Since I’ve been kicking around Michigan recently on this blog I thought I’d find a quote from a Detroit son. Producer/director/actor/writer Scott Spiegal went to Wylie E. Groves High School in Birmingham, MI with Sam Raimi. He and Raimi wrote Evil Dead II, he directed Hostel: Part III, and acted in both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. The lesson: Chose your high school friends carefully.
“Detroit is not for sissies, you better have your act together when you’re in Detroit. Detroit is a tough city, very very tough. There are great people there & there are some not so great people there. The movie industry has been incredible for the economy of Detroit. To see people working there was pretty awesome. There was some stuff happening there but I think they cut the incentive for the studios. Still it was cool to see some dough coming to the local economy but if they can’t get the crime problem under control…you can’t let your guard down for a moment and that’s whats really frustrating…Sometimes you just get lazy here in L.A. because the climate is so easy. There is some crime but it’s in pockets spread out all over. I don’t know, I guess I just really love the warm weather out here. Even the crime out here seems not as tough as in Detroit!”
2011 Interview by The Black Saint at Horrornews.net
Though both Spiegel and Ramai live in L.A. these days they have returned to Michigan to shoot films. Last year Ramai shot Oz: The Great and Powerful at Raleigh Michigan Studios in Pontiac. The film stars James Franco, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz and the script was written by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. It will be released next year.
P.S. Back in 2009 I spoke at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and afterwards was asked by a reporter if I thought if the idea to turn old car factories into movie studios would work to attract feature film production. My reply was that it wasn’t wise to try to build an industry around film incentives—because incentives come and go. And that the only jobs guaranteed with the studios being built was actually construction workers building the studios. What do I know? I just a court jester in Iowa. Well, maybe you can add prophet to my title, because the Michigan great film incentives went away and in March of this year AP reported that Raleigh Studios has “defaulted on a $630,000 interest payment and could do so on another payment after failing to attract enough feature films.”
Maybe we’ve taken those inspiring words from the cornfields of Iowa in the movie Field of Dream—”If you build it, he will come”—too far. Where does the money come from if Raleigh Studios defaults? AP reports, “If the studio can’t make the payment, the State of Michigan Retirement Systems is obligated to cover it. The retirement systems invested in the $80 million project.”
Related Post: Michigan’s Sam Raimi & the Guy with Greasy Hair