Movie makers falling in love with Cleveland, more movies to be filmed here

CLEVELAND - Ohio tax credits have certainly put Cleveland on the map for making big budget blockbusters, but there's more to the story than that. Movie makers are falling in love with our city.

It's gritty and pretty. Welcome to Hollywood on the north coast. You already know The Avengers movie will be made in Cleveland.

Now, the head of the Greater Cleveland Film Commssion said to expect more good news in the days to come.

Ivan Schwarz, Executive Director of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, said he's close to lining up two more movies to be made in Cleveland. But can't announce the films until the deals are signed.

"There's nothing you can't shoot here for a movie background or scenery other than mountains and desert." said Schwarz.

Schwarz scouted movie locations for films in Los Angeles before becoming the head of the Cleveland's Film Commission, and he's on a roll using his Hollywood contacts to bring movie productions to a very photographic Cleveland.

Drama is playing out in his office overlooking a Cleveland courtyard that resembles a movie set in Manhattan because Schwarz is so close to announcing two more movies coming to Cleveland.

"We are we're waiting for approval for two more projects but I can't talk about them until it's a done deal," he said.

Movie stars walking our streets is cool, but more importantly Schwarz said "this is about jobs and economic development this is about spending money on our local goods and services and vendors."

Besides busy hotels and restaurants, crew members and extras will be hired. And new businesses will be created that support the movie industry in Cleveland. 

Streat Mobile Bistro & Production Catering owner Izzy Schachner hired eight professional chefs and can feed 800 cast and crew members out of his bistro on wheels.

The name of his company is a play on the words "treat" and "street." Schachner said he plans to cater for crews on location of upcoming movies being filmed in Cleveland.

Other entrepreneurs want to be part of the action.

"Grip companies are moving to Cleveland, post production companies are moving to Cleveland and ours is a brand new company," Schachner said.

As I worked on this story, I couldn't help but think of a location for shooting movie scenes. I've always been drawn to East 6th and Vincent in downtown Cleveland with its treasure of hidden alleys and narrow bending side streets that are begging to be filmed.

Cleveland is gritty and pretty, a movie makers favorite combination. 

"You have those bridges, draw bridges that are wonderful, I didn't know Cleveland was this beautiful until I came to photograph it." said filmmaker James Marshall, who is in town from Santa Monica, California, getting shots for a reality television show about lawyers.

His eye is drawn to not only downtown.

"Like out in Lake County, you can be anywhere in America, so this area has the urban scenes for big city shots and the beautiful green areas outside of Cleveland," said Marshall.

Growing up in northeast Ohio, I'm excited about the momentum Cleveland is building in the movie industry. It's thrilling, actually, and I get the impression talking to people in the movie business that filming in Cleveland is pure magic -- not just because of tax credits that save movie makers money and the variety of scenic locations, but saying you're making a movie in Cleveland just sounds and feels more real compared to an L.A. back lot.

If there's one thing Cleveland is not, is fake. Movie makers like the authenticity of our town's architecture and designs of bridges in The Flats and historic churches.

Schwarz, who moved to Cleveland from L.A., fell in love with this town of hard workers and doesn't mind the winters that make us tougher. He said another bonus for movie makers is that Cleveland has the infrastructure of a city built for a million people, which it was in 1950.

Unfortunately, the population has dropped, but it means Cleveland doesn't have nearly the congestion of bigger cities and yet offers the amenities of Playhouse Square, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, professional stadiums, House of Blues, world class medical centers, orchestra, the arts and the list goes on. 

I've said it before, it's easy to take our town for granted, but maybe we just need to take a look through the eyes of a movie maker and then we can appreciate what is hidden in plain sight on the shores of Lake Erie.

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