Homegrown movies

Local film scene is thriving despite setbacks

By Columbus Alive
From the Homegrown movies edition

It's Oscars week, and we've got movies on the brain.

Like most pop-culture obsessives, we're wondering how many statuettes "The Social Network" will rack up and whether Natalie Portman will avoid an upset in the Best Actress race.

But as Hollywood's biggest night approaches, we're also curious about the film projects emerging from this city. Who makes movies in Columbus, anyway? And what kind of movies are they making?

As an institution, Ohio's film industry is in flux. Gov. John Kasich's administration asked Ohio Film Office Director Jeremy Henthorn and Production Coordinator Jason Kovak to step down in January, bringing the office's role - attracting outside filmmakers and hooking them up with locations, staffing and resources - under the wing of the Division of Tourism.

"If we're doing our job right, we're going to be able to help folks connect," said State Tourism Director Amir Eylon.

However, Henthorn, the former Film Office director, doubts the Division of Tourism will have the time or resources to proactively attract outside filmmakers the way he and Novak did.

"It really is a full-time job," Henthorn said. "We were overwhelmed."

A tax credit for studios making movies in Ohio was signed into law in 2009 and remains available through the 2011 fiscal year, but Henthorn said he expects most major studios will wait until the credit comes up for renewal to consider Ohio for future projects.

While Ohio's role as a filmmakers' destination may be in jeopardy, the homegrown movie industry here in Columbus is abuzz with projects of various stripes, bolstered by local organizations like the Greater Columbus Film Commission.

This city's cinematic ranks are trying their hands at everything from full-length features to shorts to TV series to hip-hop musicals. One group of ambitious young cinephiles is even launching a $50,000 fundraising campaign to make a movie exclusively with Ohio-based resources.

Most of these talents are focused on banding together as Ohioans to create a fertile local film industry with or without help from Hollywood.

We decided to meet some of these creative minds and let them tell us about their projects. Who knows? Some of these folks could be on the red carpet sooner than you think.

Learn more:

Greater Columbus Film Commission

filmcolumbus.com