(C. Proxmire, Nov. 15, 2012)
Sean Robertson loves Michigan. And he loves acting. And writing. And producing. That’s why when filming stopped on the show Detroit 187, the ambitious actor who played a Detroit police officer, made plans for a show of his own.
Great Lake State is the result.
It’s a Michigan-centric drama featuring a Michigan State Trooper whose job it is to guard the new Governor. The Governor is unlike any politician that’s made it to the top spot before; she’s a schoolteacher who was sick of seeing education cuts, so she ran for office. On her first day she took a 50% pay cut and asked the legislature to do the same.
“It’s not just about shooting, murder, and crime and drama,” Robertson said. “I wanted to create something that was positive, that showed people at their best. We’ve got the politician, but she’s somebody that is really in there trying to make a difference.”
The other goal of the series is to highlight Michigan products, places and people. “I had an invitation to move out to LA for acting work, and believe me I gave it some thought. But this is my home. I don’t want to leave for my own success. I want to lift up people where I live. Michigan has lot to offer, and I am showcasing that so more people will see what a great place the Great Lake State is.”
Robertson has even gained the “filmed in Pure Michigan” logo. He’s also gotten support from companies like Blackberry, Better Made Potato Chips, American Coney Island in Detroit, Broner Hats and Gloves in Michigan, Emagine Entertainment and Valentine Vodka from Ferndale.
Rifino Valentine, owner of the quickly-growing distillery, said “I absolutely loved what this guy is doing. There are so many great Michigan companies putting out great products. A lot of these are not just local favorites, but these are world-class leaders.” Valentine Vodka has been on the market since 2009, and has quickly grown with a strong reputation across the country. Their micro-distilled vodka is top quality, and the brand is soon to be launching Valentine Liberator (a gin named after the fact that Detroit build a lot of Liberator Bombers for World War II), and Valentine Woodward Limited Whiskey (named for the great Woodward Avenue).
And now Valentine can add “product featured on a tv show” to their list of accomplishments. The pilot episode (part 4 of the You Tube series) showcased Valentine Vodka in the midst of a romantic bath scene. Bubbles, chocolate-covered strawberries and Valentine Vodka set the mood for love, and give the Ferndale-made product a boost in public recognition.
Valentine said he is so impressed with Robertson’s work that he’s even hired him to help film an upcoming promo. for his products apart from the Great Lake State project.
Great Lake State started out on You Tube. Soon after, the pilot aired on Detroit public television. Then on Oct. 20, 2012 at 1pm it was broadcast on Detroit TV station TV20 as part of paid programming. Robertson’s production company 313Wood LLC placed the program with the channel to help build popularity and see if it helps attract sponsors and a regular outlet. Getting a show picked up can be a long process that takes determination and persistence. Many start out self-produced and self-promoted, until a bigger entity picks it up. “I don’t mind the process. I don’t mind going slow. I insist that people who work with me are paid that that this is a professional production. If it takes a little longer to do things right, it’s worth it. I believe in it.” The SAG-AFTRA (The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) production uses paid guild actors because, Robertson said, “this is a professional project and actors deserve to be paid for their work. There are people who want to volunteer, but I insist on doing this right.”
In the couple of years that filming took off in Michigan thanks to tax credits, Robertson worked as an extra in every movie he possibly could, until he was plucked from the extras by Detroit 187 and given a speaking role. He’s educated himself on every aspect of filming and production, and is the director as well as a main character.
Actress Rio Scafone was also in Detroit 187. Since that project’s life was short, she has joined Robertson in making Great Lake State. She plays the teacher-turned-governor Ashley Feral, who also has some marital problems to contend with as she takes office. In Pure Michigan form, the fictional governor in the series hails from Ferndale.
The first five parts of Great Lake State can be seen on this YouTube playlist – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8GAv2-gTKI&feature=bf_prev&list=PLB89314D52C9331F3. Valentine Vodka makes it’s appearance in part 4. The best way to keep up with information about the series and its progress is through their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakeStateTVPilot.
Robertson also has a book series on Amazon based on the Great Lake State series, as well as other books. Find those at http://www.amazon.com/Sean-H.-Robertson/e/B004BQ52FW.