Economies expand or shrink. They are never static. Creating a creative-friendly economic and cultural environment for filmmakers in Michigan and other arts has many long-term benefits to the locality where movies are shot. One of these is the possibility to change how we see ourselves, as well as how others from other regions perceive us. Rightly or wrongly, perception often becomes reality, economic as well as cultural. As one of the leading influences in modern civilization, film has been proven to have cultural value, cultural association and cultural impact.
Not only do we need to continue to change the perception of being merely a State that just makes cars for the bi-coastals to belittle, but we need to continue proactive measures so that our own talented young professionals in every industry, (this includes green energy, electric battery manufacturing)–have an increasingly positive view of their home region and themselves. Our talented younger generations need continued encouragement and reinforcement for staying here in Michigan to contribute here, and not to move off to either the West or East Coasts or the Sunbelt.
Seeing our State emerge as a leader for major motion picture productions is a great psychological reinforcement to our collective self-esteem. Otherwise, we risk “a talent drain” and the loss of many dollars in a variety of industries if our best and brightest decide rightly or wrongly that we are second-rate. Again, it’s about perception, and perception eventually becomes reality.
The irony of the film industry is that while it is all pretend, it still has very real impact in the real world of dollars and cents, and not just where the creation of the film is concerned. Because economics and film both deal with psychology, because ultimately wealth is not just the possession of dollar bills, but an expression of psychological value that we assign to various goods and services, film and economics are related. And in a greater and more profound way than has been discussed here heretofore.
Choices have consequences, and this includes our economic choices, our emotional and economic support or lack thereof. And this includes our tax incentives or disincentives. The old axiom is again indeed true in the film industry as with any and all industries, “If you want less of something, tax it. If you want more of something, subsidize it.”
Apparently, despite the best efforts of many talented people in Michigan, primarily from the Detroit areas to Grand Rapids, there is still much work to be done for us to, at last, close the gap of awareness and appreciation for film that early producers had to face and overcome by moving geographically. (Hollywood early on moved from New York City in the early 1920′s to Los Angeles; and when Walt Disney moved from Missouri to California due to the cultural indifferences to film making and arts.)
Michiganders and it’s leaders should make the 21st century an era in which the Motor City and the Great Lakes manufacturing region invest in the future Walt Disneys, Steven Spielbergs, and Warner Brothers. So that they won’t have to move away and bless other regions in order to success financially as they bless the entire world with their creative spirit and genius.
Again, economics and economic decisions by our leaders do have consequences. A new 21st century Michigan Renaissance is possible IF we have the vision, the courage, the deliberate intention and the right economic formulas and incentives to make it possible!
Jonathan C. Rayos
CEO | Founding Partner
FilmEmerge Productions | FilmEmerge.com