Behind The Scenes: Netflix Spends $100+ Million Filming “White Noise” in Cleveland

Courtesy of Netflix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


SOURCE: Cleveland Magazine | Dillon Stewart
November 23, 2022

The new movie starring Adam Driver filmed for more than six months, tapped into local crews and used Wellington, Akron and downtown Cleveland to create the universe of Don DeLillo’s iconic novel. By Dillon Stewart

Late last July, actors Greta Gerwig and Adam Driver mill around outside Addie’s Antiques in Wellington, 45 minutes southwest of Cleveland. Chatting off camera, Gerwig sports a frizzy mop of hairsprayed curls, and Driver hides a paunch under a plaid dress shirt. Most businesses neighboring Addie’s, an actual functioning antique shop, have been transformed into brightly colored restaurants, nightclubs and other fictional storefronts. Sitting in lawn chairs next to paparazzi, locals gawk at the spectacle as if watching an Independence Day parade, and some even get in on the action as extras on this Hollywood film set.

The meta ‘80s fever dream is the brainchild of director Noah Baumbach for his upcoming film, White Noise. But Hollywood descending upon Northeast Ohio is becoming a common scene. Fast and the Furious and Captain America: Winter Soldier shot scenes in and around Downtown Cleveland, and White Boy Rick and Cherry, directed by Cleveland natives John and Joe Russo, filmed almost entirely in the area. Heck, this is even the second film to hit Wellington, a town of just more than 4,000, which hosted Liam Neeson’s film The Minuteman in 2019.

Courtesy of Netflix

But White Noise is different. Author Don DeLillo’s timely, anxiety-riddled ‘80s novel was deemed by some in the industry as “unadaptable” after a few false starts in the early 2000s. The book’s overwhelming feeling of existential dread, strong internal dialogue and unseen threat probably abetted that narrative. But doing it right, according to Baumbach, was enough to give most money men a different kind of dread.

Local crew members describe a spare-no-expense approach that included shutting down a stretch of highway for six weeks, transforming an abandoned Walmart into a film stage, building a faux motel under the Inner Belt Bridge in the Flats, digging a river in rural Ohio and spinning dozens of rolls of real, tactile film.

And that’s exactly what Netflix did. Bill Garvey, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, estimates White Noisespent more than $100 million in Northeast Ohio — the most of any movie to date. Netflix’s original budget was about $82 million, but an extended shoot and an artist-first philosophy drove that up to a rumored $140 million, though official audits won’t come out until next year.

“We have such a diversity of looks here,” says Garvey. “That and the logistical ease of working here is what gets them here. But it is limited by the $40 million [tax incentive] cap we have.”

Production designer Jess Gonchor, who won an Academy Award for True Grit in 2010, is a master of building universes. This project called for a true-to-life Midwestern setting, one with spacious supermarkets, a boy scout camp, a college campus and housing stock that looked like Anywhere, USA. Only one place came to mind: Northeast Ohio.

“I don’t think we could have done this anywhere else in the country,” says Gonchor. “We took major advantages of the locations and kindness of the people. There are not a lot of places that are interested in letting you do that kind of stuff.”

Tasked with setting the scene for DeLillo’s novel, which follows a professor and his family as they react to an airborne toxic event in a “Middle America” college town, Gonchor first explored upstate New York, near Buffalo. Around the time that fell through, Gonchor found an interview where DeLillo mentioned being inspired by a supermarket in Chagrin Falls.

Gonchor never found that supermarket, but two hours west of Buffalo, he did find the perfect location to recreate the book’s fictional town of Blacksmith. In the classrooms of the University of Akron, he saw Jack Gladney’s lecture hall. Wellington and Oberlin perfectly played the cozy town surrounding “College-on-the-Hill.” Peninsula’s Camp Manitoc had a dusty sheen of reality perfect for the boy scout camp to which the Gladney family would eventually escape.

Still, Gonchor admits the deciding factor typically comes down to budget and logistical ease.

“I always try to do, first and foremost, what’s right for the movie,” he says. “But, fortunately and unfortunately, a lot of movies these days are driven by tax incentives.”

The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit incentives were created in 2009 to encourage studios to make movies, shows, video games, theatrical productions and more in the state. For those spending more than $300,000, Ohio offers a refundable tax credit of 30% on production cast and crew wages and other in-state spending.

But Ohio caps these incentives at a combined $40 million per year. That means if (the fictional) LeBron James on Ice eats up $20 million in tax credits, the studio behind The Wild Adventures of Cleveland Magazine Editor Dillon Stewart (in the very early stages of pre-production) only has the remaining $20 million with which to play.

Courtesy of Netflix

Meanwhile, states such as New Mexico and Louisiana have used a $100 million cap to become leaders in the film industry, and Georgia pulled in $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2022 by not having any cap at all.

Opponents call these credits a bad deal for taxpayers. They say these filmmakers would work here anyway. But Garvey points to ripples like the 36,000 nights spent in local hotels by White Noise crewmembers. The NFL Draft, meanwhile, saw an 85% hotel occupancy rate among 26 hotels for one weekend — a number closer to 10,000 nights. A study by consulting firm Olsberg SPI found, from 2010-2020, a $3.09 return for every dollar in tax credits and that 134 projects created 6,192 full-time equivalent jobs and $1.1 billion in total gross economic output. Meanwhile, more than $200 million was turned away due to the tax incentive cap, Garvey says.

“The opportunities have grown exponentially over the past few years, but it’s not at its peak,” says Evan Prunty, co-founder of Black Valve Media who served as a video playback operator on White Noise. Throughout DeLillo’s novel, television clips puncture real life with snippets of consumer culture, creating a uniquely modern state of anxiety. Prunty worked to recreate that motif with the television sets and other circa-1980s props you see throughout the film.

As a member of the Local 209 union, which represents entertainment industry members in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, Prunty is on a list of local crewmembers that studios can tap when making films. He pays $1,500 in dues, which he says “pays off tenfold.”

Studios actually prefer to use local talent, Gonchor says. It’s cheaper. But it’s not always possible.

“When Cherry and Judas and the Black Messiah filmed in Cleveland at the same time, there was nobody left to hire in the area,” Prunty says. “It’s not like there are people sitting around. If there’s a movie, there’s work for you. I guarantee it.”

The Russo Brothers Assemble: Inside AGBO, Their $1 Billion Studio, and When They Might Return to Marvel

ART STREIBER FOR VARIETY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


SOURCE: Variety | Adam B. Vary
November 2, 2022

Ever since Joe and Anthony Russo released “Avengers: Endgame,” in 2019, the sibling directors have been asked over and over if they would ever work again with Marvel Studios. Each time, they’ve tried to politely deflect — “We’re always talking; we’d need to see what would work” — even though, as Joe put it to Variety in early October, they’ve known the truth for years. “We won’t be ready to do anything with Marvel until the end of the decade,” he says.

Instead, the Russos have dedicated themselves to assembling their own creative cosmos with AGBO, the independent, artist-friendly studio they launched in 2017 with producing partner Mike Larocca. Their “Endgame”-sized ambition is no less than to help lead the industry into the future of entertainment, which is why the Russos have been selected as Variety’s Showmen of the Year.

 

 

Michael Myers Actor From ‘Halloween Ends’ Reflects On Time Growing Up in Northeast Ohio


SOURCE: WKYC 3 Studios | Ryan Haidet
October 26, 2022

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — It’s true. The boogeyman has ties to Northeast Ohio.

James Jude Courtney, the actor who has portrayed horror villain Michael Myers in the three latest Halloween movies alongside Jamie Lee Curtis, was born and raised in our community.

“I was born in Garfield Heights at Marymount Hospital and raised in Bedford,” he tells 3News in an exclusive interview. “I think I had just turned 15 when we moved to South Carolina. I went to St. Mary’s grade school and Holy Name High School.”

 

Comedy writer Dan O’Shannon to headline Greater Cleveland Film Commission’s ‘Behind the Camera’ event

Dan O’Shannon, right, a Northeast Ohio native who has worked on classic sitcoms, is the scheduled guest speaker for Greater Cleveland Film Commission’s upcoming “Behind the Camera” event at Pickwick & Frolic. He is shown at an event in Cleveland last year with Mike Miller of Music Box Supper Club.


SOURCE: Cleveland.com | Marc Bona, Cleveland.com
October 19, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio – If you have ever watched a sitcom and wondered what goes on behind the scenes, then the Greater Cleveland Film Commission has an event for you.

Veteran television writer Dan O’Shannon, who grew up in Painesville, has a laundry list of credits of acclaimed shows: “Modern Family,” “Frasier,” “Cheers” and others. He’ll be the guest speaker at the film commission’s annual “Behind the Camera” event Friday, Oct. 21. It’s at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre at Pickwick & Frolic.

O’Shannon will serve as featured guest at the moderated behind-the-scenes conversation that offers a chance for folks to glean an insight into the entertainment business while supporting the mission of the film commission.

O’Shannon’s resume includes being a showrunner and executive producer on a multitude of television shows. He also has written two books, “The Adventures of Mrs. Jesus” and “What Are You Laughing At? A Comprehensive Guide to the Comedic Event.”His behind-the-scenes Q-and-A presentation will cross into a range of topics.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to connect with them a little bit by talking about growing up in Ohio and what it took to get into the television industry back then,” he said. “It was a very different time. You couldn’t just Google ‘How to be a TV writer.’ ”

Expect O’Shannon – who gave an engaging talk to scores of people a year ago at the Music Box Supper Club – to paint a picture of what goes on behind the scenes at a situation comedy, from the genesis of jokes and famous bits people might remember to mixing in personal stories.

“It can go in any direction,” said O’Shannon, who has won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. “It depends on the audience.” That means if the audience wants to hear about the technical aspects of script writing or learn how a show gets produced, O’Shannon will deliver.

Proceeds will support the non-profit film commission’s mission to attract production spending to the region – a critical, and competitive, economic component of moviemaking these days.

VIP cocktail reception is 6 to 7 p.m. The program begins at 7 p.m. WKYC anchor Christi Paul will moderate.

• “Cast Member, $100. First-come, first-served general seating with complimentary beer and wine.
• “Staff Writer,” $250. The limited VIP tickets offer a reception with O’Shannon, reserved seats, valet, hearty hors d’oeuvres and open bar.

Pickwick & Frolic is at 2035 E. 4th St., Cleveland.

Cleveland Native Dan O’Shannon Speaking At Film Commission Fundraiser


SOURCE: News Radio WTAM 1100 | Tom Moore
October 17, 2022

(Cleveland) – The Greater Cleveland Film Commission will host award-winning screenwriter and producer Dan O’Shannon for the return of its signature Behind the Camera fundraiser event Friday, October 21st, 2022 at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre at Pickwick & Frolic.

Behind the Camera with Dan O’Shannon will be moderated by former CNN Reporter and current WKYC-News Anchor Christi Paul. This look behind-the-scenes will include a wide variety of topics ranging from Dan’s experiences in the entertainment business, how growing up in Northeast Ohio impacted his career, and special insight into the creative process behind some of the greatest TV sitcoms of all time.

The same morning, GCFC will host a student Q&A at Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus with Dan targeted towards local high school and college students.

Proceeds from these events fund the Greater Cleveland Film Commission’s mission to attract production spending to the region, advocate to expand the film industry in Ohio, and educate the local workforce with the skills for a career in the motion picture industry in NE Ohio.

This link will take you to where you can find out more and purchase tickets.

Copyright 2022, iHeartMedia

Listen to WTAM for news at the top and bottom of the hour

Greater Cleveland Film Commission to host O’Shannon Oct. 21

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash


SOURCE: Cleveland Jewish News
October 14, 2022

The Greater Cleveland Film Commission will host award-winning screenwriter and producer Dan O’Shannon for its “Behind the Camera” fundraiser event at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre at Pickwick & Frolic at 2035 E. 4th St. in Cleveland.

The event will be a moderated conversation that will cover topics from O’Shannon’s experiences in the entertainment business, his childhood in Northeast Ohio, and insight into some of the shows he has worked on. O’Shannon is known for his work on “Cheers,” “Fraiser” and “Modern Family,” among others.

Proceeds from the event will fund the Greater Cleveland Film Commission’s mission to attract production spending to the region, advocate for expanding the film industry in Ohio and educate the local workforce for the jobs created.

A VIP cocktail reception will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Tickets start at $100 at bit.ly/3CMynUG.

LMGI Compass Magazine “In My City: Cleveland, Q&A with William Garvey)

 

SOURCE: LMGI COMPASS | Stevie Nelson
Fall 2022 Issue

2021 LMGI Award winner William Garvey (Judas and the Black Messiah) gives Stevie Nelson a tour of his Ohio hometown of Cleveland – home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a growing destination for film production.

 

 

 

Marvel’s ‘Blade’ is coming to Cleveland – but who is he?

Wesley Snipes starred in three films as Blade from 1998-2004. The Marvel character, created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan, is slated to return to the silver screen next year — now played by Mahershala Ali. [Marvel Enterprises/New Line Cinema]


SOURCE: IDEASTREAM PUBLIC MEDIA | Kabir Bhatia
October 7, 2022

The next superhero movie to shoot in Cleveland was supposed to start production in November – until director Bassam Tariq dropped out in September. Many production crewmembers pivoted to other projects, but “Blade” is still projected to come here early next year.

It’s a reboot of the Wesley Snipes “Blade” films released from 1998-2004. The character is a dhampir, meaning he’s part vampire. And yet he’s working to rid the world of vampires – a classic superhero conflict.

“He inherited characteristics of vampires, but none of the weaknesses,” said comic book expert Michael Sangiacomo. “He can walk in the day. He has super strength healing ability, like Wolverine. He can’t transform into a bat or anything like that, but he’s got super agility. He’s a fascinating character.”

 

 

Northeast Ohio’s Filmmaking Future Looks Bright, But More Can Be Done

Photo by: Anthony Garcia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


SOURCE: WEWS NEWS 5 CLEVELAND | Joe Pagonakis
September 25, 2022

CLEVELAND — The Greater Cleveland Film Commission reports over the past 13 years filmmakers producing movies in Northeast Ohio have generated more $1.2 billion in economic output, but some local film leaders say more can be done.

Bill Garvey, Greater Cleveland Film Commission President, told News 5 that movies being made locally have generated some 6,000 jobs since 2009, and said Ohio brought in $160 million in film production revenue last year alone.

But Garvey said Ohio’s $40 million dollar tax incentive cap has caused the Buckeye State to lose million in film production dollars to other cities and states who have a bigger tax incentive cap or no cap at all.

“We have a 40 million dollar cap that has attracted a lot business, but once that cap is used up also pushes away some business,” Garvey said. “The last year for instance over $160-million dollars on production has been spent here in Ohio, but $224.5 million in production that’s applied to shoot here has been turned away. Those jobs go to places like Pittsburgh, Boston and Atlanta.”

Johnny Wu is a Cleveland filmmaker, producing 13 feature length films locally over the past 22 years. Wu told News 5 northeast Ohio has the talent and resources to continue growth in major motion pictures being shot greater Cleveland. But Wu believes greater Cleveland is lacking one major component in attracting even more filmmaking jobs and revenue.

“It’s a wonderful place,” Wu said. ”We got great weather, we have talented performers and actors, we have great crew here. I think the only thing we are missing here in Cleveland is a larger studio environment, where we can have a big warehouse for production in house here.”

Meanwhile, Marvel Studios will shoot the Cleveland portion of its Blade superhero movie from Nov. 14 through Nov. 22. Producer of the movie announced an open casting call for auditions, with costume fittings to start in mid-October.

Garvey believes northeast Ohio is poised for even more filmmaking revenue and jobs in the coming years.

“So these jobs are real, they are high paying, they are jobs with pensions and healthcare paid for by the industry,” Garvey said. “And it’s an industry that’s growing, there are so many industries that are not these days. This is one that can come and compliment existing infrastructure, existing business.”

 

Noah Baumbach on Crafting His Venice Opener ‘White Noise’ and Creating a Community While Shooting in Ohio – Venice

Adam Driver, director Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig.
Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Noah Baumbach passed through the Lido Wednesday afternoon where he broke down the origins of his Venice Film Festival opener White Noise, starring Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, and Don Cheadle.

Written for the screen and produced by Baumbach, David Heyman, and Uri Singer, the film is based on the cult book by Don DeLillo, which Baumbach said he rediscovered during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I both couldn’t believe how relevant it felt and how it felt so much about the moment,” Baumbach said. “But I was also struck by how I feel like whatever moment was going on it would feel relevant to that. And at the same time, I started not only taking on DeLillo’s language but finding my own voice within his language. It was something that felt very familiar.”

In the Netflix movie, Adam Driver plays Jack Gladney, an ostentatious “Hitler Studies” professor and father-of-four whose comfortable suburban college town life and marriage to the secretive Babette (Gerwig) are upended after a horrifying nearby accident creates an airborne toxic event of frightening and unknowable proportions. Also starring are Jodie Turner-Smith, Raffey Cassidy, Sam Nivola, May Nivola, André L. Benjamin, and Lars Edinger.

Production on the film took place in Ohio, which Baumbach said provided a much-needed respite from his native New York City, which has been a constant backdrop in his past work.

“In New York, everyone is so bored and jaded and annoyed that you’re on their street. And you’re running into the TV show Blue Bloods on the next corner” he joked. “The novel takes place in a fictional college and a fictional town in a fictional city, which created options. But I had a sense. It felt like somewhere in the mid-west.”

Speaking of Ohio, he added: “It’s a very distinct place and it was a great place to shoot because they’re not as used to having movies there so many of the people in the background, in the college, those are real kids and they’re parents that live there. They aren’t actors. And the people at the barracks, many of them aren’t actors they’re just people who wanted to be in the movie. It was the best experience I’ve had with bringing a community into a movie.”

DeLillo’s novel is best known for its large-scale, genre-bending narrative and pop-philosophical ideas on unbounded consumerism and ecological catastrophe. Rumors online and on the ground in Venice have suggested that the budget for Baumbach’s adaptation clocked in north of $100 million. Discussing the scale and style of the film, Baumbach said he spent a lot of time during production thinking about the theatrical film language of the 1980s.

“People have already said to me I haven’t seen you do this before but the material hasn’t called for it. And this material really did,” he said. “The story is a story of American culture in a sense. And being surrounded by American culture. I was a child in the 80s. And it was a very informative time for me. The movies I saw were part of what informed me and led me to do what I do, so I also saw it as a story of American cinema because of the genre elements and the tonal shifts that were available to me.”
The film also marks Greta Gerwig’s long-awaited return to acting since she picked up the camera for her much-lauded directorial efforts Lady Bird and Little Women. Gerwig, who is in a relationship and shares a child with Baumbach, said she began re-reading the book at the same time as the director and was inspired by the novel’s theatricality.

“There was something about it that made you want to share it with people because it seemed to be both emotional and intellectually exciting,” she said. “We were lucky to have a long stretch of rehearsal before shooting and that’s when the characters became real people. Because in the world of the novel they felt more abstracted. That’s when they felt more like characters in a Baumbach movie.”

White Noise also marks the first time a Netflix movie has opened the Venice Film Festival as well as Baumbach’s return to the Lido after he premiered Marriage Story at the festival in 2019.

Netflix will give White Noise a theatrical release starting November 25 before it streams on December 30.

Venice runs from August 31-September 10.