Ohio attracts Hollywood

By:  Chris Coon

Thick black smoke fills the sunny blue sky as vehicles of all shapes and sizes lay the blaze of what looks to be the aftermath of a battle.

NYPD cruisers and yellow taxicabs sit abandoned as large pieces of rubble are either on top or surround the vehicles. The street and sidewalks are littered with debris as a sign nearby reads Grand Central Station-42nd Street station.

The only problem with this picture is that all of this happened on East Ninth Street in downtown Cleveland this past summer during the filming of the new Marvel comic book movie “The Avengers.”

With the newly enacted Ohio tax credit incentives, filmmakers of big movies such as “The Avengers” have been able to take full advantage of the refundable tax credit. The credit, which equals close to 25 percent off in in-state spending toward non-residents’ wages, according to the Ohio Film offices website, has been one of the key drawing points for filmmakers

Other films, such as “The Ides of March,” which just recently hit theaters, took advantage of the new tax credit filming in Ohio. According to the Internet Movie Database, locations in Ohio for the film included Cincinnati, Oxford, Miami University and Xavier University.

Filmmakers who do decide to shoot in Ohio must spend a minimum of $300,000, which allows for many independent films to shoot here. A good example is “25 Hill,” a movie that was directed by Corbin Bernsen, who shot the film mostly in Akron, Ohio.

“25 Hill,” a movie about soapbox derby racing and achieving dreams, had an estimated budget of $ 1 million, according to IMDB, which fits the category of a film that would be eligible for Ohio’s tax incentive.

“I think that’s one of the reasons that Corbin Bernsen wanted to film here,” executive producer of “25 Hill” Mary Ethridge said in regards to the Ohio tax incentive. “I don’t think he would have come here if we would have not had some kind of tax incentive program for filmmakers.”

Although the tax credit may seem to favor big time movies like “The Avengers” and “Ides of March,” it also has a big-time effect on independent films.

“I think it favors both, but it is going to have a bigger impact on a independent film with a smaller budget,” Ethridge said. “Every little bit helps when you’re making a film like this.”

Ethridge talked about the importance of the tax incentive due to the fact that when “25 Hill” received its refund check from the state, they were able to use that money for their first payment toward their investors who helped fund the movie.

Films being shot in the area overall helps tremendously in the local community, not only economically, but also when it comes to exposure.

“I think Akron has a chance right now to become a center of filmmaking. There are lots of small films going on around the area,” Ethridge said. “I would say Northeast Ohio really has a lot of potential.”

With two major films already shot in Ohio and many more to come in the independent ranks, the outlook for attracting films to Ohio is looking very promising.