Filmmakers generate thousands of jobs, spend millions in Greater Cincy

A price tag has now been attached to the slew of film crews that have worked on movies, television series and commercials in the Cincinnati region over the past two years.

A new estimate released over the weekend by University of Cincinnati Economics Center puts the economic impact at some $54 million and change.

Production of movies such as Oscar contender “Carol,” Miles Davis bio-flick “Miles Ahead” and boxing drama “Tiger” invested about $54 million to hire performers, pay for consulting services, lease buildings and make other investments, according to the Economics Center.

The activity since 2014 also created an estimated 8,832 direct and indirect full- and part-time jobs, according to the report, paid for by the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission.

University of Cincinnati added up the financial impact of the region’s burgeoning film industry as the local film commission promotes the area at the annual Sundance Film Festival, which started Jan. 21.

“Films that are coming out of Cincinnati and the awards they’re receiving, people are talking about it now,” said Kristen Schlotman, executive director of the Cincinnati commission.

Three movies filmed in Ohio were selected to premier at the festival. Participating films shot in Ohio include “Goat,” about a 19-year-old boy who pledges his brother’s fraternity in an attempt to prove his manhood; “The Land,” a story of four teenage boys who devote their summer to escaping the streets of Cleveland by pursuing a dream life of professional skateboarding; and “The Fits,” about a tight-knit dance team in Cincinnati’s West End plagued by a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells, according to Sundance.

“When they see these films… and they ask where they’ve been made and how was the experience, we want to be on hand,” Schlotman said. “We’re also going to bring new projects home and get to know a lot of the industry.”

Taxpayers have also supplemented the cost of making movies and other films in Greater Cincinnati to the tune of approximately $11.8 million in 2014 and 2015, during which time 11 feature films and a reality television series taped on the streets of Cincinnati, Hamilton, Lebanon and elsewhere, according to UC’s report.

However, for every dollar spent, UC officials say Butler, Brown, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren county taxpayers are getting a return of $17.59 on average, more than the statewide average return.

Last year, this news outlet found filmmakers wanting to do a movie in Ohio and claim tax incentives for production costs will have to go on a waiting list.

Ohio has already committed all $20 million total available for tax credits this budget year, which began July 1, 2015, to movie, television, commercial and other crews that have sought incentives to film in the state, according to Ohio Development Services Agency, the state department that runs the tax program.

Because companies apply for tax credits before filming starts, it’s common for projects to be canceled even after getting state financial approval, thus freeing up a new spot in the queue for the next filmmaker to claim their share of savings, Lyn Tolan, spokeswoman for the development department, previously said.

Since the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Incentive was created in 2009, the state has awarded more than $54 million worth of tax credits and cash to about 61 production companies that have completed projects, according to the state development department.

The area’s low cost of production, as well as a ready-to-go base of production crew and wide variety of filming scenes including city and country landscapes have all made it attractive to film here, Schlotman of Film Cincinnati said.

“We’d like to see instead of $20 million a year, we’d like to see the state increase that so we’re not just getting major motion pictures but we’re anchoring television series as well,” she said.

Four movies over the last two years have filmed in Hamilton: The movie “Tiger,” starring Mickey Rourke concluded its production efforts in early December; James Franco’s “The Long Home;” “The Echo Effect,” starring professional wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2014; and “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett, in 2014.

“One benefit of working with the various productions the last few years is it has allowed our staff to become more accustomed to the unique needs that a film crew requires, which allows us to provide better care so they can do the work they are here for,” Shawn Stidham, director of sales for downtown Hamilton hotel Courtyard by Marriott, previously told Journal-News.

“In addition, the productions have helped give Hamilton a little bit of a ‘cool’ factor in the local media. You see and hear (and read) the various news reports that open with ‘another movie in Hamilton,’ and it has made people want to personally come to Hamilton to see first-hand what the buzz is about,” Stidham said. “It translates into business as they visit and, hopefully, spend money locally whether it’s with us or Sara’s House or Ryan’s Tavern or All8Up or any of the various businesses in Hamilton.”

Staff Writer Wayne Baker contributed to this report.

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