The set of the gritty cop show “Detroit 1-8-7” is one of more than 100 film and television productions that have flocked to Michigan in the last two years, the result of generous tax rebates. Producers have spent nearly $350 million in the state so far, a figure expected to reach $650 million by year’s end, up from $2 million in 2007, according to the Michigan Film Office. About 80% of these shoots take place in and around this iconic but much-maligned city, sprinkling a little stardust, optimism and controversy along the way.
Workers who used to build cars are learning to build sets. The entertainment sector is “a lifeboat as the auto industry adapts and restructures,” says Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano.
Signs of activity are everywhere. Hip-looking film-school grads on bicycles run errands in an empty warehouse that once served as a Chrysler distribution center and is now a cavernous 166,000-square-foot production studio for “Detroit 1-8-7.” Sets for the show, premiering on ABC Sept. 21, include a city morgue and a homicide unit with cluttered police desks and corkboards covered with mug shots.