LeBron movie ‘Shooting Stars’ filming around Northeast Ohio with help of $7.6M incentive

A production crew films a scene for “Shooting Stars” in Shaker Heights on Monday, May 2. [Carrie Wise / Ideastream Public Media]






SOURCE: Ideastream | Carrie Wise
May 4, 2022

Just before sunset Monday evening, crew members filmed a movie scene from the front steps of a Shaker Heights home.

This was one of several shoots in the Shaker area this week for the LeBron James’ biopic “Shooting Stars.” Filming in Akron, Cleveland and other locations around the region will continue until the beginning of June, according to Bill Garvey, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission.

“It’s a good, high quality, positive story,” Garvey said. “Stories like that, it’s important to tell them, especially local stories and stories as impressive and as inspiring as LeBron’s story.”

Garvey’s organization helps film projects like this one set up production in Ohio. The commission also lobbies for government support to bring filming to the region. The state approved $7.6 million for this production as part of Ohio’s Motion Picture Tax Credit program, which awards up to $40 million annually.

Garvey is pushing for lawmakers to remove the cap on the incentives in order to lure more business to the state.

“I think the demand for content is greater than ever, and because of that, there’s more production dollars flying around searching for a landing spot,” he said.

Other states are hoping to attract more production business too. For instance, Pennsylvania’s film industry is lobbying lawmakers to allocate $125 million for tax credits. In Michigan, advocates seek to bring back film incentives that were previously scrapped. By comparison, California and New York allocate hundreds of millions in production credits annually.

“Shooting Stars” is set to premiere on the Peacock streaming platform in 2023.

LeBron James biopic ‘Shooting Stars,’ currently filming in Northeast Ohio, will premiere on Peacock in 2023

St. Vincent St. Mary High School basketball players Romeo Travis, Willie McGee, LeBron James, Sian Cotton and Dru Joyce pose for a photo in 2003. Roadell Hickman, The Plain Dealer










SOURCE: Cleveland.com | Joey Morona
May 4, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio — “Shooting Stars,” the LeBron James biopic currently in production in Cleveland and Akron, will skip theaters and premiere on the Peacock streaming service in 2023, NBCUniversal announced this week. The studio and LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Company signed a four-year, first-look production deal in 2020 and this film is the first product of that agreement.

The movie, based on Buzz Bissinger’s 2009 book, focuses on the NBA superstar’s childhood years, telling the story of a close-knit group of friends who overcome the challenges of growing up in the inner city and find refuge together on and off the court. Joining James and Carter on the project as producers are Academy Award nominees Rachel Winter (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Terence Winter (“The Wolf of Wall Street”).



LeBron James movie on high school title run filming in Cleveland, Akron

LeBron James at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. | CJP Photo / Bob Jacob








SOURCE: Cleveland Jewish News | Becky Raspe
May 4th, 2022

Film crews have once again descended on Cleveland – this time to film the LeBron James movie, “Shooting Stars.”

Set in 2003 and based on the 2009 James and Buzz Bissinger book of the same name, the movie chronicles the St. Vincent-St. Mary High School state championship basketball run while James was in high school, alongside his best friends, Dru Joyce III, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Romeo Travis. The five friends were dubbed “the Fab Five” during their time playing for the Akron school.

James’ SpringHill production company is producing the movie, bringing $25 million to the region, according to multiple reports. The project is being shot entirely in the Cleveland and Akron areas, with filming beginning in Beachwood on April 18. Other filming locations included the old South High School gym in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. Future production dates include May 4 through May 6 and June 2, according to a casting notice posted by the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. General filming is slated through the end of June.



Filming for movie about LeBron James’ life underway in Cleveland Heights

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Fairmount Boulevard doubles for LeBron’s high School, St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron(Vic Gideon)








SOURCE: Cleveland 19 News WOIO | Vic Gideon
April 28, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – A movie about LeBron James and his high school basketball team is filming throughout Northeast Ohio, with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Fairmount Boulevard doubling as the Akron native’s high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary.

“They’re trying to recreate Akron, and they’re filming in Akron for portions of the movie, but other portions are being recreated here in Cleveland,” said Bill Garvey, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. “So, anything you see is going to play as Akron in the movie, so a lot of it is basketball based and all the games portrayed in the movie that took place back then.”

The movie takes place in 2003 and is based on James’s book with Buzz Bissinger, also called “Shooting Stars.”

“No, no, it isn’t, as far as I know,” Garvey said when asked about whether James’ son, Bronny, would play his father in the movie. “It’s LeBron’s formative years, so there’s an actor playing LeBron and his teammates, of course, and they are, they are current basketball circuit on the AAU circuit.”

LeBron’s production company, Spring Hill, is producing the movie, which has a budget of $25 million. It could be out next summer.

LeBron’s “Shooting Stars” movie starts production in Cleveland Heights

Production crews work at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Fairmount and Coventry in Cleveland Heights
Photo: Vic Gideon









APRIL 27, 2022

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS — Production on the LeBron James movie, “Shooting Stars,” has begun in Cleveland and will continue for another two months.

Tuesday, crews took exteriors in Cleveland Heights at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Fairmount and Cedar, blocking off roads in the area, but according to Bill Garvey, President of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, it’s a small inconvenience considering the benefit.

“We’re happy to have LeBron back in town,” Garvey said. “Obviously, he’s a big supporter of what we do and he’s been here before with other project he’s made in Northeast Ohio.”

The movie is set in 2003 and based on the LeBron and Buzz Bissinger book of the same name, chronicling the St. Vincent/St. Mary state championship basketball run while LeBron played in high school. Garvey says he doesn’t know if Bronny, LeBron’s son, will play the NBA superstar as a teenager.

“It’s LeBron’s formative years so there’s an actor playing LeBron and his teammates and they’re current basketball players in the AAU circuit,” Garvey would only say.

LeBron’s Spring Hill production company will produce the movie and will bring $25 million dollars into the region. The movie will be shot entirely in Cleveland and Akron.

LeBron James biopic now filming in Cleveland Heights

WJW Photo






SOURCE: FOX 8 News Cleveland | Alex Stokes
April 25, 2022

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — The lights, the cameras and all the action came to quiet Woodmere Drive in Cleveland Heights Monday.

“It’s been really exciting and a lot of fun to watch,” said neighbor Muffy Kaesberg.

The major motion picture being shot at a century home on the street is “Shooting Stars,” a biopic about Akron-born basketball legend LeBron James and his high school run with the Fab 5 to the championship in 2003.

“It obviously is a highlight for our neighborhood and we love our neighborhood,” said Myra Evans.

Mikki McCubbin owns the home that was tented to make it look like nighttime.

“This house is going to be the coach’s house from when he was little,” McCubbin said. “This house is from a couple of scenes from when he was young, and they were having parties in here and drinking and stuff.”

She is no stranger to the movie industry.

“I’m originally from Los Angeles, I used to work in special effects makeup so I have been around this a lot, it’s kind of like, it’s cool, it’s very cool though for this area and I love that they’re utilizing Cleveland,” she said.

Universal Studios also used the old South High gym, which according to a tweet from Slavic Village development was transformed into St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Filming is also happening in the Akron and Canton areas.

“In my opinion, this is the best region to make movies. It’s a Shangri-La for moviemakers,” said Greater Cleveland Film Commission President Bill Garvey.

He says the film will bring in an estimated $25.5 million dollars to the local economy.

“It spotlights the industry that we’re building in Northeast Ohio and bringing jobs and economic investment into our region,” he said.

Even though filming is well underway, Angela Boehm casting says they’re still looking for 6,000 extras for Shooting Stars.

We spotted actors like Caleb McLaughlin and Khalil Everage from Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and “Cobra Kai” respectively, on set.

“Our street seems to be famous. A few years ago Katie Holmes filmed a movie on the next block down,” said Kaesberg.

The residents we spoke to are excited to be part of the Hollywood story on the four-time NBA champion.

“I think LeBron James is just such a role model for so many people and especially young black boys so we are just so happy to see his story brought to the big screen,” said Evans.

Everything to Know About the LeBron James Biopic








SOURCE: People | Natasha Dye
April 20, 2022

The “kid from Akron” is getting the Hollywood treatment! With production on the LeBron James biopic — here’s everything you need to know…

The film’s working title is Shooting Stars, the same name as James’s 2009 autobiography co-authored by Buzz Bissinger.

Shooting Stars will tell the story of James’s childhood years and his time with his group of high school teammates he dubbed the Fab 5 as they set out to take home the high school national championship, according to Cleveland.com.

“A lot of it we want to stay very true to LeBron’s story,” casting director Angela Boehm told the site.

“We are looking to create the atmosphere of what his story looked like. Cheerleaders, band members stadium fans, librarians, cafeteria workers, all of it,” Boehm said on April 10 of her agency’s search for 600 extras.

From ‘The Avengers’ to ‘Shooting Stars,’ Bill Garvey brings Hollywood to Cleveland

GCFC President Bill Garvey










SOURCE: Cleveland.com | Joey Morona
April 10, 2022

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Northeast Ohio is ready for its closeup once again as filming on “Shooting Stars” begins in parts of Cleveland and Akron this month. Based on LeBron James’ autobiography of the same name, the Universal release focuses on the NBA superstar’s childhood years, telling the story of a close-knit group of friends who overcome the challenges of growing up in the inner city and find refuge together on and off the court.

The project is the first major Hollywood production to come to the area since the Netflix film “White Noise” (also known as “Wheat Germ”) starring Adam Driver wrapped in November. It’s also the latest win for the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, the nonprofit that works to attract film and television productions to the region. The production will be here into June and pour a projected $25.5 million into the local economy, hiring crew members, partnering with local vendors and businesses and booking hotel rooms.

To put that into perspective, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” shot here in 2019, had a slightly smaller budget of $21 million and hired 118 local crew and over 3,000 extras, worked with 60 local businesses and booked more than 1,000 hotel room nights during its stay.

“LeBron James is very loyal to Northeast Ohio,” said Bill Garvey, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. “I think he always saw this as a project that needed to film here. But ultimately these projects depend on a tax incentive to come.”

Garvey is referring to the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, which provides productions a 30 percent tax credit on their in-state costs. The state limits the maximum amount of incentive awarded at $40 million a year. “Shooting Stars” is taking up $7.6 million of that.

“We have a steady stream of content being produced here, but we also have more projects that are turned away because of the restrictions of our tax incentive,” he said.

Garvey said the state had to turn away $224.5 million worth of film and television projects over the past year because of the cap on the tax incentives available. In his view, those are opportunities the state can’t afford to lose.

“We want to take advantage of the arms race of the streaming wars that’s led to an exponential increase in the amount of production happening throughout the world,” he said. “There is more opportunity than there ever has been in an industry that is growing more than any other industry at the moment.”

Originally from Queens, New York, Garvey has been in the film industry for 26 years. Before his current role luring projects to the region, he worked on the other side of the equation as a location manager, finding places for filmmakers to shoot their movies and then working on the logistics to make it happen.

His interest in movie-making began while he was a business major at the University of Notre Dame. Needing an elective, the self-described movie buff took a film production class. Fate then stepped in when “Rudy,” the inspiring 1993 sports drama, came to campus to film scenes. Director David Anspaugh spoke to the class. Garvey was hooked.

“Here’s this director in front of me telling us how he makes his living, doing something he loves. It was a foreign concept to me,” he said. “It opened my eyes.”

After bouncing around the country, Garvey and his wife settled in Cleveland in 2008 to be close to her mother, who was suffering from cancer. He quickly realized he didn’t have to be in Hollywood or New York to continue what he loved doing. Not long after his arrival, a producer hired him to scout locations for a super-secret project. It was a big-budget movie set in New York City with elaborate action sequences that would be impossible to film in a city of eight million people.

avangers filming begins

Cars, taxis and trucks were smoking and tossed about like toys during the first day of filming on “The Avengers” movie set on Monday, August 15, 2011. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)The Plain Dealer

The film turned out to be “The Avengers.” Marvel originally intended to shoot it in Detroit, but those plans fell through. Luckily, Garvey knew of a place where you could easily shut down streets so Captain America and Thor could fight off an alien invasion, and also stand in for Stuttgart, Germany, where Loki could cause trouble. It was his new adopted hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

“That film was kind of the calling card that put Cleveland on the map and started a pipeline of other projects coming here,” he said.

Garvey followed that up by bringing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Fate of the Furious,” “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “White Noise” to Cleveland. Those efforts plus his existing relationships with companies like Marvel, Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. led to him being named head of the GCFC last September.

Instead of the buyer, he’s the seller now. His pitch is pretty simple. With its unique and varied architecture, topography and climate, Cleveland can be anywhere the film needs it to be.

“Whenever I’m with a director or producer from out of town and I take them on a tour, I show them all this amazing architecture and I say that’s never been in a movie. They’re shocked because everywhere they’ve ever been, everything’s been on screen,” he said.

He also sells them on the cost of living here. But the city’s biggest asset, according to Garvey, is its people.

“I’ve filmed in many places and you don’t get the welcoming reception that we get here,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be able to go into a community, spend money and people appreciate it.”

Still, studios aren’t going to spend millions of dollars just because we’re nice to them. There are 4,000 projects currently in development and to attract some of them, Garvey said Ohio needs to stay competitive with places that offer higher tax incentives than the $40 million Ohio issues annually. States like Pennsylvania ($70 million), Kentucky ($75 million), New Mexico ($100 million) and Louisiana ($150 million).

“When the tax incentive goes away, so does the spending,” he said.

Garvey is working with state legislators and other stakeholders, trying to increase Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and make it more flexible. Since its inception in 2009, the incentive has generated $1.1 billion in economic impact and created over 6,000 jobs. The ultimate goal, he said, is to replicate the success in Georgia, which doesn’t cap the amount of tax credits it doles out or restrict when entertainment companies can apply for them to just two times a year as Ohio does. The result: film and TV production has become a major part of Georgia’s economy with $4 billion of spending annually, which has led to the creation of an infrastructure that now includes roughly 100 soundstages across the state.

“That’s why they’re the new Hollywood,” he said.

Garvey believes the film industry in Northeast Ohio has the potential to become a sustainable, year-round business, too. Some of the pieces of the puzzle are already in place. Studio projects such as “White Noise,” “Cherry,” “The Marksman,” Oscar winner “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and smaller ones such as “The Hunting” and “The Enormity of Life” have given local actors, artisans and technicians valuable experience on set. Film programs at Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland Institute of Art are producing the next generation of filmmakers.

“We have a pipeline of those kids going into these jobs, but we want more of these jobs for more of these kids,” he said.

That pipeline includes a few productions scheduled to arrive after “Shooting Stars” wraps. Garvey can’t elaborate on them, but he’s particularly excited about a Warner Bros. feature that will be partially shot here and another project he describes as “high profile.” Stay tuned.

For now, his focus remains on expanding the film industry here and across Ohio. He’s been encouraged by the progress so far.

“There have been so many silos over the years and my main goal is breaking down the silos and getting everybody cooperating as a film community,” he said. “Once we have a higher tax incentive, then we can have multiple projects shooting in multiple places at the same time. That’s what creates stability and longevity.”

Casting agency calls on Cleveland-area actors for roles in LeBron James movie

Basketball player LeBron James talks to reporters as he arrives for the special screening of his film, “Trainwreck” at the Regal Cinemas Montrose Stadium 12 theaters, on Friday, July 10, 2015, in Akron, Ohio. James is hosting the screening of the film which also stars Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. (Photo by Phil Long/Invision/AP)(Phil Long/Invision/AP)










SOURCE: Cleveland 19 News | Chris Anderson
April 1, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – Hollywood is coming to Northeast Ohio in the form of an upcoming film about LeBron James, and a local casting agency is looking for actors to fill roles in the movie.

Angela Boehm Casting said the roles would be featured in a Universal Studios production about James and the “Fab Five” at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.

Potential parts include portraying a mascot, high school band members, basketball coaches, referees, and more.

The Northeast Ohio casting agency has previously set local actors up for other major movies filmed in the Cleveland area, including “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Cherry.”

Movie about LeBron James’ high school years could be filmed in Akron

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School’s “Fab Four Freshmen,” from left, LeBron James, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Dru Joyce, take a portrait in March 2000. Beacon Journal/Ohio.com File Photo











SOURCE: Akron Beacon Journal | George M. Thomas
March 23, 2022

An upcoming movie detailing the high school years of NBA superstar LeBron James and his friends who played with him could soon be filmed in and around Akron and Cleveland.

The movie will be adapted from Buzz Bissinger’s James biography “Shooting Stars,” published in 2009, according to reports. That book focused on James and friends Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce III, Willie McGee and Romeo Travis, who all played for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. They won three state titles and one national championship under the guidance of coaches Keith Dambrot, who went on to coach at the University of Akron and is now at Duquesne, and Dru Joyce II.