Russ Mitchell goes one-on-one with incoming Greater Cleveland Film Commission President Bill Garvey

SOURCE: WKYC 3 Studios | Jessica Miller, Russ Mitchell
August 13, 2021

CLEVELAND — As Hollywood ramps up it’s recovery after the pandemic, the Northeast Ohio film industry is poised for a new era of leadership under Bill Garvey, who takes over as the new president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission next month.

In a new interview with 3News’ Russ Mitchell, Garvey says, the region is an ideal spot for filmmaking.

“We have amazing architecture here. We have amazing infrastructure. The people are great,” he said. “This is an industry that we can be successful at.”

A location manager with 20-plus years of experience, Garvey has spent the last 13 of those here in Ohio. He is credited with helping to bring films like “The Fate of the Furious” and Marvel’s “The Avengers” to Cleveland.

He succeeds Evan Miller, who held the position for less than two years, and longtime president Ivan Schwartz, who led the organization from 2006 to 2013.

Garvey says his main focus is to bring more productions here to Northeast Ohio.

“And that goes hand in hand with the film tax incentive,” he explained.  “So right now we have a $40 million cap. I want to raise that to increase production, to strengthen it – because we have good production here.”

Production that Garvey believes could one day rival Georgia, which has exploded as a major entertainment industry hub in recent years.

“It’s everybody’s competition. It’s the pinnacle. I mean, it’s really where all movies are going these days,” he said. “Marvel has set up shop there, Disney, Apple…there, there’s so much production there. It’s robust.  Thousands of people are working, and there really good-paying jobs.”

And Garvey believes the sky’s the limit in terms of how large the industry could grow in Northeast Ohio.

“It’s all about political willpower to increase the tax incentive. So once we do that, the jobs will flow.”

Since the motion picture tax credit program launched in Ohio in 2009, Cleveland has played host to more than 300 productions. And now, Garvey says we’re poised for a post-Covid comeback.

“Right now we have movies filming all the time. We have three coming in, in the fall,” he said. “We have an explosion of production happening unlike any other time, because there’s a vacuum of content [because of the pandemic shut downs] that all these streaming services need to fill. And now is the time to seize this opportunity.”

It’s a vision that could help re-write Cleveland’s story – just like a Hollywood screenplay.

“There’s a lot to like about the new business,” Garvey said. “It’s a growing industry. When you see manufacturing going away, this is an industry that’s growing. Why can’t we?”