Ohio Venture - OVA Review Newsletter
News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on January 10, 2014

Keynote Address:

Creating a Film Industry in Northeast Ohio

Ivan Schwarz
Greater Cleveland Film Commission

While Northeast Ohio has been the site of production for nearly 50 films in the last four years, generating about $300 million in economic activity, even that level of activity still doesn't equate to having a sustainable local film industry, the president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission told OVA at its January luncheon.

It's not just about bringing movies here or wowing residents with regular local sightings of Hollywood stars, Ivan Schwarz said, "but creating that permanent infrastructure and the workforce development, so that anyone who wants to work in this industry can do so, 24/7, 365 days a year."

That requires a number of other pieces to be in place, he said, from a film school to a state-of-the-art backstage production complex—"basically an incubator for people in this industry." Once that infrastructure exists, a wide range of ancillary services will follow, he said, everything from lumber yards to providers of port-a-potties. A healthy local film industry would also attract such booming related industries as video gaming and animation, he said.

Upon joining the Film Commission seven years ago, Schwarz became a lead advocate in the successful effort to pass a statewide film tax incentive to promote filming in Ohio and support the local film workforce. In July 2009, the state passed the Ohio Film Tax Credit, which provides $30 million in credits to film, television and other media productions. In doing so, it joined about 40 other states in offering such tax credits, which Schwarz said was a necessary first step in leveling the playing field.

Part of his master plan involves building a local film school, "more like a tech academy, where you learn how to get a job. There's a process and a language and a culture" that you need to know to work in the industry, he said. "Our job at the film commission is to combine all these elements."

Despite all the momentum, he said it's sometimes still an uphill battle to get movie industry decision makers on the west coast to consider locating production in this region. "It's not that people have a negative impression of Cleveland. They have no impression of Cleveland, unless they're from here or have come through here." But he went on to say that attracting the production of the Captain America movie felt like a crucial breakthrough. The announcement that it would be filmed in Cleveland garnered 73 million media impressions in one day, and caused industry players as far away as London to sit up and take notice.

"I want to be a global center of excellence for this industry. I want people around the world to look at Cleveland and be blown away by coming here."

More information:

Webcast from the Meeting:

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Upcoming Meeting Dates:

  • March 7, 2014
    Venture Capital Summit IX
  • April 7, 2014
    NE Ohio Entrepreneur Expo: Connections Matter
  • May 9, 2014
    Mark Chance
    Vice Dean for Research
    CWRU School of Medicine
  • June 13, 2014
    Venture of the Year

See complete details and registration for these events.

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