Studio signs may point to future movie productions

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Officials here are hoping that new signage at the Unity Studios complex and a recent visit to Tinseltown are steps toward making the city a major attraction for movie production.

City Council members Tuesday agreed to pay $25,000 to architectural firm Hobbs + Black of Ann Arbor for signage for the complex south of the municipal offices, which is anchored by the studios and the Lifton Institute for Media Skills.

Officials of the company call it a nationally recognized designed firm with over 40 years of experience providing architectural and engineering design and related consulting services, including involvement in building half of the 300,000-square-foot Lansing Community College Gannon Vocational-Technical Building, which features media instructional areas and a bluescreen room for film editing.

Architectural services not covered by Tuesday’s council authorization will be needed to expedite plans to renovate areas of the former Detroit Auto Salon buildings that the studios and institute occupy — especially the time-sensitive need for a 40-foot sound stage.

Mayor Gary Burtka said completing the stage by spring is critical to bringing movie producers and their financial backers to the city.

He and City Administrator Eric Waidelich went to Los Angeles for three days earlier this month and worked from 7 a.m. to midnight on two of those days meeting with potential backers.

“We met with some of the richest people in Los Angeles,” Burtka said. “We got verbal commitments to do movies here under certain conditions.

“The whole ordeal was very worthwhile.”

He and Waidelich said they returned with verbal commitments to make a couple of movies based on completion of the sound stage.

“We can’t do this with city money.” Burtka said.

On Wednesday, meanwhile, students from LIMS received firsthand experience in film production in the city’s municipal auditorium while shooting a scene for the movie “Blinded.”

Burtka said the experience allows students to establish Internet Movie Database credits to increase their marketability upon graduation.

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