George Clooney stops in area for film

Published 2:09 pm Monday, November 15, 2010

Residents of the St. Joseph area may be a little star struck this week.
The Michigan Film Office has confirmed actor/director George Clooney was in southwest Michigan this weekend scouting possible locations for an upcoming film.

Michelle Begnoche, communications advisor with the Michigan Film Office, said Clooney was checking out various locations for his new directorial project, “The Ides of March.”

“Typically, they’ll send us a script and we’ll break it down for locations,” Begnoche said of the process. “Or, they’ll tell us the types of locations that they’re looking for.”

The Michigan Film Office, with regional offices throughout the state, has compiled a gallery of more than 60,000 pictures, she said, of more than 5,000 locations in the state.

According to a story published in the industry magazine Variety, Clooney signed on to direct actor Ryan Gosling in the film, which is “an adaptation of the Broadway play ‘Farragut North.'”

That report also stated Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood are scheduled to star in the film.

Filming in the Great Lakes state is not new to the Academy Award winning actor, whose Academy Award nominated film “Up in the Air” featured scenes shot in Detroit.

Begnoche said the implementation of a 42 percent tax credit incentive along with its varied landscape has made the state more attractive to filmmakers.

“Our incentive is the most aggressive in the nation,” she said. “So that really makes people take a look at us when we’re getting ready to shoot.

“We have seen significant growth since the film incentive began in April 2008,” she said.

By the numbers, the total number of productions to take place in Michigan have grown:
• 2009 — 43 productions; $223.6 million total instate production expenditures
• 2008 — 38 productions; $125 million total instate production expenditures
• 2007 — 3 productions; $2 million total instate production expenditures

Also an incentive for the film industry: enthusiasm.

“People in Michigan are really excited about the industry being here and really welcoming the industry,” Begnoche said.

Film production not only gives local communities a little screen time but brings in business to those areas during filming and makes good use of a “skilled work force.”

Whether or not Clooney will settle on the St. Joseph region has to be decided but an application was received by the film office for permission to shoot in-state.

According to Variety, Clooney will pull double-duty in the film, playing a presidential candidate and directing the political thriller.

More information:

The Michigan Film Office says the state is growing in popularity with filmmakers thanks in part to an aggressive tax credit incentive:

So far:
• More than 7,000 productions jobs created since the Michigan film incentive passed in 2008.
• Additional 4,000 jobs as extras and day players
• 120 film projects shot in Michigan since the incentives passed in 2008
• $89 million paid to production companies to date under the Michigan film incentive

In 2010:
• 107 applications this year to date
• 57 productions approved for film incentive agreements this year to date
• 10 projects currently in pre-production
• 6 projects currently shooting
• 39 productions wrapped this year to date
• More than $300 million expected instate production expenditures in 2010