Southfield’s Specs Howard Plans Film Training

Southfield — One of the nation’s most well-respected schools of broadcasting, the Specs Howard School in Southfield, is getting into the movie and TV business.

Beginning next month, the school will begin offering two workshops aimed at training production and post-production workers for future jobs on film and television sets.

"It’s a natural progression for us, given the state’s strong support for the growth of the entertainment industry here in Michigan," said Lisa Zahodne, Specs Howard’s president and chief operating officer. "We didn’t focus on film in the past because there wasn’t much here in Michigan."

But, since the state adopted the nation’s most-generous tax break for film, television and media productions — up to 42 percent of incurred costs are refundable under the program — Michigan has seen an infusion of new entertainment projects.

A number of recent shoots, including one for the comedy "Meet Monica Velour," scheduled for release this year, were shot, at least in part, at Farmington Hills-based Grace & Wild Inc., a full-scale film production and post-production facility that will form a strategic alliance with Specs Howard.

Grace & Wild’s Studio Center complex in Farmington Hills will host the workshops, which will last seven to eight weeks each, and begin July 13.

"It’s a great opportunity to use the dollies, sound stages and all of the other equipment already on site at Grace & Wild," Zahodne said.

Steve Julin, director of curriculum development at Specs Howard, will be one of the instructors for the two workshops, one of which will serve as an overview of the industry and a second that will focus on advanced editing techniques.

"We’re not going to graduate film editors or directors," Julin said. "But we will get people in the know about the language of the film industry and how the cost structure of the industry works. They’re going to get everything including pre-production, production and post-production."

The school will hold free sessions on the workshops at 5 and 6 p.m. June 24, which will include information about financing and available retraining funds from state agency Michigan Works! Specs Howard also has information about on its Web site at (

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