Thursday, November 5, 2015

There Will Be Film: Russos Return to Boost the Local Film Industry

Photo by Jeff Downie
Joe and Anthony Russo won’t be coming back to Cleveland anytime soon to direct another blockbuster like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Instead they are hunkered down in an editing bay to finish Captain America: Civil War one day; while the next day they are in a writers' room working out the details of the next two sequentially shot Avengers films.

The brothers who grew up on Cleveland’s East Side have, however, made time to come back and host a symposium on local filmmaking at the InterContinental Cleveland Hotel at noon Nov. 6.

Tickets start at $150 each and doors open at 11:30 a.m. The annual fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Film Commission focuses on what film production means to our city.

A study by Cleveland State University indicates that since 2009, the film tax incentive has generated a $300 million economic impact on Northeast Ohio, and created 1,100 full-time equivalent jobs. The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier both took advantage of the credit and aesthetic locales from Public Square to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

For the Russo Brothers, it’s personal.

“It’s something very close to us and we want to do everything we can to encourage filmmaking in Cleveland, because we love shooting [here],” says Anthony. “It’s another step in the process of us trying to help develop and deepen and broaden the film potential in Cleveland.”

Like Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, they see a region of untapped potential. In Cleveland’s case, it’s a low cost of living and the richness of sites that look great on the silver screen.

During the luncheon, one of the major talking points will be how competitive the industry is. To remain competitive, Plainview erected oil wells. The Russos are only asking for a soundstage.

“We would love to see a permanent studio and production facility developed in Cleveland,” Anthony says. “Most people probably don’t realize how much of a movie is shot on a stage.”

If the region had one, Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man would have all been here last summer.

“We knew we could have taken Civil War to Cleveland if it had a studio,” Anthony says. “But it didn’t, so we had to go to Atlanta.”

At least we have the Nicolas Cage movie, Dog Eat Dog, shooting here until the end of November. WKYC caught up with one of the film’s producer’s, Mark Burman, fawned over the city.

"I'm telling you Cleveland is the next Louisiana," Burman told the news outlet. " People are wonderful here."

“To me it still feels like it’s moving in the right direction,” Anthony adds. “[The film commission] is building on the successes they’ve had and figuring out how to expand and move forward. That’s a great place to be.”

By John Hitch

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