Block Party filming generates excitement, jobs in Grand Rapids

Friday, October 08, 2021 4:44 PM | Anonymous

MiFIA visits set to promote MI film incentive legislation

LANSING, MI – Lights, action, camera and … a new film incentive credit for Michigan. All took center stage the past several weeks during the filming of Block Party in Grand Rapids.

Live from Grand Rapids – On the set of Block Party are, from left, John White, transportation coordinator; Lisa Mathis, writer/producer; Kelly Haddad of Haddads Inc.; Tom Burke, co-chair IATSE Local 26 political action forum committee; and Lindsey Katerberg, Michigan Film Industry Association Board member and 1st vice president of IATSE Local 26.Wrapping up Michigan filming today, the family comedy is the product of Branch Out Productions, an African American led production company based in Grand Rapids. Block Party follows Harvard grad Keke McQueen, played by Antoinette Roberson, who wants to leave her hometown for a career in Atlanta but decides to stay to save her grandmother’s annual Juneteenth celebration.

"Our comedy, Block Party, is set in Michigan, so it is important to add in as much regional flavor as possible," said Lisa Mathis, president of Branch Out Productions in a news release. "We're making an extra effort to cast locally while bringing more jobs to Michigan to strengthen our hub for diverse actors, producers and filmmakers. We believe casting local actors is good for the economy and good for creativity." 

Electrician Chris McLoed, left, and Gaffer Dave Lowing on the Grand Rapids set of Block Party.

The Michigan Film Industry Association (MiFIA) couldn’t agree more. Representatives of MiFIA visited the set to show their support as they pursue the introduction of legislation this fall to create a Michigan film incentive program.

“More than 40 states and U.S. provinces, along with 97 countries, with incentives know that its all about jobs, the economy and retaining talent,” said David Haddad, MiFIA chair. “Tax credits stay in Michigan and benefit local companies. We can no longer stand idly by while Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and other states capture all the advantages of film and commercial productions.”

The legislation creates a two-tiered tax credit that provides incentives for Michigan-produced commercials as well as film, television and streaming productions.

Initially introduced at the end of the 2019-2020 session, the legislation is drafted and ready for reintroduction this fall in both the Michigan House and Senate. The bills have garnered bipartisan support.

Behind the Scenes – Filmmaking equipment fills the room for shooting in Grand Rapids of Block Party.Earlier this year, MiFIA members and state legislators visited the Detroit set of Black Family Mafia, a new hit series on Starz. While the producers wanted to film the Detroit-based story entirely in the city, they spent only a week in Detroit with the remaining scenes filmed in Atlanta because of Georgia’s film incentives.

            “Michigan is a beautiful, versatile state for filming,” said Haddad. “It defies logic that Michigan-based movies and the Big 3’s automotive commercials are not produced here. We have the power to change that now and, in doing so, create jobs and boost the state’s economy.”

            For more information on MiFIA, visit


Michigan Film Industry Association (MiFIA)
117 E Kalamazoo St

Lansing, MI 48933

(517) 580 - 7710

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