In a lot of ways, Cincinnati’s relationship with the film industry mirrors our overall cultural identity across the past 30 or 40 years. Back in the 1980s and ’90s we were happy to oblige the occasional Hollywood crew who wanted to use city buildings and streets as stand-ins for old, rundown parts of New York City and Chicago. Hey, at least they noticed us for something!
There were a few nice rewards for Cincinnatians in those days, like the Rain Man toothpick scene in Pompilio’s or Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman driving along Columbia Parkway (“97X, bam! The future of rock and roll!”). We could tell our college friends or out-of-town relatives that was our city and our favorite radio station. Otherwise we didn’t really claim ownership of the grungy, gritty visuals filmed here for Little Man Tate, A Rage in Harlem, Lost in Yonkers, or Eight Men Out. In essence, we stood in for Anywhere, U.S.A.
Today, however, Cincinnati’s old-fashioned urban architecture is now “historic,” our colloquialisms are “quirky,” our flyover country location is “authentic,” and our film community is an “economic engine.” Thanks to the tireless work of Kristen Schlotman and her Film Cincinnati organization, more and more people are able to live here and work in the film production industry as a career. As you’ll read in “Cincinnati on Film,” this region has emerged as a favorite location for filmmakers due to both the state of Ohio’s film tax credit program (which Schlotman wants increased) and the quality of local production talent they can hire.
When you think about the top actors who have come here to make movies in the past 10 years or so, the awareness switch has certainly flipped: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Don Cheadle, Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Robert Redford, Emilio Estevez, Zac Efron, Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Timothée Chalamet, and Robert De Niro. All we’re missing is one of those comic-book blockbusters that come to town and blow everything up.
The city has grown from Anywhere, U.S.A., to Cincinnati, U.S.A., in the past few decades. And in large part we have the movies to thank.