By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- The eroded landscape of an abandoned township gravel pit and Moab, Utah now have a unique similarity.
In October, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources was contacted by Detroit-based Freeage Production regarding creating a advertising video in a local location that could be a stand-in for the area near Moab. The western city in eastern Utah features massive red rock formations in Arches National Park. In addition, the remote southwestern area includes Canyonlands National Park with mesas and buttes carved by the Green and Colorado rivers.
The video was recorded for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the soon to be open ORV Park, Mines in Groveland Township and featured Jeeps in a rugged environment.
Jim Toscano and Danny Gianino, directors for Freeage had made frequent trips to Utah to film commercials for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). The township landscape provided just the right setting for the off-road outdoor look for the vehicles, said Toscano.
“Given the right shot the township gravel pit looked just like Utah,” said Toscano. “The shot was for Jeep and it’s often challenging, but when the clients saw the township landscape they loved it. We were on a strict deadline and had to keep cost for the production down. The Groveland Township area was perfect replication of Utah and it’s a lot closer.”
The short video clip was posted on the Jeep social media channels including Facebook and Youtube. It was not televised, added Toscano.
“The Oakland County Parks staff was great to work with,” he said. “We’d go back there and use the facility in the future. The area would be perfect for shooting anything outdoors such as motorcycles, or different types of power sports.”
The township ORV park, set to open in June 2020 will be located on the west side of Dixie Highway on reclaimed gravel pit property. Currently, deliberation between the Oakland County Parks and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the park management continues. In conjunction with the Oakland County Parks, the state property is intended to be used for a professionally designed off-road track state park.
The ORV park incorporates 235 acres on property once mined for gravel.
The MDNR reported in December 2014 a grant for $2.9 million was approved from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to purchase the property, however, only a portion of the grant was used so far. Currently, about 145 acres of the 235 will be included in the first phase of the ORV park. Some of the remaining acreage is still mined by area companies.
The concept will test the skills of drivers and abilities of machines at slow speeds, in a safe, legal environment on the south side of Mt. Holly where the noise will not be intrusive nor change the character of the community.
Jon Noyes, the principal planner for the Oakland County Parks and Recreation, said the Jeep commercial is just one of many attractions to the site.
“The future park site is not open to the public,” said Noyes. “But it is owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and they are willing to make it available for private use through the State Special Use Permit process with the understanding that such use will help the state and Oakland County Parks staff determine how the future park can be sustainably operated in the future. The filming of ORV commercials or motion picture action sequences has been suggested as a potential use that could be considered in the planning of the future park.”