I am talking with producer Tessa Hawke, of Black Maria Entertainment. We are talking about the Michigan film incentives, and direction forward. While she had talked with Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer prior to the pandemic, this has changed, Governor Whitmer’s main concern is bringing the pandemic under control. Tessa is presently talking with another group about this
Although our conversation lasted for more than two and a half hours, these are the highlights of what we talked. Many of the things in which she is presently engaged could not be shared as she is bound by NDAs, This picks up approximately half-way through our conversation.
What do you see is the future of Michigan’s film incentives?
I would love to see the film incentive come back especially if we can set it up like Ohio’s. Since their incentive is 30% above the line, It would be more profitable than Canada’s incentive, allowing the independent filmmaker the ability to produce films with an incentive for their investors.
How do Ohio’s film incentives compare to the other states in the country? Do you know?
Michigan, of course, has no real incentive. I guess the real difference is the fact that Ohio is 30% above the line whereas in other states the percentage is divided above and below the line.
For those who may not know, can you explain the difference between above and below the line?
Above the line is necessary needs, everything else is below the line.
From where do you get most of this above the line talent?
When casting a project I rely on Republic Talent Agency, P+, and IGroup. As for the named talent, I contact them through my agent. As for the crew, I have been blessed to work with amazing people over the years and contact them directly.
Now you work in both commercials and films, the commercials pay your bills. Can you explain how this works.
Commercials are a-one-and-done. They pay three times as much as a movie set.. Movies and TV shows are my passion and are what I prefer to do. Commercials are funded by the company that hires you, which I’m assuming they can use as a tax write-off where movies and TV incentives are attractive for the investor.
Now you were saying films are your passion, whereas commercials are your bread and butter. To segue into films, can you talk about a movie in which you were wardrobe and Angel Matheson?
I was on a set in Ohio as a costume designer and the casting director they had was not a good fit. They parted ways so they brought on a new casting director last minute (who was amazing) giving her only a few days to cast an entire movie. Being in the casting department myself, I asked if I could help by sending her talent. She said, “ Please do.” I sent her Kayden Bryce for Malory, Angel for the Nurse, and Heather Fairbanks. They nailed the roles and booked the roles.
Have you done this before? Have you helped cast other movies in Ohio?
Most of the casting has been in Michigan for movies that have gone to Lifetime, Hallmark, and UPTV as for other Ohio Movies I have referred people to other sets.
What are you working on now?
Right now we focusing on producing and have been invited into the pitch rooms and we are presenting content to numerous networks. A few of these networks include Sony Faith Base, Facebook Watch, Hallmark, Lifetime, Discovery, History Channel, and UPTV. We are presently looking for content.