Thanks to the business of big budget movies, local university students have had the unique opportunity to be a part of the film-making industry. Ypsilanti residents got the chance to see the process in action as “Five-Year Engagement” turned downtown into a film set.
The movie caused N. Washington to be shut down for an evening as it was blanketed in fluffy, fake snow, stars of the film and local extras.
“I joined the Real Style talent agency last year,” Eastern Michigan University senior and communications major Caitlin Burns said. “I heard about [‘Five Year Engagement’] through them.”
Through these types of agencies, average locals can get their piece of the movie business.
“It was a good experience,” Burns said. “Jason Segel was a great guy and it seems like a great set.”
Fellow extra and Oakland County Community College student Lindsay Dowd also enjoyed her time spent on the film.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “I saw a lot of immaturity with some people, but there were other people who are really interested in film and respected the actors. It was a lot of fun working with those kinds of people.”
But, working in the movies isn’t all fun and games. It has its negative sides too.
“Working at night in the 40 degree weather with it raining wasn’t that much fun,” Burns said. “I worked them
with last Wednesday for almost eight hours and they didn’t feed us, but when I was with them the other times, it was a positive experience.”
Those who snag parts as extras aren’t the only ones who are impacted by the movie business coming to
“This is a drive for our culture and economy,” Dowd said. “More business is coming in and more films that are higher end cost more money and that means more people with jobs. That helps out everybody.”
Burns pointed out that it’s not just the obvious companies who get to benefit from the industry.
“There’s a lot that gets impacted when you’re talking about the movies,” she said. “People are hired as a driver for the movies, caterers are hired for the movie set. My dad works at Best Buy and Richard Gere’s assistant came in and bought a GPS from him. It helps boost the economy and boost the morale of people in Michigan.”
With the tax incentives and big budget films like “The Avengers” and “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” leaving the state, Michiganders might have to miss out on being part of the future of the movie making world.
“I wouldn’t have had a job last summer if I hadn’t been working on the movies,” Burns, who has worked on five films, said. “I really like making movies. It would be a downer if the movies suddenly ended and nothing else came.”
Dowd, who has also worked on five feature films and is working on her Cinematic Arts degree, might even have to leave the state to find work after graduation.
“I’m willing to wait and see where the film industry is going before I decide to up and leave,” she said. “I’d much rather stay then go somewhere that’s not my hometown.”
Even with the potential end to the business looming, that doesn’t mean people aren’t taking advantage of the industry here now.
“I enjoyed myself and had a lot of fun,” Dowd said. “I love working on movies, it’s really interesting and a really rewarding work experience.”