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New Comedy Central pilot will be one of the last to get tax credit in Michigan

Film rolls.
Luca Nonato

It looks like a new Comedy Central pilot called "Detroiters" will be one of the last projects to get Michigan's film tax incentive.

The legislature voted this week to phase out the state's tax rebates for film crews that hire people and spend money in the state.

But that shouldn't affect deals finalized before the governor signs the bill into law.

Jenell Leonard, commissioner of the film office, says it’s been a busy week for the office as they rush to make sure all the current contracts are finalized.

“We're communicating with our clients, to ensure that everyone that we have promised an incentive to, that all of the boxes are checked, if you will, that the boxes are signed."

Meanwhile, Leonard says they’re also reassuring producers of projects that have already wrapped up filming that they’ll still get their promised incentives.

The lag time between filming and getting the tax rebates can be lengthy, she says, because films and TV shows have to go through an independent audit to make sure they actually met their benchmarks (like number of jobs created.)

One of the films that hasn’t gotten those tax credits yet? Batman vs. Superman, which filmed in Detroit.

"It's a process, and it's just realizing that you know, disbursements are going to happen after the legislation is signed,” says Leonard. "But we won't be in violation because those are current contracts." 

Critics of the incentives say the tax credits didn’t bring enough economic development to the state.

But supporters say they brought in jobs and helped sustain a small but vibrant industry in Michigan.

Leonard says even after the incentives do end, the film office will stay open and work to support that industry in other ways.

"For 30 years, we didn't have an incentive program. And the film office was still strong," she says. "The creative industry was still strong. And we will get there, as we move through this transition."

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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