We’re thrilled to welcome aboard the newest contributor to The Woodward Spine, Nicole Vowell, a passionate journalist who currently is a freelance writer and web reporter for Patch.com. Nicole attended last week’s rally to save the Michigan Film Industry Tax Credit, which is slated to end up on the cutting room floor under Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget.

I wasn’t sure if I was at the right place when I walked into the “Michigan Film Town Hall Meeting” at Laurel Manor in Livonia last Tuesday night. It felt like I was at a Justin Bieber concert or perhaps Jon Stewart was in town to reprise the “Rally to Restore Sanity”— over 4,000 people were in attendance. Although it did feel like a rally to restore sanity–Gov. Rick Snyder’s sanity, that is. People from all over the state of Michigan and abroad crammed together to listen to Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom, actor and Michigan native Jeff Daniels and many other speakers contribute their thoughts to Snyder’s killing of the Film Tax Incentive, which was implemented by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in May 2008. Originally the meeting was scheduled to take place at Maxsar Studios, a CGI Company, in Livonia – a million-dollar facility – but as soon as Snyder made his decision to do-away with the tax incentive for Michigan films, a larger venue was absolutely necessary.

The meeting was started off by Ken Droz, consultant and former communications manager of the Michigan Film Organization. (MFO), asking the cramped audience to give a show of hands to those who had moved to, yes that’s right; moved to Michigan for the film business and hundreds of hands filled the air.

Albom followed Droz in the speaking line-up and proclaimed “This is not about saving Hollywood, this is about saving Michigan!” he went on to talk about the growth the film industry has single-handedly brought to our state, “We grew from 2 million to 225 million in two years, that’s a hundred fold growth,” Albom said. But, if Snyder kills the tax,  “It’s like trying to get fishermen in Nebraska–it won’t happen, fishermen are going to go where the water is and the film people are going to go where the incentives are.”

“This is not about saving Tom Cruise, this is about saving ‘Tom Farmington Hills’, ‘Tom Novi’ and ‘Tom Detroit’” – Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press Columnist

Even though Daniels was noticeably pale do to a bout with the flu, he thought this meeting was important enough to attend and give his ‘flu’cents. Daniels previously met with Snyder to speak about the film tax on December 9, 2010. “Before I even sat down he said, “I don’t want to kill it” Daniels said, “I am an actor, one of the tools of my trade is to remember things, and that is accurate.” Daniels said he thought he was preaching to the choir, “He gave me the impression that he cared” He said he left the meeting feeling good about the whole thing and even told his friends in film that everything was going to be OK. “I’m accurate when I say I felt like I was talking to a politician, he said one thing, ‘I don’t want to kill it,’ then he went to Lansing and did another –he killed it.”

“It is up to you people, everyone one of you people has got to get on the ass of your representative in Lansing — you have to get in there, email them call them, you have to do the heavy lifting and find out who to talk to — you have to hound them or else this thing is going to go away” — Jeff Daniels, actor

Other stern speeches resounded from the speakers at Laurel Manor that evening, including (but not limited to): film students from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, whose message was to keep the prosperity of the industry within the state, Emery King, Chair of the MFO Advisory Council, Philippe Martinez, CEO of Maxsar Studios a CGI company. “I have traveled the world and one by one I have found people here that have amazing talent,” said Martinez, who emigrated here from France. Over the last year Maxsar studios has hired and trained 50 locals for production jobs.

Andy Meisner, Oakland County Treasurer and a former congressman, also had commented on the slaying of the tax credit. “We put all of our eggs in one basket with the auto industry, and that was our biggest mistake. We need to diversify our economy.”

The bottom-line is this–there are power in numbers, so lets make a difference! There will be another meeting on March 11th, 2011, and we welcome Snyder to attend. The location and time is to be determined — and from the turnout at the Justin Bieber concert….err, I mean the “town hall meeting” at Laurel Manor, the Joe Louis Arena may be our best bet! But, in the meantime please contact your local legislator. Hound them by email, telephone, snail mail and when you’re done tell five people to do the same! We need to save Michigan jobs not slay them, and film is our future!

“and…..CUT! That’s a wrap” (the article not the tax!)

“Work it out, don’t throw it out!!!”

To contact you local Legislator please visit :



Send Mail to:

P.O. Box 30036

Lansing, MI 48909-7536

– NV

About The Woodward Spine

The Woodward Spine was the brainchild of Michael Fossano and Jeffrey Buck, two Royal Oak, Mich. natives who met nearly 10 years ago while attending the now-defunct George A. Dondero High School. It seemed fitting for the two Wayne State University alums to craft an outlet to help continually refine their writing skills, while also serving as a trusted source of information for the metro Detroit community. The Woodward Spine aims to inform its readers about relevant news and events through creative and informative posts not only by Mike and Jeff, but other upstanding citizens as well who are driven and proficient in these core areas: news, opinion, entertainment, history, sports and development. The Woodward Spine serves the tri-county metro Detroit area, however concentrating mainly on the communities that lie along the Woodward corridor.
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