Waking The Ohio Film Giant

John Daugherty at the 2017 Columbus Film Summit
Film Columbus’ Executive Director, John Daugherty addresses filmmakers at the 3rd Annual Columbus Film Summit.

Hollywood has always been the first place that comes to mind when someone talks about movie production, but it’s not alone anymore.  Obviously, New York City has always been a chief competitor, but now Atlanta and the rest of the Peach State are joining the ranks of alternative hotspots for video, video game and film production.  Film incentives have been attached to states like Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina and Michigan as well, but those states are currently in the midst of some disarray.  So where does Ohio fit in?  Wait a minute. Ohio?  All Ohio is known for is corn, cows and speeding tickets, right?  Oh… and The Avengers.  There is that.

On Thursday, June 15th, 2017, the Ohio Film Group, Film Columbus, The Ohio Film Office, The Mid Ohio Filmmakers Association, The Greater Columbus Arts Council, The City of Columbus, The Gateway Film Center, The Wexner Center for the Arts, The Columbus College of Art & Design and the Columbus Arts Festival and the oldest film festival in America, the Columbus International Film & Video Festival,  all came together to discuss the future of the film industry in the Buckeye State, and long story short, there’s much to be excited about.

Bruce Willis and Hayden Christensen in the Ohio filmed, First Kill
Bruce Willis has filmed in Ohio more than once in the past few years.

Only a few short years ago when the first tax incentives for film were rolled out in the state, there were 6 projects sharing $10-million in incentives.  Only a few years later, 33 productions are in the queue, sharing a pot of $40-million dollars in incentives.  In 2016, Ohio hosted the production of “I Am Wrath”, a John Travolta revenge thriller, “Fast 8″ with Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel, and Bruce Willis in “First Kill”, among others.  This year, Bruce Willis is back, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Sorbo, Hayden Christensen and more have either been seen or soon will be seen in front of the lens in Ohio.  Ohio has a way to go, however.

During one discussion, it was revealed that as many as 90% of Ohio film program students head to the west coast after graduation in search of professional work.  That leaves a very large gap in Ohio as far as talented and trained crew, but an initiative is building, and the hope is that Hollywood’s investment in Ohio could lure those students back, which could help build a robust, self-sustaining independent film industry in Ohio.

Ohio’s tax credits are transferable and refundable, and are credited at 30% (eligible expenses).  The state mandates that Ohio crew persons must be hired to work on the production.  There is no per-project cap on tax credits, however eligible tax credit availability is capped at $40-million.

Interested in filming in a diverse state, with cities, corn fields, large lakes, mountainous terrain, flat prairie lands and quaint town centers?  Ohio might just be the heart of it all.


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