Have you ever been sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and thought, “Wait a minute, I’ve walked on that street!” On the TV, a high-speed chase scene winds through a ‘Los Angeles’ neighborhood that you recognize. Chances are you’ve seen movies that were shot in Cleveland or Akron and didn’t even realize it. More and more production companies are filming their movies in cities that offer incentives and amenities to keep their films on budget. And, an authentic Midwestern town is often a better backdrop than a Hollywood back lot.
Most likely, you know that movies are sometimes filmed in Northeast Ohio. You might have even driven past a movie set on your morning commute. But, are you familiar with the work and purpose of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission?
Executive Arrangements’ staff met with CEO & President Ivan Schwarz and Director of Development Erin Gisel to learn more about the GCFC and the positive impact the film industry has on our community. The GCFC is about so much more than visiting movie stars!
Ivan and his staff are passionate about film but even more passionate about how the film industry boosts the economy and morale of Cleveland. Originally from LA, Ivan has the right connections and skills to grow the film industry in Northeast Ohio. He stays in touch with every aspect of the film industry. He has been in Cleveland for 12 years and is one of Cleveland’s ultimate advocates.
The GCFC’s slogan is: “Cleveland. Who knew?” Those who live in Cleveland or Akron know…Cleveland is cool. But, not everyone has visited our region. So many are not aware of all the opportunities here. Northeast Ohio is a world-class place to live that offers an amazing quality of life and a great place to film.
The GCFC seeks to spread the word in the film industry and create jobs for the plethora of people who would benefit from steady work in film in our area, especially young people. These jobs are for a huge range of industries from electricians to accountants to caterers. Every time that something is filmed in Northeast Ohio, local businesses prosper. Retail shops, hotels, contractors, artisans, restaurants, real estate, car services, and more all see increases in revenue during production.
When films are made in Cleveland or Akron, our community gains a lot. “When the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit passed, it was estimated that it would generate an increase in local spending by $100 million and create 500 full-time equivalent jobs. A recent study conducted by Cleveland State University estimates that since 2009, the increase in media sector activity has resulted in: $572 million in economic impact to the state, of which $463 million was in Northeast Ohio [and the] creation of 4,162 direct jobs in Ohio, with 3,399 of the total in Northeast Ohio.”
Over 300 productions have been filmed in Ohio since 2007. Anything and everything can be filmed in our region…commercials, documentaries, independent films, studio feature films, music videos, public service announcements, photos shoots, television shows, video games, and web series. Some notables productions have been filmed here in Cleveland: Band of Brothers, The Fate of the Furious, The Bronze, Draft Day, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bad Grandpa, The Kings of Summer, Fun Size, Avengers, Unstoppable, The Soloist, Spiderman 3, American Splendor, and many more.
Cleveland is know for “Eds, Meds and Arts.” The film industry should be a growing component of our arts industry. We have a diverse geography and numerous architectural aesthetics available. We have immensely talented people who can work in the industry. We also have Ohio’s first standalone film school at Cleveland State University. The School of Film and Media Arts helps students hone their skills, create original content and establish industry connections. Because of Cleveland’s growing film industry, the students benefit from a hands-on approach to writing, directing, producing, acting, cinematography, post production, and interactive media studies. The GCFC also provides educational resources and practical training programs.
But, it takes more than the attributes listed above to attract productions. Two words are necessary: TAX INCENTIVES.
Ivan and his team know that the film industry should be an integral part of Northeast Ohio’s economy. They are tirelessly working through advocacy to expand our state’s ability to secure a constant stream of productions by increasing available tax incentives. This fiscal year, there were $40 million in tax credits available to those filming in Ohio. Within 12 days of the start of the fiscal year, those credits were all distributed! That is how many productions want to film in Ohio!
Ivan and his team hope to grow the available tax credits as soon as possible in order to keep up with the demand for filming in our region. The $40 million cap limits Ivan and the GCFC’s ability to secure a “robust, year-round film industry that creates good jobs in Northeast Ohio.” Ivan and his team “want to push through legislation this year to increase the motion picture tax credit, arguing that every dollar spent by the state returns two dollars in economic activity, and that there is demand from producers to shoot in Cleveland.”
We not only need available tax incentives to grow the film industry in our region, we also need infrastructure. The talent is here. The talent just needs a place to work. Northeast Ohio would benefit from the construction of 10 to 15 sound stages, available production vehicles, support services, and housing for those who work in the industry. Ivan would love to see a 25-acre campus in our region to provide the right infrastructure.
Through advocacy for greater tax incentives and the construction of infrastructure, the GCFC is leading efforts to attract larger productions so that the industry in Northeast Ohio will generate thousands more jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars more in economic impact.
If you would like to become involved with the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, click here to learn how you can help.