Film industry in Michigan revs up with former auto workers

Lewis Smith's family helped build Michigan's bedrock industry. At the end of his automotive career, Smith was helping to dismantle it. He didn't like that work, so he got out and is building a new future with giant green screens.

For 22 years, Smith managed auto supplier plants. Then he spent several years doing cost accounting for a company that handled plant turnarounds.

"But after a certain point, there was no turnaround left," Smith said. "It was all liquidation and plant closing. ... I needed to sleep at night."

Today, Smith works in a building where auto parts once were made. But with a partner, he has transformed the former plastics factory into a 14,000-square-foot production studio in Clinton Township from which they are getting in on the ground floor of Michigan's nascent film industry.

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Film Business, Filmmaking


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