File photo courtesy: Associated Press
File photo of Curtis James Jackson III, known as 50 Cent. Associated Press.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - A production team is busy setting up to start shooting the movie "Set Up" later this month in Grand Rapids.
"We are here again and we are making more movies," says producer Randall Emmett.
This is the fifth film shot in West Michigan by Emmett and his team. He says he keeps coming back because of the state film incentives that pay up to 42 percent of the money spent in Michigan. And he is drawn by area's enthusiasm, cooperation and growing ranks of skilled workers.
"It's a great community. People are happy to have us and we are happy to be back," Emmett says.
"Set Up" is an action film centered around a diamond robbery and a double-cross. Recording artist 50 Cent, who has made several movies in Grand Rapids, is one of the stars. Bruce Willis will also have a lead role.
"He plays the mob boss," says writer and director Mike Gunther. "He plays 'Biggs' in the movie. He runs this town."
The director and production team have been in Grand Rapids for weeks, scouting locations.
"So far, this has been the best city I've ever worked in," says Gunther.
The movie makers will start shooting November 28 and wrap in about a month. They say they will be hard to miss around town.
"This is going to be a much bigger looking film and you will see us around town a lot more," says Emmett.
"We are going to shut down a major intersection downtown, wreck some cars and shoot some windows," Gunther says with a grin.
The producers say the steady evolution of the Michigan film industry means they can hire many more local employees to work on the movie.
"The percentages are getting greater now," says Emmett. "We aren't bringing as many people out of Los Angeles.
Assistant location manager Mitch Nyberg of Caledonia spent 16 years in California working in the film industry. He came back to West Michigan to care for his ailing mother and has stayed because of the job opportunities.
"Our film community is emerging rapidly with each of these projects," he says.
But the film makers admit Michigan governor-elect Rick Snyder's skepticism about the film incentive program is a concern.
"I'm concerned, of course," says Emmett. "But I know we put a lot of money into the community. I feel if the state sees the effect we have on the community I could never imagine them pulling these incentives away."
Before the election, governor-elect Snyder said the state's film incentives are too generous. He says he would not have supported them, but now that they are in place he "has no intentions of terminating the program overnight."