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10 Tips for Shooting in Detroit

Posted by Brad Spinsby on August 18, 2014

Detroit has always been referred to as the “Motor City” or “MoTown” because of the city’s long recognized historic heart of the American automotive and music industries. Preston Swigart, broadcasting and corporate television producer of PSVideo, stated “Detroit residences assume that non-Detroiters have heard bad things about their city, but they want to show us the misconceptions of Detroit.” Detroit is a great city! The Motor City is rich in culture and history and when you are there it is apparent that the people of the city are very proud and optimistic to call Detroit home. Detroit is actually beautiful and filled with many historic homes and remarkable landscapes. With that said, here are the Top 10 hints for you to remember when shooting in the commonly misunderstood city of Detroit, Michigan.

detroit motown Larry Evey shooting in detroit photo courtesy of Larry Evey – West Coast MEDiA

TEN: Valerie Nolan, VP of Production at Crews Control recommends not shooting during the Detroit Auto Show, which usually takes place mid-January. Nolan states that unless you specifically have to shoot something at the Auto Show it might be better to avoid this event because Crews will be scarce and expensive. If you do need to shoot at the Auto Show, make your arrangements well ahead of time.

NINE: “A lot of people have described Detroit as a city of extremes.This has to have something to do with the multitude of amazing new revitalized buildings and ball stadiums downtown to the desolate buildings of it’s past, there are contrasts everywhere and great opportunities for amazing footage. Within the shadow of one of the tallest buildings in town, the Renaissance Center (now GM world headquarters), is an abandon factory from the early 1900’s. The “people mover” is an elevated train that winds all around the core downtown area in and out of various buildings. It can add additional visual interest to any shot” says Crews Control represented DP Larry Evey.

detroit rencen old bld Larry Evey shooting in detroit photo courtesy of Larry Evey – West Coast MEDiA

EIGHT: “The best cityscape can be shot from a little known area to outsiders called Belle Isle Park. This small island located in the Detroit River within shouting distance of Canada, was a city park that just became a State of Michigan Park. Designed by the same person that developed Central Park in New York City, Belle Isle Park provides a great location to shoot beautiful skyline vistas of Detroit.” says Evey.

SEVEN: Evey says to always remember that no matter what you are shooting in Detroit there is always a unique location to complement your story. So take the time to learn, tour, and take in everything around you when in Detroit.

SIX: Evey explains “Detroit is rich with culture, history ….and troubles! Detroit is a misunderstood city with a lot of stories to tell. You will find the people of Detroit very optimistic and proud of their city. As a video shooter/story teller it would be beneficial to get up to speed on the city’s history.”

FIVE: Preston Swigart says “Contrary to popular media conceptions, in all likelihood you will live to tell about your shoot in Detroit. You might even enjoy it.

FOUR: Here are a few fun facts about the city:

  •  “8 mile” to Detroiters is actually a road, not a movie.
  • You might be surprised to find Detroit as a city with incredible historical architecture and beautiful old neighborhoods.
  • East Coasters, I know you refuse to believe it but Detroit is in the same time zone as you.

The official website of Detroit’s: Special Events and Film webpage supplied us with three more hints that are worth knowing when filming in the Motor City.

THREE: The City of Detroit aims to assist production and special events producers with the execution and logistical management of their production. The office is positioned to assist with obtaining necessary permits and departmental clearances.

TWO: The City of Detroit has become a popular place for special events, film and productions. Detroit offers beautiful landmarks such as lakefronts, picturesque landscapes and inviting cultural attractions. These backdrops matched with an urban flare that can make your project exciting and unique.

detroit people mover Larry Evey shooting in detroitphoto courtesy of Larry Evey – West Coast MEDiA

ONE: Film makers will find the State of Michigan’s 42% tax incentive makes Michigan and Detroit one of the most attractive locations for film production across the nation.

Detroit’s dynamic surroundings translate into great video. We want to hear from you. Please share with us your experiences of video production in Detroit on our blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, or LinkedIn account.

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