AMC's New Detroit Cop Show Pours Millions into Local Economy

May 01, 2013, 12:01 AM by  Allan Lengel

Jobs. Housing. Hotels. Building supplies. Transportation. Catering twice daily for about 100.

The new AMC cop show being filmed in Detroit -- “Low Winter Sun” -- is injecting millions of dollars into the Metro Detroit economy.  The show premiers Aug. 11.

“No other crew in this town has been so predominately Detroit,” says Charles Carroll, the show’s producer.

“We’re spending a lot of money here,” Carroll said. “Including salaries of local people, Michigan state taxes, sales taxes, restaurants, bars, gasoline, condo rentals,  it’s certainly probably close to $10 million just for the first season." 

Producer Charles Carroll

The state of Michigan has given the show a $7.5 million incentive grant through a program designed to stimulate the economy and produce jobs.The show already has done a pilot and has nine more episodes to film for the first season. That should be completed in August.

Specifically, Carroll says 85 of the 125 or so permanent crew members of the show are from Michigan, and primarily from metro Detroit. 

That includes sound people, camera crews, grips (lighting and rigging technicians), electrical workers, Teamster drivers, accounting staff, hair and makeup, a stunt coordinator, costume designers, people who pick locations for shoots and graphic designers.

“A significant number of department heads are from the Metro area,” he added.

There are also some local actors, including two recurring characters in the show: Nikola Shreli and Joseph Kathrein, and there could potentially be more, Carroll said.

Cast Renting in Detroit

Some show executives and actors and actresses, who are from Los Angeles, New York or London, are putting money into the housing market by renting houses, apartments or condos.

Carroll, who lives in Los Angeles,  is renting a house on Harbor Island on the Detroit River.

Most of the eight main cast members are renting in Midtown or downtown. Two are staying in a northern suburb.

Hotels get a cut of the action as well. Some writers,  executives  and actors who come in for intermittent roles will be holed up in hotels.

Mark Adler, director of the Michigan Production Alliance, says AMC has clearly decided to spend very locally. For one, they’ve set up offices and studio in a warehouse on E. Grand Blvd., next to the old Packard plant.

“They’ve chosen to shoot in Detroit and they’ve chosen to build their office in Detroit,” said Adler, who worked on the pilot for the show last October. “They’ve got a stage built there. There’s not a small cost of building that stage. They’re putting money into building a police precinct.”

“They’re reshooting some things from the pilot at local bars,” he said. “The bar owners will be paid for the use of their space. They’ll be compensated very well.”

He said crews can work up to 80 hours a week.

“That’s eight hours of straight time and then time and a half after that,” he said.

Mark Strong and Athena Karkanis in "Low Winter Sun."

Caterer Buys Locally 

Then there’s the caterer, Chow Catering, of Clarkston, which has catered many Hollywood shoots, including “The Ides of March” and “Harold & Kumar III,” films and the HBO TV series “Hung.”

Owner Kurt Michael Peters, whose family catered at the Pine Knob banquet facility, runs the company with his wife, Heather. Their six employees include chef Tony Goodrich.

He puts out a spread twice daily that feeds about 100 for breakfast and lunch. Depending on the shooting time, he says lunch can be served up at 10 p.m., breakfast at 3 p.m.

He said he tries to do three protein choices for the big meal like a fish, chicken and beef.  The other day the menu included prime rib, fried talapia and pork chops. 

He said buys a lot of his meat and produce at Eastern Market and lot of his seafood at Superior Fish Company in Royal Oak.

And when there’s substantial leftovers, he says, he drops off the food at local churches to feed the poor.

Peters said with the film incentives being reduced in Michigan, things were drying up for his catering business, which relies heavily on the entertainment industry. 

“If ‘Low Winter Sun’ hadn’t shown up, we might not have been doing this any more. It’s been dry.”

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Potd__mg_9613-2_155 Metal sculpture in the Hart Plaza Civic Center, Detroit

By: Michael Lucido