Ohio exploded onto the moviemaking map in 2011 when it secured the job of hosting blockbuster film Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. Marvel owner Disney originally intended to shoot in the state of Michigan. But when doubts emerged about the future of Michigan’s incentive programme, the company decided to switch its production plans in favour of Ohio.
This decision was based partly on attractive tax incentives (more below) and partly on Ohio’s willingness to be flexible. The city of Cleveland, for example, gave the Avengers production team extensive support for almost a year. This included shutting down various sections of the city and handing complete control of them to the filmmakers. This was something other cities would not have been able to promise.
All told, it is reckoned that Marvel spent $25m in Ohio while shooting the Avengers. And the good news for Ohio was that the film was a big box office hit. As a result, Marvel/Disney decided to come back to the state to make Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As in the case of The Avengers Assemble, Cleveland is used to double for the streets of New York.
Aside from the Marvel films, the big story coming into 2014 is the news that Cate Blanchett’s new drama Carol will use Cincinnati to recreate 1950s New York. Commenting on the news, producer Elizabeth Karlsen said: "We are delighted to have chosen Cincinnati as our location. I made a film here 20 years ago and found the city and its people incredibly welcoming and helpful. The crew and talent were first rate. Our experience on Carol has been similarly positive. The city offers excellent creative choices for us and the tax incentive has been instrumental in enabling us to get the green light on the film.”
“We are ecstatic to host such an extraordinary project,” said Kristen Schlotman, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Film Commission. “This is the largest motion picture to shoot in our area since the (Ohio) incentive was established and will be one of Hollywood’s highest profile films produced next year".
Other recent or current productions in Ohio include titles such as In Other Words, The Tribunal, The Do Over, Johnny Longshot, Beg the Devil, Miss Meadows, Star and the Snowman, Love Finds you in Sugarcreek, Jenny's Wedding, Bad Grandpa, Underdogs, Kings of Summer, Amish Ice, Parker and Draft Day. Johnny Longshot stars Emilio Estevez while the cast list of Miss Meadows is headed by Katie Holmes. Outside movies, Ohio is sometimes used as the backdrop for TV series. Examples include ABC Family’s Greek and NBC’s Harry’s Law.
The Blunderer, starring Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson, directed by Andy Goddard and produced by Christine Vachon and Ted Hope of Killer Films shot in Cincinnatti in winter 2014.
Ohio is trying to attract production by offering “low to fee-free permits” and the promise of lower costs in general. As The Winter Solider demonstrates, the state is keen to make the logistics of filmmaking as smooth as possible. In terms of persuasive arguments for shooting in Ohio, it’s worth noting that the cost of living is roughly 35-41% less than the Los Angeles region and over 50% less expensive than Manhattan.
Studios include Akron-based Studio 526, a state of the art shooting environment with 7000 sq ft of unobstructed space. There’s also Cleveland-based Creative House Studio, which has one of the state’s largest green screen facilities.OSV Studios is another Cleveland-based facility which specialises in commercials, films, corporate marketing and training videos.
Ohio has a wide range of locations across urban, suburban and rural communities. These include deep forests and majestic bodies of water, industrial town squares and innovative city blocks; and rolling hills and farmland. There is also a range of period architecture to be found in the state. The Old West End neighborhood of Toledo is acknowledged as the largest collection of late Victorian and Edwardian homes in the United States, east of the Mississippi. Ohio is not a big state so most of the locations referenced above are in close proximity.
An interesting resource for locations information is the website. Here you’ll find some details of films shot in the state. One example is the Denzel Washington, Chris Pine thriller Unstoppable (2010). The story of a runaway train carrying toxic chemicals, it was filmed in Ohio cities including Martin’s Ferry, Bellaire, Mingo Junction, Steubenville and Brewster. Looking further back, NBC’s mini-series Centennial was partly shot in the historic Roscoe Village.
One possible location promoted by the Ohio Film Office is Vora Technology Park, a 55-acre business campus located along the Great Miami River in Hamilton, Ohio. First constructed in 1961, the site went through numerous renovations, eventually adding 100,000 sq ft of office space, a four-story atrium with skylights, a conference center and a dining hall with seating capacity of 650 people. At 366,000 sq ft with a white marble and granite facade, the site has been praised for its beauty. It is also home to a myriad of tree and plant life, as well as a 2.2-acre pond with illuminated fountains and jogging path.
In terms of logistics, Ohio has good domestic and international transport links. It also has a range of accommodation from luxury hotels through to boutique hotels and B&Bs.
Ohio's rich history of theatre and film means it has a strong talent pool. It is also a very populous state, meaning it can provide a large extras pool.
One example is Cleveland Camera Rental which can supply camera, lighting, sound and grip equipment across the state. Also based in Cleveland is Dodd Camera, which has a wide range of kit.