By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Apr 17, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Despite voicing support during his campaign for increasing tax incentives for people who film movies in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker's new budget maintains caps set by former Gov. Jim Doyle that make it nearly impossible to lure major productions to the state.

While the folks in Madison clearly have bigger fish to fry at the moment, it's a blow to Wisconsin film buffs.

"There is really no financial incentive for big productions to come to Wisconsin unless there is a specific thing that they need...It really leaves us out of the big studio feature picture," said Michael Graf, a Film Wisconsin board member and owner of Madison-based commercial production company Spot Filmworks.

With Michigan's governor proposing a $25 million credit cap to our $500,000 one, it may be a long time until we see a major motion picture filmed here again. Although Film Wisconsin will do what it can with its modest incentives.

"For the next two years that is really going to be our focus, to market the state to indie films," Graf said.

Although our fast forward button may be jammed at the moment, let's hit rewind and take a look at just a few of the films from the Dairy State's Tinseltown past.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Release date: July 2011

This summer blockbuster shot for two days on a closed set at the Milwaukee Art Museum last July. About 150 crew members and some of the primary cast including Shia Labeouf were in town for the shoot which is said to be a "pivotal scene" in the movie.

Public Enemies

Release date: July 2009

This 2009 film about notorious bank robber John Dillinger, which starred Hollywood heavyweights Christian Bale and Johnny Depp, lead to a drastic cut in state tax incentives to filmmakers after it was learned the production spent only about $400,000 more in the state than it received in tax breaks.

The film's Greencastle Bank robbery scene was shot at the Milwaukee County Historical building downtown and an art deco apartment building on Prospect Avenue stands in for Dillinger's Chicago apartment building. Further shoots in Wisconsin took them to Oshkosh, Beaver Dam, and Madison.

During the filming Depp was approached by then 12-year-old Oshkosh resident Jack Taylor who told him he admired his fedora style hat and asked if he could have it. Depp told him he could have it after the film wrapped and later made good on the promise sending it to Taylor in the mail.

Mr. 3000

Release date: Sept. 2004

Starring the late comedian Bernie Mac as a baseball star Stan Ross who goes by the nickname Mr. 3000 who must return from retirement after discovering he didn't quite reach that 3,000th hit, "Mr. 3000" was partially shot at Miller Park and Marquette University High School. The film crew would often shoot scenes in between innings during actual Brewers games.

Chain Reaction

Release date: Aug. 1996

Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman play two green energy researchers framed for murder and treason by the government and forced to go on the lamb. The film was almost universally panned, but we can still be proud of our fine state for hosting a large portion of the movie's filming. Scenes were shot in the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Geneva Lake and at the Capitol in Madison.

Back to School

Release date: June 1986

This classic Rodney Dangerfield comedy follows Dangerfield's character, a wealthy but uneducated businessman, who goes to college to be around his son. Although it's called "Grand Lakes University" in the movie you will surely recognize the film's backdrop as the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Milwaukee, Minnesota

Release date: Dec. 2005

Con artists compete to snatch the winnings of a mentally troubled but gifted ice fisherman after his mother's murder featuring a pre-crazy Randy Quaid. Interior bar scenes shot at the Palomino and extensive footage of Kinnickinnic Ave. and other Bay View locations can be seen throughout. The movie isn't great, but there has to be a drinking game lurking in there somewhere.


Release date: Jan. 1977

Famed director Wernor Herzog's classic tale of three German immigrants struggle to assimilate into life in America was shot partially in Nekoosa, Madison and Plainfield. Many of the film's actors were untrained locals Herzog recruited to be in the film. Reportedly, Herzog had gone to Plainfield to meet documentary filmmaker Errol Morris to dig up Ed Gein's mother's grave, but Morris was a no show.

Major League

Release date: April 1989

Before he was fueled by tiger blood and Adonis DNA Charlie Sheen was winning in the role of Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, the bad boy pitcher of a misfit Cleveland Indians team owned by an exotic dancer who wants to move the team to Miami. The team's home games were filmed at the since razed Milwaukee County Stadium. Bob Uecker makes a memorable appearance as outlandish announcer Harry Doyle and shots of the scoreboard in the film clearly show a logo for local NBC affiliate WTMJ 4.

The Giant Spider Invasion

Release date: Oct. 1975

Giant spiders from another dimension terrorize the town of Merrill. The ultra-cheesy flick was mostly shown at drive-in theaters and saw a re-release through the Mystery Science Theater Collection which screened the movie on the cult TV show in 1997. A television control room scene from the film was shot during off hours at a TV station in Wausau.


Release date: Nov. 2001

Crews from Hollywood transformed a family's Cedarburg home while the film's stars Steve Martin and Helena Bonham Carter shot scenes there. The dark comedy was met with mixed reviews although a 2000 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that Bonham Carter's review of a shake from Hefner's Custard was decidedly more positive.