Northeast Ohio’s arts scene continues to grow after struggles of the pandemic | Crain’s Cleveland Business

The Unit eXperience Project performs July 19 at Wade Oval Wednesday. | Ken Blaze








SOURCE: Crain’s Cleveland Business | Grant Segall
August 28, 2023

Cleveland Shakespeare has sold T-shirts saying “All the CLE’s a stage.”

“Theater can be anywhere, and theater is for everyone,” Artistic Director Dusten Welch told spectators last month of the troupe, which tours from Lorain to Mentor.

And CLE has a world of stages. Parks, plazas, porches, schools, libraries, hospitals, airports, cemeteries, shelters, prisons and repurposed factories all get in the act. City Ballet danced this month on a boardwalk over a marsh at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. Downtown Cleveland Inc. is recruiting buskers to work sidewalks in the footsteps of the late Maurice “Sax Man” Reedus Jr.

But the COVID-19 pandemic particularly hurt the arts and artists.



Business: Woven Into the Fiber with Lowell Perry Jr. | CODE M

Lowell Perry Jr., Chief Diversity Officer, VP Corporate & Community Engagement at the Greater Cleveland Film Commission














SOURCE: CODE M | David Christel
August Issue

Woven in to the Fiber

At a time when Black advances are being cancelled, diversity, equity, and inclusion become even more important. For Lowell Perry Jr., bringing DEI to life has become his life’s passion.
















Cleveland International Film Festival director is stepping down after 23 years | Ideastream

Cleveland International Film Festival | Marcie Goodman’s career with CIFF began in 1987. She held several leadership roles before being named the organization’s executive director in 2001.










SOURCE: Ideastream | Kabir Bhatia
August 3, 2023

For only the third time in its history, the Cleveland International Film Festival will soon be searching for an executive director. Marcie Goodman will step down in 2024 after 23 years at the helm. She informed the board Thursday that she’ll leave in June, calling her tenure “a labor of love.”



Tax Credits Awarded for 8 Ohio Film Productions | The Business Journal

Photo by Bruno Massao |







SOURCE: The Business Journal | Staff
August 3, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Development has awarded $36 million in tax credits to support eight Ohio film productions in six communities, including several in northeastern Ohio.

The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit Program provides a refundable tax credit of 30% on production cast and crew wages and other in-state spending for eligible productions, including feature-length films, documentaries, pre-Broadway productions, miniseries, video games and music videos.

“Film impacts our communities in more ways than just providing entertainment,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Department of Development. “Projects awarded … will help highlight Ohio’s unique communities, promote the arts, and bring creative jobs to our state.”

Awarded projects total more than $170 million in production expenses, $129 million in total eligible production expenses and are expected to create 370 full-time jobs. The department received 30 applications for the fiscal year 2023 July round, requesting more than $77 million in tax credits.

The latest Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit recipients are:

  • “Muenster, Ohio” (TV series), $327,143, Geauga County.
  • “Once Upon a Time in Sports” (TV series), $148,629, Cuyahoga County.
  • “Nex” (miniseries), $2,099,373, northeastern Ohio.
  • “A Train Near Madgeburg” (miniseries), $454,378, Columbus.
  • “Nightmare Transmissions Season II” (miniseries), $152,179, Cleveland.
  • “Ella McCay” (feature film), $14,097,770, Cleveland.
  • “Trap” (feature film), $9,522,006, Cleveland.
  • “Eenie Meanie” (feature film), $9,254,869, Cleveland.

Applications are reviewed and awarded in two rounds each year. $40 million is available annually, evenly divided between the two rounds plus any rollover amounts from the preceding period. Projects are awarded first to television series or miniseries, then to all others, based on the extent of positive economic impact in the state and the effect on developing a permanent workforce in the motion picture or theatrical production industries in the state.

The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit was created in 2009 to encourage and develop a film industry in Ohio. The application and additional program information can be found HERE.

Film Strikes Impact Cleveland Filmmakers | Cleveland Magazine

NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE. Cr. Brian Douglas/Netflix © 2021









SOURCE: Cleveland Magazine | Anthony Elder
July 27, 2023

Work from major studios largely came to a halt following the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

At a time when the Cleveland film scene could be celebrating — Ohio legislators recently approved a sizable increase to the motion picture tax credit — industry professionals like Production Coordinator Max Eberle find themselves in limbo.

In May, the Writers Guild of America instituted a writer’s strike affecting film and TV production for the first time since 2008 after film studio negotiations failed to reach a satisfactory resolution.

While that strike has continued for weeks, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television — the actors — began striking, too, after the organization’s contract with the American Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major studios like Netflix and NBC Universal, expired.

Reasons for the strikes range from a lack of viable pay to concerns over the use of artificial intelligence — fears mount that studios might avoid paying actors or extras for multiple appearances by technologically using their likeness for free after one paid shoot.

For members of the industry in Cleveland, from prop masters to coordinators like Eberle, major film projects now hang in the balance. Eberle, who’s worked on sets including the recent White Noise and Judas and the Black Messiah, recalls work slowing down following the writers’ strike. When SAG-AFTRA came into the conversation, he hoped that studios and actors might develop a good deal to prevent further delays.

“But, clearly SAG doesn’t think they got a good deal,” he says. “And there’s a breadth of responses to how people feel about what’s happened with the strike, but it has doubled down on that slowness and stoppage of work. That is rough for everybody.”

From the set of ‘The Fate of the Furious’ in Cleveland.

Exemplifying the issue, local Greater Cleveland Film Commission Production Coordinator Mike Wendt saw one production for a Hulu project known currently as Stickshift grind to a halt just weeks after headlines announced the casting call.

“We were able to make that announcement, and then the following day was when the strike fully went into place,” he remembers. “There were at least some people who were working at that production office for a couple of weeks before it was shut down.”

So, what does this all mean for Cleveland?

For the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, there is still plenty of work to do. The organization’s primary function revolves around courting major studios, convincing them to bring their stories to Ohio.

Between the applications, scouting locations and pitching the state’s $50 million tax credit incentives (soon to increase to $75 million in 2024), the GCFC can’t quite slow down.

“We have to pitch Ohio as a filming destination months, if not years, out before projects come,” GCFC President Bill Garvey explains. “And we’re never without work to do. Now is not necessarily a quiet time for us.”

With the added uncertainty of nationwide strikes, the commission has directed some of its focus toward resource and support. On Wednesday, July 19, the organization held a networking mixer, providing the opportunity for local industry members to connect and commiserate.

The GCFC also provides strike resources on its website, including links to emergency financial assistance and charity grants.

However, Garvey believes the Cleveland industry’s situation isn’t as dire as it could be. Local filmmakers are used to moving back and forth between smaller local gigs, commercial work and major films. While big studio work may be halted, regional media companies like TRG Multimedia, Transition Studios and Think Media Studios have room to work on non-AMPTP projects — work that doesn’t cross the Hollywood writer-actor picket line.

Furthermore, the GCFC president anticipates a surge in work once the strikes lift.

“I can’t predict when the strikes are going to be resolved, but I can be ready to go once they are,” Garvey says. “And just like coming out of COVID, the demand for content will be great. So it will this time around too.”

That doesn’t mean Ohio is free from the risk entirely. More films, bigger productions included, means more opportunities for local workers and less chance for brain drain — when a region’s creative talent steadily moves away in favor of busier areas like Los Angeles or New York City.

And for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a stagehand union with a chapter in Northeast Ohio, the current situation exemplifies a need for representation across the industry.

Cleveland’s own IATSE 209 President Dan Jarrell says they will not cross picket lines, empathizing with current strikers. The union has dealt with its own battles in the past, including a fight for lunch breaks on busy sets and establishing penalties for the major studios if workers can’t take them.

“In the last round of negotiations, there was a very large increase in the penalties that these corporations would have to pay to not stop for lunch and just keep shooting through the day — and these are 10-, 12-, 14-hour days,” he says. “Once the last negotiations ended, [we started] preparing for these next negotiations, so they’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. They really take into consideration that these are the worker bees of the industry and they have families. It’s just tough for them to survive in these situations, and I think something very serious is trying to keep the ball rolling and not go on strike.”

As it stands, the current strikes may continue for weeks, if not months. Garvey and the GCFC encourage local industry members to reach out if they’re in need of assistance finding resources and work.

And, Garvey says, Cleveland will be poised and ready when major studio work inevitably resumes.

“Ohio will hit the ground running and get back into it. Once the strikes are resolved, production returns. It’s that simple. The demand is always there.”

Ohio Legislature passes increase to Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit

On Friday, June 30, 2023, Ohio Legislators voted in favor of an increase to the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.

The increase raises the current annual $40 million cap to $50 million, with $5 million designated for theatrical production and $45 million designated for motion picture production for the 2023-2024 fiscal year (which commences July 1, 2023). For the 2024-2025 fiscal year, in addition to the $50 million incentive, Ohio adds a $25 million infrastructure tax incentive that will also be available to reallocate towards production incentive at the discretion of the Ohio Department of Economic Development.

‘Shooting Stars’: LeBron James Origin Story Becomes Peacock’s Most-Watched Original Film In First 4 Weeks | Deadline

Mookie Cook as LeBron James in “Shooting Stars” Oluwaseye Olusa/Universal Pictures








SOURCE: | Katie Campione
July 5, 2023

The original film Shooting Stars has now become Peacock’s most-watched original film in its first four weeks of availability.

Since its June 2 premiere, Shooting Stars has remained the #1 original film every weekend on Peacock. Specific viewership data for the film isn’t available.

Peacock currently streams nine original films, including Praise This, They/Them, Meet Cute and Sick.

Directed by Chris Robinson and based on the book by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger, Shooting Stars is the origin story of a basketball superhero, revealing how James and his childhood friends become the No. 1 high school team in the country, launching James’ breathtaking career as a four-time NBA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The cast of Shooting Stars includes Marquis “Mookie” Cook, Wood Harris, Caleb McLaughlin, Khalil Everage, Avery S. Willis, Jr., Sterling “Scoot” Henderson, Dermot Mulroney, Natalie Paul, Diane Howard, Algee Smith and Katlyn Nichol.

Academy Award-nominees Rachel Winter and Terence Winter produced the film along with Maverick Carter’s The SpringHill Company. Spencer Beighley and Jamal Henderson also produce.

Lights, camera, funding: Northeast Ohio indie filmmakers tap into the entrepreneurial spirit | Ideastream Public Media

A production crew films a scene for “Shooting Stars” in Shaker Heights, May 2022. Carrie Wise / Ideastream Public Media








SOURCE: Ideastream Public Media | Douglas J. Guth
June 12, 2023

Cleveland filmmaker Nick Muhlbach wants his stories to be relatable – the same slice-of-life humanity that Muhlbach’s cinematic hero Kevin Smith accomplished with his 1994 Gen X slacker comedy, “Clerks.”

Muhlbach’s contribution to this genre is “Calendar,” a Cleveland-shot and produced drama about a young woman’s struggles with family and relationships. Muhlbach hopes his movie can be a touchstone for audience members encountering similar issues.



Exclusive: The Shining Cast of Shooting Stars Discuss the LeBron James Biopic | Movieweb

Universal Pictures







SOURCE: MovieWeb | Philana Marie Boles
June 11, 2023

Set in the 1990s, Shooting Stars is a real-life basketball story about NBA basketball player and movie producer LeBron James and his friends growing up in Akron, Ohio. With touching, uplifting, and often humorous, themes about friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and sacrifice, it stars Marquis “Mookie” Cook (in his screen acting debut) as James, Caleb McLaughlin(Stranger Things) as ‘Lil Dru, Avery “AJ” Wills Jr. (Swagger) as Willie McGee, Khalil Everage(Cobra Kai) as Sian Cotton, and Sterling “Scoot” Henderson as Romeo Travis (also in his screen acting debut).



All the Movies and Films That Take Place in Cleveland | Cleveland Scene

SOURCE: Cleveland Scene | Scene Staff
June 9, 2023

Many movies and TV shows have used Cleveland — and the generous tax breaks it offers productions — as a place to film, especially in recent years. But many of those productions dress up Cleveland to make it look like New York City or other places. We covered all of the films that were shot here in a previous slideshow.

These films and shows, however, actually use Cleveland as their setting. It’s a surprising number that goes far beyond Major League and Hot in Cleveland.

Our list details not only what to watch, but where to find it today. If a free streaming option isn’t listed, that means the titles are available to rent or buy on iTunes, Amazon Prime and elsewhere.