The film industry in Cincinnati has seen a great deal of momentum in recent years. We've played host to casts and crews for numerous major films, including stars like Robert Redford, Zac Efron and Bruce Willis. The local screen scene is growing, and it's no random occurrence. Our region has a deep history of fostering creativity and support for the arts. Local groups are building upon that solid foundation, directing creative energies toward the silver screen.
Film Cincinnati, previously known as the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission, has stepped up their long-time efforts to create an insatiable appetite for film in Cincinnati. Through direct outreach to studios, lobbying efforts to create a favorable business environment for the industry and more, they've helped our region catapult in the last few years as a destination for film production. "We believe this is just the beginning," says Kristen Erwin, executive director of Film Cincinnati. "We know we will be a world class destination for all things production in the very near future."
Not only are world-class filmmakers visiting our region for work, they are training people, moving here and creating amazing new opportunities. Hundreds of film-related jobs are cropping up as a result. The quality of work and talent coming out of Cincinnati has the film industry's attention. Filmmakers are not only choosing Cincinnati for specific projects, they are returning for sometimes a second, third or even a slate of films. This is a testament not just to the the economic benefits and native scenery of our region, but to the large and growing network of creative professionals we can boast.
D. Lynn Meyers, producing artistic director of Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, is also a casting director and member of the Casting Society of America. Meyers, a native Cincinnatian, lived in L.A. before returning (one of many boomeranging Cincinnatians) to the local arts scene. She has cast at least 15 films in the last year. "Films can't be made on scenery alone," Meyers says. Thanks to her unique background and programs like Ensemble Theatre's Apprentice Program — which hires young actors immediately out of college for a year, at least 50% of whom make Cincinnati their home — she's helped develop a cadre of talented, professional stage actors in our region. These actors, along with the multitude of talent on stage all over the Greater Cincinnati region, are ready and willing to make the leap from stage to screen. The job of casting films in this area, as a result, gets much easier.
Meyers remembers a conversation about casting "The Old Man and the Gun," Robert Redford's final film before his retirement, in which the crew were seeking talent with a precise description in mind. Without a doubt, they believed a nationwide search would be in order to fill two specific roles. Her response? "I have them." The talent pool in Greater Cincinnati is wide, strong, and diverse. That community of local creative professionals is growing, and the attractiveness of Greater Cincinnati to film producers can only increase as a result.
ArtsWave is proud to not only have provided support to organizations like Film Cincinnati and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, but to have helped shape the creative foundation upon which the recent uptick in local film production has been built. Because film is a universally popular and highly accessible medium, a robust film industry can draw national attention to our region, putting Cincinnati on the map — one of the key outcomes of ArtsWave's Blueprint for Collective Action for the Arts Sector. That's why we've supported and continue to support film-based organizations and projects like the recent OTR International Film Festival, Cindependent Film Festival, the Golden Lion Awards, Black Folks Make Movies, The Mini Microcinema and more. In the same vein, our film scene fosters a sense of pride and opportunity in the region, attracting talent and deepening the roots of residents.