Headlines this week referenced a New York City production company borrowing $675,000 from the City of Youngstown for a film production, and many of you have expressed some questions regarding the details of the project and it’s funding.
City council is set to consider the full proposal, outlined this past Wednesday, no sooner than May 2nd. The film is a thriller starring Mickey Rourke, and tells the story of a psychiatrist who has to beat the clock against an escaped patient who’s created a hostage situation in a remote house.
The majority of concerns being expressed seem to deal with the funding being provided for this project.
The $675,000 float loan is the third loan the city is considering over the 12 months for film productions in the city. The program being used for this funding is managed through the Youngstown Economic Development Division, a municipal department that exists to encourage existing businesses, new businesses, and businesses interested in relocating to Youngstown to invest in the City and create or retain jobs.
The program is typically utilized by companies who are planning construction projects, but there are no restrictions on what type of industry this loan program is restricted to. There is a thorough application process, with safeguards in place to ensure that the city assumes zero financial risk in facilitating these projects.
To even be considered for a loan, the company presenting the project must secure an irrevocable letter of credit from a bank guaranteeing the full amount of the loan. This means that no matter what happens with the movie, or how it ultimately performs, the terms of the loan are 100% guaranteed.
The Economic Development Division refers to the program as one of their “most lucrative tools”.
This project is the third being decided on over the past year. The first two were approved, but it’s very important to recognize the work and contributions from within the city that helped make that happen.
These opportunities are the result of the efforts of Fred D’Amico, Director of the Youngstown Warren Regional Film Commission, with help and support coming from former Director of Downtown Events and Special Projects Michael McGiffen, as well as 4th Ward Councilman Mike Ray.
The first completed project that came through was part of a viral YouTube series produced by MadMedia, which brought $300,000 in spending within the city over the course of the week.
The second was a dramatic thriller titled “Them That Follow”, with a proposal outlining hiring of 221 state residents with a payroll of $834,840, while bringing $200,000 in spending within the city of Youngstown, and $500,000 in the Valley, over the course of its two months of production.
This translates to a local program that has helped to secure $1.25 million dollars in short term arts funding as a fully guaranteed loan, that’s successfully generated over $1.5 million dollars in spending here in the Valley, translating to upwards of $4 million dollars in additional economic activity in just over two and a half months, and that is substantial.
Fred D’Amico and the Film Commission are dedicated to the future they’re creating. Recently, while attending the annual American Filmmaker’s Conference in California, he spent a lot of time talking about the area, working to secure more projects, and he certainly isn’t the only one talking. The State of Ohio has applications for tax credits to four production companies with plans in the Valley this year – including one company with roots in Canfield.
“A lot of people in film feel it’s just about the project. For us, it’s about a long-term relationship with the city. We’re trying to build a career and an infrastructure to do many films. Even industries as far as grip trucks and other equipment and skilled laborers, that’s what we’re looking to build. This is the first of many. This is the catalyst for the entire future we’re trying to have.” – Brandon Villano, Producer and Canfield graduate
D’Amico keeps working to bring even more to the table, creating a local industry database of talent and crew, providing training and workshops to increase those listings, and even facilitating local talent with the resources of the Screen Actor’s Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) via a Youngstown location for Pittsburgh’s Nancy Mosser Casting. On a national scale, the film industry is responsible for $40 billion dollars in economic activity, has created 70,000 jobs since 2014, and it’s about time we took advantage of that.
Individuals interested in more information on the Youngstown Warren Regional Film Commission, or in being listed within their database, can reach them directly at 330-406-9992, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at www.filmyoungstown.com