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Recently ranked among the top 100 places to live in the U.S. by Money magazine, the city of Novi is becoming one of the premier locations to film large production movies, as well as smaller television and commercial productions. Home to picturesque parks, beautiful and safe neighborhoods, first-rate retail areas and some of the nation's most cutting-edge industries and corporations, Novi provides a unique opportunity for a variety of productions within one city. Combine these amenities with recent advances to become even more "film friendly" and Novi offers it all!
Hollywood Novi Venture Team
When the state of Michigan announced new tax incentives for film production companies doing business in Michigan, Novi Mayor David Landry and the city council saw it as a unique opportunity to add to the city’s flourishing economic development program. They encouraged city administration to look at how filming could be conducted in Novi if requests were received in response to the incentive program. Using the city’s ‘Venture Team’ concept of bringing together a diverse group of employees to quickly implement a new program or project, a team comprised of the assistant city manager, economic development manager, and fire marshal were assembled to lead the effort to draft a city film permit process. The Hollywood Novi Venture Team was launched. Other team members included representatives from the city’s police, finance, assessing, community development, and parks, recreation and forestry departments, as well as the Novi public library.
The Venture Team looked at the film permit ordinances and guidelines in other cities and states, and also met with local film producers to gain an understanding of their needs. Producers overwhelmingly suggested that the city’s process be easy, flexible and with a very short turnaround time, given the speed in which the film/television industry typically worked. It was also suggested that the film permit process be written to allow for administrative approval by staff rather than formal city council approval, again given the short turnaround necessary.
Ordinance Changes to Support Film-Related Activity
The team determined that the city’s temporary use provisions for street fairs and other short-term community events, which are processed by staff, was the most appropriate way to do film processing. The city amended its temporary use permit ordinance to allow for a special use permit for filming that could be granted administratively by staff. This accommodated the needs of the industry and achieved the “film friendly” goals established by city administration.
It was suggested that the fees for film permits be low to attract producers to Michigan. Novi’s fees for filming are $75 for television or other commercial shoots of less than four hours and $150 for all other motion picture and television filming in the city. Personal photography and video shoots for weddings, graduations and other non-commercial events are exempt from the ordinance and fees. Other fees and charges can apply if the production needs police or fire patrols for special shoots with large crowds, special effects or driving scenes. The city will make other resources available on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the request.
The adoption of these special ordinances and a streamlined permit process ensure all film crews’ needs are met while still ensuring the public’s health and safety and minimizing the impact of filming on other regular commercial and residential activities. The city has placed the film permit information and its one-page application form on its economic development website—investnovi.org/film. All of the forms are downloadable versions of the permit application, the city temporary use ordinance addressing filming in the city, and links to helpful resources, contact information, fees and guidelines. Also available on investnovi.org are links to helpful resources such as the Michigan Film Office and local production resources.
Since adopting the ordinance in October 2008, the city has hosted several commercial and film productions. In each case, film permits were processed in less than 48 hours. As part of Novi’s goal to attract the film industry, the city also created a database of citizens interested in being cast as extras in movies or commercials. It will be up to the film companies to utilize the database, but offering a database of potential actors is another aspect of becoming film friendly in Novi.
For more information about filming in Novi, permit applications and related documents and information, visit investnovi.org and connect to the Novi Film Office.
Pamela Antil is assistant city manager for the city of Novi. You may reach her at 248-347-0445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.