Then: In 1995, CityBeat profiled the Cincinnati Film Commission and several local filmmakers who were working hard to keep the city on the celluloid map. Cincinnati had taken a major hit — we'd been scouted to the teeth for the then-upcoming blockbuster Batman Forever, only to be disappointed when Joel Schmacher decided against using real locations in his film and instead chose to re-create Union Terminal on a soundstage via blueprints. "At the Cincinnati Film Commission," reported Steve Ramos, "the slump continues. A planned project with director Ernest Dickerson fell through at the last minute. Rumors of Kevin Costner's new movie shooting here locally are unconfirmed." (Issue of Oct. 26, 1995)
Now: Perhaps not being associated with Costner wasn't such a bad thing. Cincinnati is seeing a lot of film activity in the 21st Century, according to Kristen Erwin, executive director of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission. She ticks off the projects that have made the area a part of their plans. "Seabiscuit; Elizabethtown with Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst and Susan Sarandon; Mr. 3000 shot last summer; and Dreamer, Dreamworks' new film starring Kurt Russell just wrapped," Erwin explains. "Oh, and Jimmy and Judy is shooting here and in Burlington.
That's the Ed Furlong thing."
Ah yes. The lobsters.
Erwin thinks the area is seeing a lot of big-screen activity because Kentucky is such a hotbed for horses — Seabiscuit, Dreamers and Jimmy and Judy are all horse films. "One of the writers for Jimmy and Judy is from Burlington," she states. "So he had a lot of personal contacts locally."
Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky will soon be showing up a lot more on the small screen as well. A bevy of reality television shows have shot episodes locally, including The Mansion, now airing on TBS/Turner.
Erwin took the job of commission director nearly three years ago and says that "this year has been the busiest. I think it's the momentum. We didn't see a lot of production after 1995 because other countries offered (U.S. production companies) tax incentives to shoot there. Ohio doesn't offer those." Well, not yet. Erwin reports that lobbying efforts are in place to allow Ohio and other states to offer tax incentives for companies that shoot in their area. "It wasn't just in Cincinnati, it was all over the U.S.," she explains.
Erwin hopes the local industry has turned a corner. "We just had auditions for The Apprentice," she says, "and Queer Eye for the Straight Girl. They want to cast the new 'Fab 3' out of Cincinnati."
"I can't complain," Erwin says before she scurries on location, making sure everyone has what they need. "It's been great."
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