Ohio's film industry makes positive strides

Film has created 9,000 temp, 1,143 full-time jobs in Ohio since ’09.

The study by the Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University found Ohio’s economy makes $1.20 for every dollar film companies receive in state tax breaks.

The study also found that businesses such as hotels and restaurants experienced increases in business during and after film production in their area.

Since 2009, the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit has offered $40 million against the corporation franchise or income tax for movies shot in Ohio — $30 million in the 2010 and 2011 and $10 million each for this year and the fiscal year beginning in July.

Sen. Tom Patton, R-Strongsville, and Rep. Mike Dovilla, R-Berea, said Wednesday they plan to introduce companion bills that would raise the tax credit cap to $20 million a year in 2013 and 2014.

Patton said the additional $10 million each year would come from the general revenue fund.

Twenty-seven productions have taken advantage of the credit — 16 projects shot in northeast Ohio.

Dayton hasn’t been the site for a major project, but the region still benefits from projects in Cleveland and Cincinnati, said Karri O’Reilly, a producer and FilmDayton board member. O’Reilly said Dayton residents worked on crews for “The Avengers” and “Take Shelter,” and the jobs offer health care benefits and wages spent in Ohio.

This year’s credits were awarded within two weeks of the start of the fiscal year, and O’Reilly said productions went to other states after the cap was reached. O’Reilly said a bigger cap would ensure some money is left over for small projects after big-budget movies reach the incentive’s per production limit of $5 million.

Patton said Ohio can keep those projects and a thriving film industry would keep talented young Ohioans in the state.

“This gives us an opportunity to create an industry, to create full-time jobs to maintain some of our greatest natural resources — those young men and women who want to be in this industry but want to stay in Ohio,” Patton said.

Ohio competes with 37 other states that have film industry tax credits. Neighboring Pennsylvania caps its incentive program at $60 million and earns $4.02 for every dollar, according to the Cleveland State study.

Michigan drastically reduced its film incentive last year and placed a $25 million cap on the program to avoid a budget deficit.

Film industry advocates say Ohio stole away business from Michigan including “The Avengers,” which filmed in Cleveland and Wilmington.

Ohio’s credit is equal to 25 percent of in-state spending and non-Ohio resident wages and 35 percent of resident wage expenses, up to $5 million per production.

In Ohio, nine out of every 10 film industry jobs went to residents, but most were working as extras, which earned $172 on average, according to the study. The average wage for non-Ohioans was $37,127, which study authors said is likely skewed toward “high-priced Hollywood talent.”

More money for tax credits is one tool Ohio can use to build a strong film industry that employs Ohioans, said Ivan Schwarz, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, which funded the study. Schwarz said the industry could be more year-round instead of a seasonal effort.

“Filmmakers are not afraid of the weather,” Schwarz said. “There’s nothing you can’t do in Ohio except for mountains and desserts. They really look at this as an untapped gold mine and they’re excited to come here.”

Contact this reporter at (614) 224-1608 or jborchardt@ daytondailynews.com.

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