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March 16, 2011 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-16

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Q3 Wed*esday,0March0

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FILM TAX
From Page 5B
"Right now our job is to educate
(legislators), to let them know,
'look how this is benefiting the
state, look what it's creating, look
what we're doing,' " Rubin said.
"Look at Danny and I, two kids
who started a production compa-
ny and have helped pump millions
of dollars into the local economy."
But it was never just about the
money. For Sardarov, the impact
of the incentives was shown
through the revitalization of
Detroit, which has seen a grass-
roots Renaissance through the
city's youth.
"The government keeps talking
about numbers and numbers, but
you can't base society off num-
bers," he said. "It's about the spirit
that kind of injects into the soci-
ety - there's this hope, and hope
is intrinsic. You can't buy hope
with numbers, you can't buy hope
with tax incentives."
He went on to tell the story of
shooting a scene in "The Ides of
March" on abus full of extras.
"We get off the bus, and I think
it was George Clooney himself
that said, 'I have never seen this
much passion coming from extras
- they're going at it, they're doing
everything we tell them to do,
you could just see it in their eyes,'
" Sardarov narrated. "People
in Detroit have never had these
opportunities before, suddenly
they're coming in tenfold."
"This is something where peo-
ple can go to the movie theater,
and they can see their city, their
state immortalized up on the
screen," Mooney said. "It's Robo-
cop, it's Detroit, it's Grand Rapids,
it's the gorgeous U.P. That's some-
thing people get proud about."
Burnstien is frustrated by the
resurrection of the "brain drain,"
which had been minimized in
recent years because of the film
incentive laws.
"All those workers that have
been trained, all those young
people we've trained, they've
got a skill, and they're going to
go where the action is," he said.
"That means we're going to lose
them to states like Louisiana,
Ohio and Georgia ... and they'll go
to California."
Michigan filmmakers appear to
have the support of the citizens.
At a town hall meeting in Livonia,
Mich. last month that featured
author and Detroit Free Press
columnist Mitch Albom, actor
Jeff Daniels, Burnstein and oth-
ers speaking against the proposal,

about 4,000 people showed up
when the organizers only expect-
ed an audience of 500.
Despite their activism, many in
the industry are facing the real-
ity that their careers as Michi-
gan filmmakers are potentially
defunct.
"I gave my landlord my two
months notice that I'm moving
out," Zakalik said. "And I'm going
to figure out what I'm going to do.
I thought about moving to North
Carolina, which has a pretty good
business there ... I don't know ...
It's like, what was the point? Why
did we stay if we're just going to
be told we can't get a job tomor-
row?"
Saradov said he was planning
on staying in Michigan until "the
well ran dry."
"If this passes, I'm going to be
going to New York or L.A., unfor-
tunately," Saradov said. "I got on
a good roll, and I want to keep
going. If things were sticking
around here, I'd definitely be here
no question about it."
LSA senior Tian-Jun Gu was
planning to stay around Michi-
gan after graduation and work
with friends to write and produce
viral videos in the vein of "Funny
or Die" - hiring Michigan actors
and crews, of course. But after the
proposal, his plans might change.
"The problem with (Snyder)
even proposing it is the fact that
it scared businesses off," he said.
"Now studios are going to be look-
ing at Michigan to see if we can be
trusted.
"These film incentives, even if
they are kept, are always going
to be in danger of being cut. It's
looking more and more like L.A.
is going to be a possibility for me
because of that inherent danger,
even if the film incentives are
kept."
Still, in the midst of all the
uncertainty, Burnstein sees no
reason to give up hope.
"Do I think we have a reason-
able shot saving this thing? I do,
or I wouldn't be doing it," Burn-
stein said. "Do I think it's a slam
dunk? Of course not. You know, if
we lose, I want to walk away and
be able to tell my students 'I did
everything I could to try and save
this opportunity for you.' If we
fail, we fail, but I'd be damned if
I'm not going to try."
University students, enjoy the
celebrity sightings while you still
can - they may be soon gone
for good. But more importantly,
because of the Governor's pro-
posal, our school's budding actors
and filmmakers may be gone for
good too.

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