Tax incentives for film, TV projects total nearly $44M

Published 10:02 am Monday, March 9, 2015

HAMILTON (AP) — Ohio has given nearly $44 million in tax incentives to movie, television and commercial crews since 2010 in an effort to lure the film industry to the state, records show.

About 50 movies, TV shows, commercials and video games have been made in Ohio since 2011, the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reported. Ohio’s tax incentive program for film and television production, which began in 2009, will cover up to 25 percent of production costs and wages, and up to 35 percent for Ohio resident wages.

Production projects earning the largest incentives from Ohio included “Captain America: Winter Soldier” with nearly $4.9 million, “Alex Cross” with about $4.5 million and “Draft Day” with $4.3 million.

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Studies have shown film production projects often return funds to Ohio’s economy by providing more business to local establishments and creating jobs. A University of Cincinnati study last year showed that three projects filmed in the area spent $46 million on jobs, production and indirect spending for the films.

A 2012 Cleveland State University study found that $1.20 was pumped back into Ohio’s economy for every dollar the state spent on film production projects.

While filming has brought big names to Ohio including George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and Cate Blanchett, the economic impact of production projects is more exciting than the visiting stars, said Ivan Schwarz, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission.

“Some of the movies that are coming through the state, people are all excited about it because a certain actor is here,” Schwarz said. “What they should be really excited about is the jobs and economic development.”

“It’s not about bringing Hollywood to Ohio or Cleveland or Columbus. It’s about bringing an industry,” he added.

Ohio must compete with 38 other states that also offer tax incentives for film projects.

When determining where a project will be filmed, it’s all about price, said Norton Francis, a senior researcher at the Tax Policy Center in Washington. If California starts giving out more money, films would simply stay put, he said.

Ohio caps its film incentives at $20 million per year, but some want more money for the program.

Schwarz said he hopes the state will offer up to $50 million in incentives each year, but added that more crew members need to gain experience to handle the increased filming.

Still, the state union that represents most film workers has nearly tripled since the incentive program began.

“I’ve been in the business since 1975,” said Ken McCahan with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. “I’ve never seen this much movie work in Ohio.”