Michigan Filmed Oz the Great and Powerful Opens
The yellow brick road led Disney film makers to Michigan. Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful wasn't shot in the Emerald City, but at Pontiac's Michigan Motion Picture Studies. And some of the crew was from right here in mid-Michigan.
"It was unbelievable to see how they truly make the movies. Disney's budget was the largest budget in Disney's history... 323 million. To be a part of that from Okemos, Michigan is impressive. It was an experience I will never forget," said Carter Briggs who played a winkie guard in the film.
8 extras in the film are Lansing Community College alumni, as is the editor of the film.
"You'd walk in in your munchkin make up and outfit and walking along Mila Kunis, James Franco, Zach Braff, I'd get up in the morning, put my make-up on and be able to tell Mila Kunis hi," said one of the film's extras.
From munchkins to winkies to the strong man, mid-Michigan residents spent months in Pontiac making their jump onto the big screen.
"It became much more because we were there for so long it became much more than just being an extra or being in a roll. Now we're like family."
The movie is one of the most expensive in Disney history. but not without the help of Michigan film incentives. The state handed over $39.7 million, over half of the $75 million the state gave to film producers in 2010. Governor Snyder has cut the incentives since then.
"They say the movie industry in Michigan is okay, but really it isn't. Disney spent $323 million. And they wouldn't qualify for the new tax rebated by now, so I want to tell everybody they put a lot of people to work, so maybe we should rethink legislation," said Briggs.
Film incentives are currently capped at $50 million, but they may get another cut. Time will tell whether big budget producers like Disney will be taking that yellow brick road to Michigan again.