Blog: Chad Wiebesick

Does Ann Arbor have its own Mad Men culture? Chad Wiebesick says yes. As the Interactive Strategy Director at Perich Advertising + Design and president of the Ann Arbor Ad Club he probably knows what he's talking about. Guess what he'll be writing about in this week's guest blog?

Chad Wiebesick - Post No 3: Michigan’s Growing Film Industry – How Ann Arbor Marketers Can Get a Sli

Hilary Swank. Minnie Driver. Clive Owen. Drew Barrymore. Michael Cera (“Superbad” and “Juno”). What do these actors have in common? They all starred in films shot here in Washtenaw County this year.

The state of Michigan is building a burgeoning new film industry to rival Hollywood. Michigan offers the biggest film incentives in the nation, up to an incredible 42% tax break for films produced in the state. It’s a gamble that’s paying off.

Before the film incentives were passed, two movies were made in Michigan in 2007. In 2008, that number grew to 35, generating approximately $120 million in revenue for the state. Nearly $60 million went directly to Michigan residents who worked on those films. And this year - that number of movies has so far skyrocketed to 85. The film industry has created 3,000 new jobs for Michiganders, according to the Michigan Film Office. The trailblazing film incentives are clearly working.

And it is working to bring business to Ann Arbor. The 4-day shooting of “Youth in Revolt” (starring Michael Cera) generated nearly $250,000 in revenue for local Ann Arbor businesses, from restaurants, hotels, beauty salons, and marketing services / printing firms. Conor O’Neill’s served food to cast and crew. Downtown Home and Garden sold sun hats and patio umbrellas. Sign-o-Rama printed signs for parking and set operations.

How does the growing Michigan film industry directly impact local marketing communication professionals? In many ways marketers can expect to benefit from movies made here. Films need public relation specialists, graphic designers, artists, illustrators, photographers, and copywriters. By way of example, Jim Burnstein, Director of University of Michigan’s Film and Video Studies Program, was an advertising copywriter before he began his film career as a screenwriter.

Like the marketing industry, breaking into the film business is all about networking and getting to know the right people. To that end, the Ann Arbor Ad Club recently hosted a panel discussion about the Michigan film industry and how local marketers can profit from Michigan’s money-making movie industry. The event was well-attended by the public and members of the press. An illustrious panel of speakers suggested three places to start:

First, read Michigan Movie Magazine, a bi-monthly publication devoted exclusively to the growing Michigan film making industry. The magazine sells on the newsstand (and at Borders) for $4.95 and this month’s issue reviews the Red Dawn remake filmed in Michigan.The magazine is a good way to get up to speed on current developments with the Michigan film industry. Chris Aliapoulios launched the magazine after serving as a Ford Motor Company executive for twenty years, testament that outsiders can break into the field with hard work.

Second, visit the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.This organization has an initiative to bring Hollywood filmmaking to Ann Arbor. In-state and out-of-state film producers turn to them in choosing filming locations, finding places to stay, selecting places to eat, purchasing set props, etc. Make sure you introduce your marketing company to their office and get on their referral list.

Third, attend a film industry training workshop to network and mingle with like-minded people and potential clients. The Michigan Film Office has a list of workshops and seminars: Dozens of training programs are quickly springing up to fill demand

Drop me a note if you’ve picked up business from the film industry. I’d love to hear from you.