URGENT: We Need Your Help Again – Ohio Senate Reinstates Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit

Today, the Ohio Senate has passed the Senate’s version of the budget which included
the reinstatement of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.

Thank you to everyone who has shown support by writing letters, sharing our social media posts, making phone calls, and especially to those who submitted and gave testimony.

WE NEED YOUR HELP AGAIN!

Your personal stories are invaluable to this fight. While the program was reinstated in the Senate,
now is when your letters and phone calls of support are needed most!

The GCFC is calling for our supporters of the tax credit to continue to reach out to their legislators and ask them to both protect and expand the incentive.


A few of the film industry professionals who came to Columbus to #SaveOhioFilmJobs

Letter Writing Information

We are extremely grateful to Senate President Larry Obhof, Senate Finance Committee Chair Matt Dolan, and the entire Senate, as well the many others who have shown continued support for the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.

Please encourage Governor DeWine, Speaker Householder, and your House Representative to keep the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit in the budget and increase the cap to $100 million per year.

Senate President Larry Obhof
Thank him for his support and encourage him to expand the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit to $100 million per year.

Governor Mike DeWine
Encourage him to keep the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and increase the cap to $100 million per year.

House Speaker Larry Householder & Your House Representative
Encourage them to keep the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and increase the cap to $100 million per year.

Watch ‘Faces of Ohio Film’ & Take Action to Help Us Save Ohio Film Jobs

These are the faces of the Ohio film and television industry.
 
Over 5,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs have been created since the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit was enacted in 2009. If the program is discontinued, most of those people will have to seek employment in other states.
 
According to a study by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), over 850 businesses have been used in the state. The program has had an economic impact of nearly $700 million. For every dollar that is spent on the program, $2.01 has come back to Ohio’s economy, according to a 2017 Cleveland State University study. The average salary in the media industry in Ohio is over $60,000 per year.
 
The state invested $7.5 million in Cleveland State University’s School of Film and Media Arts. There are currently 300 students and that number is expected to rise each year. These students have chosen to stay in Ohio and attend CSU. They could have chosen film programs in other states, but they wanted to stay in Ohio. They are expecting to graduate and get a job in their desired field. That won’t happen without the tax incentive. Please, let’s not create a situation where the state educates people in Ohio and then forces them to leave to pursue employment.

YOU CAN HELP US #SAVEOHIOFILMJOBS! 

Our lawmakers in Columbus have made it known that they don’t want to hear from Hollywood, they want to hear from YOU, the local film professional!  They want to hear how YOU will be affected if the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit is eliminated.

If you couldn’t make it to Columbus to testify, or be a part of our video, there are several other ways you can help!

Contact Your Lawmakers – Click HERE
Write an email, mail a letter, or even make phone calls to the decision makers!

Use our template letter and personalize it to each recipient, or create your own.

 

 


Share on Social Media

Use #SaveOhioFilmJobs to help us spread our message across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Share, retweet and regram these posts to help raise awareness.

Follow us on Facebook? Update your profile pic with our new frame! Click HERE and search #SaveOhioFilmJobs to add.

WATCH: Senate Finance Committee Hearing for Sub. H.B. 166

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on Thursday, May 23rd on Sub. H.B. 166 to hear testimony on state tax matters.

Film and TV industry professionals traveled from all across the state to show solidarity with us as we led the charge to testify to save the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit program.

Over 30 people gave testimony in front of hundreds of vested supporters in the room; we did not go unnoticed.

Click the video link below to watch the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit testimony, starting at 01:11:50.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the testimony of GCFC President Ivan Schwarz HERE.

Thank you to everyone who has written letters, shared our social media posts and photo frames, made phone calls, and especially to those who submitted and gave testimony.

We couldn’t fight to #SaveOhioFilmJobs without you!

Your personal stories of how Ohio’s film and TV industry affects yourself, your family, and your community are invaluable to this fight; we believe we were heard loud and clear yesterday.

Even though the hearing went very well, there is still a lot of work to do to save the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.


Keep Up the Fight

Our lawmakers in Columbus have made it known that they don’t want to hear from Hollywood, they want to hear from YOU, the local film professional!

They want to hear how YOU will be affected if the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit is eliminated.

If you couldn’t make it to Columbus on Thursday, there are several other ways you can help!

Contact Your Lawmakers – Click HERE
Write an email, mail a letter, or even make phone calls to the decision makers!

Use our template letter and personalize it to each recipient, or create your own.

 

 


Share on Social Media

Use #SaveOhioFilmJobs to help us spread our message across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Share, retweet and regram these posts to help raise awareness.

Follow us on Facebook? Update your profile pic with our new frame! Click HERE and search #SaveOhioFilmJobs to add.

CALL TO ACTION: Join us in Columbus to help Save Ohio Film Jobs

CALL TO ACTION:
Join us in Columbus on Thursday, May 23rd at 9:00 AM
to testify for the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit

WHO:  EVERYONE
WHAT:  HEARING ON SUB. SB 166
WHERE: FINANCE SENATE HEARING ROOM
WHEN:  MAY 23, 2019
TIME: 9:00 AM SHARP

The Senate Finance Committee will be holding a hearing on Sub. HB 166. Specifically, they will be hearing public testimonies on the tax and general government topics on Thursday, May 23rd at 9:00 AM. Tax matters will be heard first, so please plan accordingly if you intend to testify.

Testifying is not mandatory to attend; we want to show the strength of our numbers as much as we want to tell our lawmakers how this decision will affect our industry.

For those testifying, send a complete witness slip and your testimony no less than 24 hours in advance of the committee hearing time to Sarah Totedo (Chairman Dolan’s LA) at [email protected].

Click HERE to be taken to the interactive witness slip. If the “Submit” button doesn’t work, please save the completed document and email it as an attachment to Sarah Totedo.

Download Witness Slip
Download Meeting Agenda

For questions, please contact Development Coordinator Juli Johnson at 216-344-7424 or [email protected].


The Ohio Statehouse
1 Capitol Square
Columbus, OH 43215

Senate Side of the Statehouse
Finance Hearing Room

Parking Information
PLEASE NOTE: Parking at the Statehouse Underground Garage is extremely limited and a poriton is currently under construction. Please plan accordingly for other arrangements.


Other Ways To Help

Our lawmakers in Columbus have made it known that they don’t want to hear from Hollywood, they wants to hear from YOU, the local film professional!

They want to hear how YOU will be affected if the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit is eliminated.

If you can’t make it to Columbus on Thursday, there are several other ways you can help!

Contact Your Lawmakers – Click HERE
Write an email, mail a letter, or even make phone calls to the decision makers!

Use our template letter and personalize it to each recipient, or create your own.

 


Send us a Selfie or Headshot – Click HERE

According to the MPAA, the media production industry in Ohio is responsible for 35,000 jobs.

Help us show the faces behind Ohio’s film job numbers.

Send your self or headshot by Monday, May 20th at 5:00 PM to be included in our Faces of Ohio Film collage.


Share on Social Media

Use #SaveOhioFilmJobs to help us spread our message across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Share, retweet and regram these posts to help raise awareness.

Follow us on Facebook? Update your profile pic with our new frame! Click HERE and search #SaveOhioFilmJobs to add.

Cleveland Actor Featured at Tribeca Film Festival

Cleveland-native Abdul Seidu made his Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) debut in the film CRSHD. One of the breakout films of this year’s festival, The Hollywood Reporter calls CRSHD “Irrepressibly inventive and often impulsively unrestrained” while the New York Times listed CRSHD writer-director Emily Cohn, who studied at Oberlin College, in its 9 Filmmakers Who Should Be on Your Radar piece.

Best friends Izzy (Isabelle Barbier), Anuka (Deeksha Ketkar), and Fiona (Sadie Scott) are on a bubbly quest to lose their virginities before freshman year ends. They are provided with the perfect opportunity in the shape of a Crush Party organized by the coolest girl on campus—Elise (Isabelle Kenet). Their journey there is dotted by colorful and tongue-in-cheek reenactments of their social media, and sprinkled with anecdotes from campus life.

By the end of the night none of the girls have ended up quite where, or with the person, they thought they would. As a dejected Izzy stumbles out of the back seat of the campus officer’s car, she questions whether she shouldn’t have stayed in to study for her final instead. Everything and everyone looks different in the morning light which brings reconciliations and fresh ideas—maybe what Izzy was looking for was in front of her the whole time! It’s refreshing to see female sexuality presented in such a light, humorous way, and director Emily Cohn captures both the exciting, and the cringey moments all too realistically. The summer ahead looks bright.

—Jule Rozite

Check out photos of the film’s premiere at TFF below!

URGENT: Save Ohio Film Jobs

The Ohio House has proposed ending the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit
as a means to help fund a reduction in state income taxes.

The Greater Cleveland Film Commission is reaching out to our state officials to strongly urge them to reconsider eliminating the tax credit and we ask our supporters to do the same. We believe to eliminate the tax credit is a GRAVE ERROR that will do great damage to our economy and to so many Ohio taxpayers who either work in media production, run a business that works with the media production industry or dream of someday working in this industry right in their own backyard.

THE SUCCESS OF THE OHIO MOTION PICTURE TAX CREDIT IS REAL AND DEMONSTRABLE.  The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) recently reported that nearly 35,500 people are directly and indirectly (hotels, caterers, carpenters, dry cleaners, etc.) employed by the motion picture and television industries in Ohio, with total wages earned exceeding $1.2 billion. We ask our state leaders to keep the incentive in place so we can continue to grow this industry and make Ohio a global production destination so that we can bring even more jobs and economic impact to our great state.

Are you an actor, crew member or vendor?
Tell your lawmakers how YOU will be affected if the film industry leaves Ohio.
  • Copy and paste the letter below into your email, personalizing the greeting for each recipient:
  • Copy and paste the letter below onto your company or personal letterhead and mail to the appropriate recipient.
  • Call the Governor, Speaker of the Ohio House and President of the Ohio Senate to express your support using the letter below as a guide for your conversation.
    • Governor DeWine – 614-644-4357
    • Speaker Householder – 614-466-2500
    • Senator Obhof – 614-466-7505
  • Share these social media posts to Facebook and Twitter, and use #SaveOhioFilmJobs

For questions, please contact GCFC President & CEO Ivan Schwarz at 216-623-3910 or [email protected]


We strongly encourage that you personalize your emails, letters, and phone calls.
Use this letter as a template. 

Dear Speaker Householder:

I write to you today with a profound sense of urgency as a supporter of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission and Ohio’s growing media production industry. It has come to my attention that your office has proposed ending the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and consequently pulling the plug on a successful industry poised for even greater growth.

The success of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit is real and demonstrable. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) recently reported that nearly 35,500 people are directly and indirectly (hotels, caterers, carpenters, dry cleaners, etc.) employed by the motion picture and television industries in Ohio, with total wages earned exceeding $1.2 billion. 

This is a successful program that is putting Ohioans to work and putting hundreds of millions of dollars into their pockets right now. These aren’t just people working on movies and television shows, but also small business owners who have found a niche supporting this industry or whose businesses have found more paying customers from the growth of the industry in Ohio. Making media content is the manufacturing of the modern age, and it creates economic impact wherever it is fostered.

In 2008, Georgia passed a motion picture tax incentive that transformed their economy to the tune of $9.5 billion of economic impact in 2017 alone and made them arguably the media production capital of the world. New Mexico has seen similar success with their incentive. Netflix recently bought Albuquerque Studios and plans to invest over $1 billion in the state by driving production there.

I can personally attest to the incredible impact of this program. (Insert your story here.)

Growing this industry is a chance to grow something special in Ohio. This is a chance to stop our state from hemorrhaging bright, young people and keep them engaged – and employed – with an industry that’s not only hip and exciting but expanding by the day and filled with tremendous opportunity. The new film school at Cleveland State University has been designed from the bottom up to be one of the best in the nation and attract, train and retain the brightest young talent not only in Ohio but across the country. This is also a chance to bring skilled tradespeople back to Ohio to live, work, support local economies and pay state taxes.

I strongly urge you to reconsider eliminating the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit. To do so would be a grave error that would do great damage to our economy and to so many Ohio taxpayers who either work in media production, run a business that works with the media production industry or perhaps dream of someday working in this industry right in their own backyard.

Let us continue to grow this industry and make Ohio a global production destination so that we can bring even more jobs and economic impact to our great state.

Russo Brothers hoping to bring ‘Cherry’ to CLE

Before last weekend’s record-shattering box office opening with Avenger: Endgame, Cleveland-native Anthony Russo (of the directing duo the Russo Brothers), talked with  at The Plain Dealer about Endgame, and the next movie that he and brother Joe Russo want to bring to Cleveland, Cherry. ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE.  The Russos also talked out Cherry and their wishes to make it in Cleveland in a recent interview with Collider (see below).


Last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” earned more than $2 billion worldwide, which is more than the gross national product of Greenland and other countries and the 2017 budget of Cleveland.

The sequel, “Avengers: Endgame,” is expected to do even better with its opening this weekend. So why would directors Anthony and Joe Russo choose now to give up on the Marvel movie franchise?

Anthony Russo, born and raised in Cleveland, took time from putting the finishing touches on “Endgame,” to talk about the movie and their cinematic future.

“We’ve done four movies for Marvel in seven years,” he said. “It’s been the greatest time of our lives. We have loved the material, the comics, since our childhood. Making movies for them has been a dream. But ‘Endgame’ is the ending of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe that started with ‘Iron Man.’ It all comes together here, all of it. We have no plans to do another, but on the other hand we might like to work with Marvel again someday down the line.”

Next up for the brothers is a movie called “Cherry,” written by fellow Clevelander Nico Walker. They hope to shoot the movie in Cleveland.

Director Joe Russo and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) and Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Flacon) on the set of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

“We’re working with the Greater Cleveland Film Commission to see if we can get the tax incentives to do it in Cleveland,” Russo said. They filmed “Captain America: Winter Soldier” in the city. “ ’Cherry’ is a very intuitive portrait of a man who joins the Army and has a bad experience in Afghanistan. He returns home, where he suffers from PTSD, which leads to a heroin addiction. To feed his habit, he robs banks. We feel like it’s a very timely movie considering the opioid epidemic in our country.”

Anthony talked about “Cherry,” but clammed up when asked about the three-hour-plus “Endgame.”

“I can’t speak to it, specifically,” Russo said. “Joe and I want to make sure that people can have the full experience in the theater.”

“As I said, this is a closure of the Marvel universe, but with every closure there is a new beginning,” he said.

As anyone who’s seen “Infinity War” can attest, there is not much of the Marvel universe left after the end.

Spoiler alert for the benefit of the seven people who have not yet seen it; what follows are some facts about the previous film that will impact the new movie.

The evil, godlike villain Thanos took possession of the Infinity gems, which gave him control of everything: time, space, reality, the whole shebang.

Thanos believed that the universe would be a better place with fewer people, so at the end of the movie he snapped his fingers and half the living creatures on Earth dissolved.

Shown dissolving were Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Nick Fury, Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man), Loki, Heimdall, Gamora and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The survivors include Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and War Machine, who, with an assist from Captain Marvel, will take on Thanos.

Suspicious people have noted that the “survivors” were the big-paycheck actors whose contracts were ending, so maybe they are really the ones on the way out.

“No comment,” said Russo. “Really, I don’t want to spoil it.”

But …

The Russo Brothers and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) on the set of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

“Keep in mind that there was a rift between Cap and Iron Man in ‘Civil War’ that has never healed,” Russo said. “They did not reconcile in ‘Infinity War,’ and that prevented them from working as a team. Perhaps that is the reason Thanos won. I’m not saying anymore.”

Russo said the brothers have been busy.

“We used our success at Marvel to set up our own company, AGBO,” he said. “The origin of that name is a funny story. When we were students at Case [Western Reserve University], we started a sketch comedy troupe. We were trying to get publicity, and Joe had an idea.

“He wrote a scathing review of the show for the Case student newspaper,” he continued. “The reviewer despised the show. But we were able to talk about everything that was special about the show, disguised as a nasty review by someone named Gozie Agbo. Joe also used that name when he performed as an actor, so that’s how we ended up with AGBO.”

Since Marvel movies are not in the Russo Brothers’ foreseeable future, is there any chance that the brothers would bring their directing skills to DC and Warner Bros., whose superhero films have paled before Marvel’s?

“We consider all possibilities,” he said. “We would consider doing a DC superhero movie. After all, when I was a kid, my favorite character was Batman.”

Russo said it’s also too soon to talk about the repercussions of the purchase of Fox by Disney, meaning they can now bring the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and others into a joint universe.

“It’s all too new,” he said. “But my brother and are have always been huge fans of Wolverine.” Never say never, he said. “There are no plans for that, but who knows?”

Last April, after the release of “Infinity War,” the brothers hosted a showing of it along with both of their Captain America movies at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. He said something similar is planned for the opening of “Endgame.”

“We will return to Cleveland and host a showing; we’re still working out the details,” he said.


In order to bring the Russo Brothers back to the CLE to make their next movie, Cherry, we must expand the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.
See how you can help by contacting your lawmakers HERE.

Help Us Advocate for the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit

As we continue to advocate for the expansion of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, we still need your help in encouraging our State lawmakers to pass this important legislation.  The current legislation offers a tax incentive for movies, television, web series and gaming and we would like to add touring Broadway productions that: are pre-Broadway engagements; launching national tours or run for a minimum of 5 weeks

Currently, we are about to lose $250 million in production to other states if this does not pass. We have already lost over $1 billion dollars in business due to our small incentive. This activity would have a significant impact on our economy, and part of our mission is to positively impact our region’s economy.  SB37 will boost the entire State of Ohio.

Please continue to express your encouragement in one of the ways listed below:
  • Copy and paste the letter below into your email and send to the appropriate recipient:
  • Copy and paste the letter below onto your company or personal letterhead and mail to the appropriate recipient.
  • Call the Governor, Speaker of the Ohio House and President of the Ohio Senate to express your support using the letter below as a guide for your conversation.
    • Governor DeWine – 614-644-4357
    • Representative Householder – 614-466-2500
    • Senator Obhof – 614-466-7505
  • Share these social media posts to Facebook and Twitter, and encourage others to show their support.

For questions, please contact GCFC President & CEO Ivan Schwarz at 216-623-3910 or [email protected]


You can use this letter as a template:

 

The Honorable Mike DeWine
Governor of Ohio                                              
Riffle Center, 30thFloor                                                 
77 South High Street                                                                 
Columbus, Ohio 43215                                                  

Dear Governor DeWine:

I write to you as a supporter of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, the only nonprofit dedicated to bringing jobs and economic development to Northeast Ohio through the growth of a sustainable, year-round media production industry. It is vital that the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit be increased to an annual cap of $100 million so our state can take advantage of the hundreds of millions of dollars in production spending and tens of thousands of jobs that are quite literally ours for the taking.

When the credit renewed last summer, it took barely a month to hit the $40 million cap. Filmmakers want to film here and put Northeast Ohioans to work, but instead take their business to states like Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Georgia due to their more available, more robust incentive programs.

In 2008, Georgia passed a motion picture tax incentive that transformed their economy to the tune of $9.5 billion of economic impact in 2017 alone, and to the point where they are arguably the media-production capital of the world. New Mexico has seen similar success with their incentive. Netflix recently bought Albuquerque Studios and plans to invest over $1 billion in the state by driving production there.

The success Ohio has seen, even with the current limitations of the credit, is real and demonstrable. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) recently reported that nearly 35,500 people are directly and indirectly (hotels, caterers, carpenters, dry cleaners, etc.) employed by the motion picture and television industries in Ohio, with total wages earned exceeding $1.2 billion.

The full potential of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit has yet to be fully realized. Georgia has signaled to Hollywood that they are open for business and that no production will be turned away for lack of state funds or infrastructure. Raising Ohio’s incentive cap to $100 million will tell the world that we can sustain a year-round production industry, allowing stakeholders (who are ready and willing) to invest in production infrastructure like studios and soundstages that will ensure that we can compete for the biggest productions available (including television series) and employ an even greater number of Ohioans.

This is a successful program that is already putting billions into the pockets of Northeast Ohioans right now, and it could be doing so much more. I ask you to please raise the annual cap on the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit to $100 million, so that we can become the global production destination Hollywood already knows we can be.

Sincerely,

 

‘Native Son’ Premiere on HBO

Native Son, which filmed in Northeast Ohio last year,
will premiere on HBO on April 6th at 10:00 pm!

Native Son was chosen as one of the films which opened the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and will premiere on HBO on Saturday, April 6th at 10:00 pm.

Directed by Rashid Johnson, written by Suzan-Lori Parks, and produced by Matthew Perniciaro and Michael Sherman, Native Son is a modern retelling of Richard Wright’s classic novel. A young African-American man named Bigger Thomas takes a job working for a highly influential Chicago family, a decision that will change the course of his life forever. The cast is comprised of Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qually, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Bill Camp, and Sanaa Lathan.

When it filmed in Cleveland early last year, Native Son created over 100 jobs, with about 80 of those going to local crew!  This film also employed over 200 extras, and engaged many local businesses.

Watch the trailer below!

Northeast Ohio Film Industry Readies for Its Closeup

Crain’s Cleveland Business has been following the Cleveland Film industry closely, sitting down with GCFC President & CEO Ivan Schwarz at the beginning of the year to discuss increasing the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and what the proposed increase to $100 million will mean for Northeast Ohio. The recent conversation with Robbie Chernow of Good Deed Entertainment (GDE) takes an in depth look at how film companies are throwing off tradition and leaving New York and L.A. for Ohio.  ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE


Originally Published: March 23, 2019 04:00 AM
Mark Oprea
[email protected]

It was a few weeks before Christmas last year when 31-year-old Robbie Chernow arrived by car in Ashland, Ohio. He’d just taken a job as executive assistant at a new film production company called Good Deed Entertainment (GDE), which had, like Chernow, relocated from Los Angeles the month before. Pining for job security and a breather— he’d been working 12-hour days — Chernow accepted GDE’s offer eagerly.

Now, at the start of December, instead of Sunset Boulevard, he found himself driving amid falling snow and Amish buggies.

“It was like jumping into a Hallmark movie,” Chernow recalled. “I remember going up Main Street in December, thinking, ‘I am in the quaintest town in America.’ No joke.”

Part of a trend of coastal film companies fleeing the burnout and high turnover of New York and L.A., GDE shows the potential for a startup to thrive in Ohio’s burgeoning film ecosystem. After the grand opening of Cleveland State’s standalone film school last August, GDE and a number of other companies are positioning themselves to shun tradition and do the previously unthinkable: attract and keep industry talent and productions in Ohio rather than Hollywood.

To Chernow’s mind, the possibility of a gigantic tax benefit was just part of the reason to say goodbye to West Coast life.

He’d been shopping around a film he’d written, an Adam McKay-style comedy based on his experience “attending a bachelor’s party in Chicago alone,” and had even met with the producer himself. Two years spent shuttling between L.A. and New York for meetings on the project, while also working at NBC Universal — where he read an endless parade of cookie-cutter scripts — had led Chernow to grow cynical and experience a “loss of a lot of heart and soul.”

“But when I met with [GDE], I bought into their vision very much,” he said. “To me, their vision was a really exciting proposition. I mean, one that had me pack up my stuff and drive across the country.”

A Georgia state of mind

As far as other states drawing West Coast film companies, there may be no better model these days than Atlanta. After the state uncapped its film tax credit program in 2017, there was a mad rush of production companies and actors into the city, leading to an economic impact of $9.5 billion. FilmLA, the nonprofit film office for the city and county of Los Angeles, dubbed Atlanta the No. 1 Filming Location in the World.

That model is what film heads in Cleveland and around Ohio point to as proof of this region’s potential if the current tax credit’s $40 million cap is raised to $100 million. Film commission president Ivan Schwarz asserted that the credit is not just a perk for out-of-staters, but an absolute necessity to draw and keep new startups working in Ohio.

“Having the $100 million incentive is the difference between having an industry and not having an industry,” said Schwarz, the writer of the original tax incentive in 2009. “I swear, we have over $250 million worth of production wanting to shoot here, and we’re going to lose it mostly because our incentive is capped.”

A proposition for the $60 million boost as part of Senate Bill 37, Schwarz said, could not only encourage more events like “Captain America” shooting on Public Square— a production that spent $35 million alone on wages, creating 3,875 temporary jobs — but create a stronger environment for more startups like GDE, film distributor Gravitas Ventures and the nascent Dakar Studios, looking to fund projects here that use local talent.

Frederic Lahey, the director of Cleveland State University’s new film school, said he’s right alongside Schwarz as far as convincing state politicians goes. Even if the $100 million incentive comes through, however, he noted that production companies, whether temporary or stationary, are still going to be on the hunt for grips, assistants, lighting techs and postproduction talent at the ready. With applications to his program up 70% since last March, Lahey said his 290 students could fill production roles easily. He even wants to have GDE staff guest-teach a class someday.

“Meanwhile, we’ll be providing the farm team,” he said.

Although Atlanta’s Hollywood love affair seems solid, the outcome in Ohio isn’t guaranteed.

Critics of SB 37, such as Micah Derry, director of Americans For Prosperity — Ohio, claim that a $60 million increase to the incentive would actually have a negative impact on Ohio taxpayers. In testimony before the Ohio Senate in early March, Derry cited as examples Maryland and Michigan, states that made similar tax increases in the past few years that didn’t prove glowingly beneficial.

In Michigan, Derry noted, the “average job associated with film tax credits was an average of 23 days,” adding that such “subsidies” should be done away with — “fade to black on film tax credits” — to create “a stronger economic environment for all businesses.”

“I want 15 GDEs coming here,” he said. “I’m not talking minimum-wage jobs for a couple of months. I mean, I want an industry so big that a huge Marvel movie could take over the studio and make their move here.”

Into the spotlight

After three months in operation on Main Street, Good Deed is beginning to ease into its new digs.

Success has come in flashes. Andrew Myers, who moved with his wife and two kids from L.A. to become GDE’s creative executive, said GDE is in the process of taking on a “grounded” sci-fi script that will be shot nearby. Nikki Stier Justice, GDE’s chief operating officer since 2014, is prepping promotion of five GDE films set to show at the Cleveland International Film Festival.

And Chernow, just three months in, is set to shed his role of executive assistant and get more involved in all aspects of production and distribution.

“It’s one thing that I told Scott (Donley),” he said, naming GDE’s founder. “That I’m down to work here for life.”

In fact, Justice is deep-down enamored of the company’s new headquarters, which will soon feature a 25-seat screening room and a fully operational soundstage on the building’s third floor. They’ve even taken in four interns (one from CSU’s film program) to help with script screening.

A horror film set in Medina? Maybe a Christmas rom-com right on Main Street? It’s all possible in Ohio.

“The plan was always to have productions going in Ashland and the surrounding areas,” she said. “We wanted to create a new model, have multiple projects going per year. And building that studio infrastructure around the community here.”

Justice added, “And we wouldn’t even have to have the film set in Ohio. For us, there’s something here that just embodies small-town America. And what’s not to love about that?”


Read more from the Crain’s Cleveland Business “Building A Film Industry” Series
CIFF spreads the cinematic wealth
Cleveland’s Gravitas goes global
Dakar Studios’ coming attraction
Q&A: Robert Banks