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Greater Cleveland Film Commission leads fight to protect future of Ohio movie industry

"This is the new manufacturing."

CLEVELAND — The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit brought big movies like The Avengers, Captain America Winter Soldier, and White Boy Rick to Cleveland but the state house recently passed a two-year-budget proposal to get rid of it and instead provide income tax relief.

Tuesday night, members of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission (GCFC) hosted a question and answer session for local movie industry professionals.

 The organization is fighting to save film jobs in Ohio.

“These jobs are no different than construction jobs, this is the new manufacturing,” explains GCFC President Ivan Schwarz.  “People work form movie to movie to movie and they’re full-time equivalent jobs.”

Schwarz says more than 5,000 of those jobs have been created and more than 150 projects have been shot in Northeast Ohio alone.  He says everyone focuses on big movies but the bread and butter are small independent films.

The tax credit currently stands at $40 million but the commission is working with lawmakers to increase the incentive to $100 million. 

“It’s not so much whether you’re for or against it, it’s looking at it in the context of how are we spending our state’s resources,” explains Policy Matters Ohio, Researcher Zach Schiller.

“It’s not free money.  It’s something where we have to make choices and our view is that while it’s desirable to have a motion picture industry we have other needs as well that need to be met.”

The non-profit research institute believes the money could be better spent dealing with other issues in Ohio like, lead poisoning, education or increasing foster care costs.

The proposed cut is not a done deal.  Now it’s in the hands of the state senate.

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