Less Talk and More Action for Michigan Film Industry

Less Talk and More Action for Michigan Film Industry

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 3/21/2011)


As over 4,000 people packed the Michigan Film Industry Town Hall Meeting on February 24, 2011 at Laurel Manor in Livonia to rally behind the film industry tax incentives which have been attracting jobs to Michigan, Ryan Munevar listened to the “blah, blah, blah, clap, clap, cheer” and wished that people would “just shut up and start filming already.”


“We need our own projects.  Stop going across the country and looking for work, and trying to woo Hollywood here like we’re a vacation spot.  We need to get people here coming up with our own projects.  We need to do our own thing,” said the 31-year-old President of CinemaGrid LLC, a production company in Ferndale.

Munevar moved to Michigan in 2008 after having lived in both LA and New York, so that he could get his production company foundation built in an affordable place with a growing film industry.  Although CinemaGrid handles many aspects of film work, Munevar’s passion is scriptwriting.  His business sprouted from his successful script sales and his desire to produce his own films and television shows.


There are many in the industry with opinions about how to make it succeed, and the rally behind the filming tax credits has been in the media spotlight.  But Munevar’s opinion is that it is time to let it go and begin looking for ways for the local film community to succeed independently.


“Films were made here before the incentive,” he said. “and they may be here after, but only if we keep moving in that direction with or without Hollywood. …There is no clear path.  We just have to keep looking for work and making this an environment where there are lots of small jobs – people getting experience and working with each other – and money flowing.  We need investors from Michigan to fund Michigan-based projects.   These may not have the distribution of a big budget Hollywood film, but that’s not what we need right now.”  Munevar said that smaller projects would be better to focus on, because they are more realistic and will help people in the industry get practice.


He says that Michigan companies should go in two directions.  One is to seek out multiple small projects, such as TV shows, commercials, and internet content.  The other is lower budget Independent films that will demonstrate to the world that Michiganders can make full-length films from start to finish.

“One problem is that there are several pieces that go into a production, and Michigan is lacking some of those pieces,” Munevar said.  “You need Development, Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production and Marketing & Distribution.  We really only have Production and Post-Production here.  What this place really needs to do is assess where it’s weak and begin building infrastructure to meet those needs.  Education needs to emphasize budgeting, scheduling, casting, and scriptwriting – those types of things.”


The people will have to come from Michigan for the most part, he said.  “You’re not going to attract transplants here, because what’s the point?  There’s no work.  But natives who are not going anywhere are more likely to work and grow the industry here.  If natives don’t do it then we’ll never have a base here for the film industry.  As a state we need to invest in ourselves.”

He added that “people are putting a lot of money in infrastructure, studios and productions.  But we need projects that are Michigan made from start to finish, and projects that people will recognize.  We need to make our own TV shows that are good enough to get distribution.

‘…These projects aren’t going to fall into our laps.  Someone has to start them.  And pour their heart and soul and their own money into making them happen.  Those are the companies that are going to be successful, the ones who make movies because they love it.  People think the film industry is fun and glamorous, but it’s a lot of work.  There are 16 hour days of shooting, the hard time of going out to find work, the hours of networking to find the right people or to find investors.  We can’t just build part of an industry and wait for Hollywood to come.”

CinemaGrid has produced online videos for clients.  They also produced the short film Cat Tale, and are getting ready to launch their web show Friday 420.  They are also in production on two television series which they are hoping to be able to sell to a cable channel.  For more information about this Ferndale-based film company, check out www.cinemagrid.com.

For other film industry news, check out http://oaklandcounty115.com/category/film-industry.


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