The Associated Press
State development officials and moviemaking groups want more action when it comes to persuading filmmakers to shoot in Ohio.
After the state eliminated the Ohio Film Commission in 2002 to save money, the Development Department is trying to establish a state film office that would help market shooting locations from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.
And a lawmaker is pushing again for legislation to offer tax incentives to people who invest in major productions shot in the state, which would add Ohio to 43 other states that offer financial lures.
However, House Republicans did not include funding for the film marketing office in their version of the state budget, and the proposal to provide incentives has failed in the past.
Ohio has many features that are attractive to filmmakers, and a film office would increase the power of the state’s marketing, proponents say.
“With the exception of mountains and a seashore, you can find any kind of setting to make a movie,” said Mark Barbash, the Development Department’s chief economic development officer.
The old film commission, created in 1976 to lobby filmmakers and scout locations, was credited with generating $134 million for the state in its lifetime. Scenes for movies such as “Major League,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Spider-Man 3” are among those with shoots in the state over the years.
Without the statewide commission, marketing fell to film commissions in Cleveland and Cincinnati, which get some state support. The budget proposes $100,000 apiece over the next two years, about 10 percent of the Cleveland commission’s budget.
Chris Carmody, Cleveland commission president, said local film agencies rarely have enough money to go on the offensive in Los Angeles and New York, where decisions about where to shoot movies are made.
Carmody also favors tax incentives.
“Ten years ago it used to be a pretty even playing field,” he said. “There weren’t many incentives out there. California and New York had the lion’s share of productions.”
But in recent years Canada and many states began offering tax breaks that have attracted filmmakers, he said.
Louisiana gained the nickname “Hollywood South” after enacting a successful package of tax credits for films and TV productions in 2002, including incentives for production companies to hire Louisiana residents and build studios.
Dozens of productions have been filmed in the state since. Tres Bernhard, executive vice president of LIFT Productions — formed by the Louisiana Institute of Film Technology — the initiative has created 15,000 jobs that pay more than $25 an hour.
Tax incentives are crucial to attract film companies, he said.
“You won’t get any without them,” he said.
Gail Mezey, director of the Greater Columbus Film Commission, said tax incentives would be a big help in Ohio.
“Most other states have incentives,” she said. “Ohio, glaringly, doesn’t have anything.”
State Sen. Patricia Clancy, a Cincinnati Republican, has proposed legislation to provide an income tax credit for individuals who invest in movies, television shows or commercials filmed in Ohio as long as the production costs at least $300,000.
But the bill, which has not been approved in the past, faces another obstacle in Ohio Tax Commissioner Rich Levin who has promised to oppose weakening the state’s tax system with loopholes, exemptions and special treatment.
The Development Department is trying to get lawmakers to restore the $400,000 it proposed in the state budget to create a two-person Ohio film office with a marketing budget.
Vans Stevenson, senior vice president of state and government affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America, said the cost of making movies has increased and the companies have been leaving California in droves to shoot in other states because of the financial incentives.
Without incentives, Ohio could lose projects when cost is the main concern, he said.
Some movies filmed partly or entirely in Ohio:
“The Deer Hunter” (1977)
“A Christmas Story” (1983)
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987)
“Rain Man” (1988)
“Major League” (1989)
“Tango and Cash” (1989)
“Men in Black” (1991)
“The Shawshank Redemption” (1993)
“Air Force One” (1996)
“Spider-Man 3” (2006)