$20 million film studio plannedCarey Torrice
By Mitch Hotts, Macomb Daily Staff Writer
A Clinton Township-based film production company is expected today to announce plans for a $20 million multi-use film studio that will bring in new jobs and educational opportunities. Vanir Entertainment will break ground this spring on a 20,000-square-foot domed green screen facility on 26 acres of vacant land near Groesbeck Highway and Elizabeth, said executive producer Alex Greene. The facility could be the site for future movies, television shows, commercials and music videos, Greene said.”From the interest we’ve received from production companies, we see it as a major step to keep Michigan on the global film industry map,” Greene said in a statement. Greene, an Emmy award-winning television producer, is working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Macomb County Film Office, and officials from Clinton Township and Baker College to bring the project to fruition. The complex will eventually include several buildings including docking stations for mobile production units, overnight housing for visiting professionals, office and classroom space for degreed programs through Baker College, and three production studios. But the star of the show will be a unique domed green screen. Green screens are backgrounds used to create special effects in films and television shows.Most have height and width limitations, but Vanir’s will allow directors to film 180 degrees on the vertical and 360 degrees on the horizontal.Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon, who plans to discuss the project at his State of the Township address Friday morning at Clinton-Macomb Public Library, said the project was the community’s best news since development of Partridge Creek shopping mall.”I’ve seen the plans on paper along with their financial numbers for a one-of-a-kind studio and it appears to be a top notch project,” Cannon said. In addition to a green screen, Vanir is thinking green when constructing the facility. The complex will be built on a geothermal energy grid to lessen the carbon footprint and lower studio energy costs. Excess energy on the state’s grid could be a potential source of revenue. Vanir plans to lease the studio to visiting production companies who want to take advantage of the studio’s unique features and Michigan’s film tax incentives. Major studios and independent filmmakers are expected to be interested, said Lew Smith, the company’s chief operations officer. Smith said the business model calls for four sources of revenue including studio lease, production, film distribution and classes offered through Baker College.Baker, which has 43,000 students through an international online program and a burgeoning site in Clinton Township, will offer film development classes and internships. “This project fits in perfectly with our mission for training and development to offer new programs for a growing market in the state,” said Don Torline, president of Baker College of Clinton Township. In recent years, portions of major films have been filmed in Macomb County including Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino,” Eminem’s “8 Mile” and the upcoming “Red Dawn” in Mount Clemens. Greene, 55, who lives in Macomb Township, has a green screen studio in Clinton Township that eventually will be used for storage. He is the creator of the popular children’s television show “My Bedbugs,” which aired in 110 million homes in the United States and Canada and earned 13 Emmy awards. Greene, who also works in the music industry, has two reality shows in the works: “Social Graces” with instruction on dating, attire, and home dÃ©ecor from etiquette teacher Iesha Morgan; and “Misery Loves Company,” featuring a New Baltimore rocker and his band.