CLEVELAND — Ahead of a live conversation tonight with the voice of Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright, the president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission (GCFC) is optimistic about the future of the film industry in Northeast Ohio, despite a pause in many productions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While certain aspects of the entertainment industry have been less affected than others, the production world as a whole has had to adapt to new safety protocols designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and it has been rising to the challenge.
GCFC President Evan Miller told 3News that his group is planning ahead for when things reopen on a larger scale, and that Cleveland is well-positioned to hit the ground running when that happens.
“We’re optimistic,” Miller said. “I love LA and I love New York but we’re never going to have the population that they do, so just on that alone we’re not going to have those numbers, and so we’ll be able to open up a little sooner.”
Part of what the film commission is doing in the meantime includes hosting free virtual events, like the one on Wednesday night beginning at 7 P.M. Eastern with Cartwright, where the Emmy and Annie Award winning voice-over actor will talk about her career, how she got into the business, and what people can do to be successful as voiceover artists.
“We’re very excited to have Nancy joining us,” Miller told 3News, of the Dayton native who has a long list of credits to her name, including voicing the characters of Chuckie from The Rugrats and Rufus the naked mole-rat on Kim Possible.
Cartwright, who is one of the highest paid and most sought-after voice-over actors in the business, will talk about her Ohio roots and how she got to where she is now, while sharing stories about her experiences in the entertainment business and giving practical advice on how to make it in film and television.
“Voice-over is something that a lot of people don’t think about,” Miller said. “Whether it’s just listening to a car commercial or the radio, voice-over is in all of our lives, and I think Nancy can speak to, better than anybody, how it’s something to work into a career and be successful with.”
While animation and voice-over are typically things that can be done individually in an edit bay or a recording booth, Miller shared insight on what the rest of the production world is doing to try to stay afloat when medical experts say it’s not yet safe to work with large groups of people in close quarters.
“What’s fortunate is the entertainment industry is made up of probably some of the most creative people in the world, and thankfully everybody is working very collaboratively to figure out what protocols need to be put in place, what testing measures [to adopt], so that production can be done safely,” Miller said.
The labor unions across the country and even internationally have been working with production companies to help develop best practices, Miller said, and that has led to work being able to get done.
“We’re starting to see things pop back up overseas, and a little bit here in Los Angeles and New York, which is exciting,” he said.
When asked whether work can be done on production sets now in Cleveland, Miller said: “Very much so.”
The film commission has been fielding lots of interest from people who are ready to start creating, including people who have been living in the more traditional entertainment hubs, like Los Angeles, who have come home to Northeast Ohio to ride out the pandemic.
“Obviously we want to make sure the city, the county, everybody is comfortable, and smaller scale stuff can start to get going,” he said. “We’re really excited about the phone calls we’re getting right now.”
Looking to the future, Miller expects more and more people to be back on set working within the next six months.
“Anything larger scale, we’re confident that we will be able to work with various entities as the numbers start to get a little better, and get people back to work sooner than later,” he said.
“No matter what, when big production really gears back up, probably closer to early in 2021, we’re going to be in a position to be right there with everybody else.”
To join tonight’s free virtual conversation with Cartwright, visit ClevelandFilm.com and RSVP. Registrants will be sent a link to the Zoom event.
Viewers can submit their own questions, to be answered live by Cartwright during the program.