New Grand Rapids studio hopes to help drive Michigan movie industry

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The new Black Pigeon Studios opened in downtown Grand Rapids Wednesday, offering space to create videos, films and photos and giving people a place to make Hollywood productions here in West Michigan.

One of the owners, Josh Sikkema, who is from Grand Rapids, hopes the studio can help drive the return of state tax incentives to make movies in Michigan.

“The studio is just a resource. It’s a stepping stone for those creatives to bring work here,” Sikkema said.

Michigan is no stranger to the movie industry. Scenes from “Transformers” and “Gran Torino” were shot here. In the 1980s and 1990s, “Beverly Hills Cop” filmed in the Mitten. Grand Rapids, specifically, has played host to its fair share of movies, like “Why Him.”

But most movies filmed here were made when tax incentives were in place under the Granholm and Snyder administrations.

Those incentives are now gone, but there have been attempts to them back. Last year, two bills were introduced to create a tiered tax credit for film, television and streaming production, with larger incentives for including a Michigan logo and hiring Michigan residents, but both bills died in the Legislature.

Sikkema and state Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, say there are now new efforts and new bills being drafted.

“Right now, we are doing everything we can,” Sikkema aid.

Black Pigeon Studios shot a short film in Grand Rapids last year. It is working to bring more people from LA to GR, but sometimes it best to let the money do the talking. 

“We would love for incentives to come back,” Sikkema said. “I think the people that were most affected by the incentives going away are local Michigan creatives.” 

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