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Toledo's film industry on the rise

The executive director of FilmToledo says a combination of talented new artists and Ohio's strong tax breaks for filmmakers are pushing the medium locally.

TOLEDO, Ohio — For decades, the dream of making a movie was only possible in a few cities across the U.S. But since the passage of the Ohio motion picture tax credit in 2009, cities across the Buckeye state have started seeing the rise of their own film industries, and Toledo is no exception.

"What we're trying to do is get a piece of that pie, as far as Ohio is concerned, and it's a very small industry right now, but it's really growing," said Michael DeSanto, the executive director of FilmToledo, the Glass City's Film Commission. 

DeSanto says right now Toledo is a long way from competing with Hollywood - the goal is to someday compete with Dayton - but the growth he's seeing is exciting. He says that for the first time ever, local artists have been releasing content that can compete with bigger markets.

"Actually the most recent one that was getting some attention was a good friend of mine, Vanessa Leonard," DeSanto said. "She had her film 'A Story Worth Living,' and that went around the international film festival circuit."

More major projects are coming to Toledo as well. DeSanto was directly involved in bringing the upcoming Tom Hanks project "A Man Called Otto" to shoot for a day at Toledo's Amtrak station.

"That was like a $60 million film, and just one day of that film brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars for companies," DeSanto said.

With the productions getting a 30% refund thanks to the Ohio tax credit, it's a win-win for Hollywood and Toledo. 

While DeSanto says the area still needs more studio space, talent and trained crew before it can truly be competitive, more opportunities to grow are coming soon, with two new mystery projects coming to Toledo this fall.

"They are multi-million dollar productions," DeSanto said. "I can't say too much about it, but that is going to be bringing in a lot of money for the local economy."


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