TechTown, Unity Studios Will Partner to Produce Michigan-Based Film Crews
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the local talent has surpassed even his optimistic projections. Former auto workers know what it’s like to be a piece of a larger industry—whether it is automotive or film.
“When people talk about Detroit being a one-horse town—a one-business town—it is true, but if you look at the scope of what that business is, we’re talking about something that has multitudes of Tier One, Tier Two, Tier Three businesses, that by themselves are standalone, powerful businesses,” Lifton says.
You’re talking about an industry that is very much akin to a manufacturing industry, he says, creating products from the idea to distribution. “And, these days, it just happens to be in zeros and ones as opposed to steel,” Lifton says.
But just having the skills is not enough, Charlton says. You have to learn how to sell them. The film industry differs from the auto industry in that almost every worker has to be virtually a one-person company.
“You’re a computer animator, so how do you get in touch with the next moviemaker that’s coming into town?” Charlton says. “How do you make sure that your talents and your services are made available?”
TechTown will teach these workers how to organize themselves so that they can take advantage of filmmakers who come to town, once their production clocks are ticking.
But what happens if Michigan’s tax incentive for filmmakers goes away or another state offers something better? Charlton says the film industry could just as easily go elsewhere, but Lifton is more optimistic.
He says that while the tax incentive is a strong one, and that Michigan was “very brave” to offer it, his studio is here no matter what.
“Our vision, our mission is not based on any government action,” Lifton says. “It is based on a mission to put people to work and create a new industry.”