Friday, May 13, 2011

Cincinnati, The New Hollywood

Perhaps, it’s a tad bit over the top to call Cincinnati the new Hollywood. However, this past March George Clooney came to town with his new film, The Ides of March. He spent over three weeks on several locations shooting throughout the area. Obviously, it created a great buzz in the city.

Not since the days of Rain Man back in 1987 has Cincinnati been this excited about filmmaking. Now news has just broken from Kristen Erwin, Executive Director of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission. Marvel Studios will be shooting the $170 million budget film “The Avengers” here later in the year. Currently, filming started on April 26 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hernsworth as Thor, and Samuel L. Jackson as Col. Nick Fury. As you can see, it’s an all-star lineup.

What has made all of this possible is Ohio’s new tax credit. Just as Michigan and Louisiana have lured away Los Angeles-based productions, Ohio has now gotten in on the act.

Things are looking up for area extras and crew members. Erwin estimates that The Ides of March spent approximately $7 million in the Cincinnati area. The Avengers being a much larger production will certainly surpass that number. George Clooney has certainly gotten the ball rolling by putting in a good word about the merits of shooting in Cincinnati. Clooney has the respect of his peers, and, with his help, Cincinnati will most likely see future film projects coming into the city in the near future.

So what makes Cincinnati a hot prospect? First, Cincinnati is a low cost town compared to Los Angeles. Whatever you think it’s going to cost to shoot here, take 30% off. Hotels, food and rentals will seem inexpensive in comparison. Second, Cincinnati has the infrastructure to support major film projects. Whatever you need, it’s here—production trucks, cameras, experienced crews—they’re all accessible. Third, Cincinnati has a friendly and accommodating attitude. In Los Angeles, most people are sick and tired of film production disrupting their daily lives. You won’t find that attitude here. In fact, the welcome mat is out. Whatever you need, you’ll probably get it. Local officials will be more than accommodating to close streets or do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Here’s something else to consider. In Los Angeles, most people play the angles concerning film and TV production. They want to get paid for everything. There’s nothing free. But I think here in Cincinnati you’ll see a different approach. We want the spotlight on our area so we can showcase our home town. Fourth, Cincinnati offers multiple locations within a short driving distance. We have it all—historical sites, diverse architecture, horse farms, the mighty Ohio river, farmland, and a modern cosmopolitan city. Of course, the cherry on top is the tax breaks. The State of Ohio is practically paying you to come here to make your film. So, I guess the question is why wouldn’t you want to shoot in Cincinnati.

For us who live here in Cincinnati, we’re thrilled to host the new emerging film movement that is taking place in our city. As I said, the welcoming mat is out.

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