Wii Game, Graphic Novel Help PixoFactor Digitize and Monetize Michigan’s Film Incentive

7/19/10

Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation 42 percent tax credit for filmmakers is often called the “film incentive,” but if you ask the folks at PixoFactor Entertainment in Royal Oak, MI, the bigger beneficiaries are those who work on videogame and animation productions. Plus, they argue, those jobs are longer-lasting and more local than movie production.

That’s why Sean Hurwitz, PixoFactor’s president, is in the business. “We feel like the digital side of this incentive has greater potential to create jobs and economy—or, Xconomy [Hurwitz motions over to me, and smiles]—here in Michigan.” A Hollywood film crew comes in for a short time with their own directors and actors, “underpays a lot of interns and a lot of local crews,” he says, shoots the film and then leaves. But it takes nine months to a year to produce a videogame, with local animators and programmers working the entire time.

There are currently about 20 people employed with PixoFactor. But that is about to double with the company’s latest project, one that Hurwitz is visibly excited about. They’re going to produce a new Ben Hogan golf game for the Nintendo Wii. Hurwitz says it will be the first Wii game developed in Michigan. The 42 percent tax refund is sitting on the desk of the Michigan Film Office, awaiting approval. Once that happens, Hurtitz says, PixoFactor’s office on the top floor of a Fourth Street building across the way from the Royal Oak Music Theater is going to be hopping.

The best thing about the project, says Nancy Kelley, PixoFactor’s marketing and business development principal, is that it’s local Michigan money being invested, so that the tax credit comes back to local Michigan people.

The primary local investor in PixoFactor is Envy Capital, based in Farmington Hills, MI. Hurwitz won’t say exactly how much Envy has invested, only that it’s “over a million dollars.”

Hurwitz brought Envy onboard a couple of years ago. He had partnered with the firm back when he was in the commercial real estate business between 2003 and 2007. Prior to that, Hurwitz, 41, a compact but muscular man, had spent 17 years as owner of a landscaping and construction business. PixoFactor … Next Page »

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