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FilmDayton's rebirth as Dayton's film commission could mean millions

FilmDayton has been reborn as the Dayton's official film commission, and that could mean big dollars.  

The change discussed at a FilmDayton board member retreat in December and a follow-up meeting in January was a long time coming, and done in the name of economic development, Lisa Grigsby, FilmDayton’s executive director since July, told Dayton.com.

The film industry has made it rain in Ohio due to state tax incentives used to recruit filmmakers.

Since 2011, 31 projects have received the credit, resulting in $117 million spent in the buckeye state, according to information FilmDayton provided.   

“Cincinnati and Cleveland are getting the lion’s share, and Dayton needed to come to the table,” said Grigsby, who was recently certified with the Association of Film Commissioners International.

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As a result of the refocus, FilmDayton’s annual film festival will be shelved until 2017. The Sundog Film Festival, which celebrates high school students in the media arts, will resume this fall after a one-year hiatus in 2015.

“We had to recruit some new champions for that,” Grigsby said.

She explained that FilmDayton had been over-programmed and stretched.

Since its start 8 years ago, there have been 80 Film Connections social gatherings for filmmakers and film lovers, as well as numerous bootcamps, training sessions, monthly networking sessions and education meetings.  

The new commission will continue some of its educational components, but will focus mainly on promoting film work here.

“The more of that work we can bring here, the more people we can put to work,” she said. “A lot of what we will be doing is being a marketing arm for the region and promoting our locations.”

Grigsby plans seek public and private dollars for the push.

She pointed out that Cleveland’s film commission receives money from both that city and Cuyahoga County. Cincinnati receives money from the city and private funders.  

Archive photo: The film "Carol" was film in Cincinnati and used many Dayton area actors as extras.

The commission’s birth will be celebrated during a special screening of the movie "Miles Ahead" on Thursday, April 21 at The Neon for FilmDayton supporters and board members. The event is invitation-only.

"Miles Ahead" was partly filmed in in the former Dayton City Jail and at Refraze Recording Studio in Kettering.

That film had an Ohio payroll of $2.2 million, according to statistics FilmDayton collected.

The 2015 film "Carol" was filmed in Cincinnati and used numerous Dayton area residents as extra. It had an Ohio payroll of $4 million. About $400,000 of that money was spent in Montgomery County.

"It will have a huge impact on a lot of our entrepreneurs,” Grigsby said of Dayton’s film industry. She noted that dry cleaners, car services and caterers are among those who will benefit.

Like UpDayton, FilmDayton is an offshoot of DaytonCREATE, a community-based initiative that used principles promoted by urban researcher Richard Florida, the author of the book “The Rise of the Creative Class.” Florida visited Dayton in 2008.

The groups worked to reduce the city’s brain drain of young and talented.

Pointing to the Tom Hanks Motion Pictures Center at Wright State University as an example, Grigsby said many Dayton residents would be surprised by the number of local residents who make a living in the film industry.

“We have a huge group of talented people here,” she said, noting that the commission will work to keep those people in the region by growing the film industry here.  

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