most attractive incentive program for the film, video and digital arts industry.  The Michigan Film Incentive offers a refundable tax credit of up to 42 percent on expenditures made in Michigan.  The project must have a minimum budget of $50,000 and have an approved application on file with the Michigan Film Office (MFO).

As a result, southeast Michigan has been bubbling with activity.  Clint Eastwood sidles up to a bar stool at a Center Line VFW . . . a plane “crashes” into a quiet Mount Clemens residential street . . .  a car “explodes” in downtown Romeo.

While the incentive has brought Hollywood stars and special effects to our communities, it has also had a positive impact on our local economy.  Not only has the industry helped to retain and attract creative talent to our great state but it also has increased local spending in restaurants, stores and service-related businesses.

And while we wait for the proposed mega-studios to open their doors, there still remains a huge need to find places where specific scenes can be filmed.  Location scouting provides an opportunity for the average resident and business to get involved.  How?  By nominating your property as an ideal place for filming!

The MFO maintains a searchable database with thousands of entries from across the state.  Property owners may upload up to ten photos of their property as well as enter key words and information about the site to make it more visible to location scouts. MFO is currently looking to expand its database of possible locations.  Specifically, they are looking for:

  • Antique shops, thrift stores
  • Banks
  • Barber Shops, hair salons, tanning salons
  • Boutiques, crafts, unique gift shops
  • Candy, chocolate shops
  • Cigar bars
  • Convenience stores, wine/liquor shops
  • Flea markets, farmers markets
  • Florists
  • Funeral homes, mortuaries, crematoriums
  • Jewelers
  • Laundromats
  • Kennels, pet groomers
  • Pawn shops
  • Pharmacies
  • Restaurants, bars
  • Stores:  book, clothing, computer/electronic, department, hardware, jewelry, sporting goods and toy
  • Or, any other kinds of businesses that might be seen in a movie or TV show

A property owner with interest in making his space available – at a fee – for use by a production company should be aware of several things.  First of all, it is very possible that you will be asked to relinquish access to the site during the agreed upon time.  Typically, several days are reserved for “prep” before filming begins. And, after filming “wraps,” there are “strike” days budgeted for returning the property to the agreed-upon condition.  Production companies may also ask for “cover set” days to allow for contingencies in the filming schedule.  And, bear in mind that a “day” in the life of a production crew can be as long as 16 hours.

A reputable production will ask that you sign a “location agreement” that spells out these and many other site-specific factors.  As with any legal document, it is advisable for you as a property owner to confer with an attorney to ensure that your interests are protected.  You should also request to be provided with a certificate of insurance that includes a “hold harmless” clause to protect against any injury or damage that might occur.

The “Guide to Filming in Your Community,” produced by MFO, provides more details about what to expect if your property is selected.

If you are serious about making your property available, it is strongly recommended that you list it with MFO.  There is no cost to do so.  To get started:

  • View the MFO searchable database to see the types of properties already included. This will give you an idea as to what types of photos look best and what kinds of detailed information are provided in the description.
  • Take exterior and interior photographs of your property.
  • Upload your photos to the database and take the time to enter appropriate key words as suggested.

MFO will review your submission and generally approve it for posting within a week or so.  And, we at the Macomb Film Office would also like to know that you’ve made your place available.  Please send an e-mail to so that we too can help to drive bona fide location scouts to your place.

Read success stories here from those who have experience making films in Michigan.

Macomb Film Office

One South Main, 7th Floor
Mount Clemens, MI 48043


Michigan Film Office

Michigan Film Incentive

MFO Guide to filming in your community