REEL NEO - inventing a new economy around film in NEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 02/28/2006 - 22:37.

The February 28, 2006 Excellence Roundtable on the film industry was unique. One local film maker at the roundtable explained this was the first time he had sat down with the industry.

For an outsider, like myself - a fan of film and an economic development professional who recognized the broad value of the film industry - this roundtable was a thrill in that we had so much talent in the room - accomplished film professionals who have shown in the world's festivals and distribute product globally. These successful artists are invisible (often struggling) entrepreneurs in this community, and this was the first time I'd met nearly every one.

In addition to film makers, we had representatives of K-12 public and higher education, technology, the Screen Actors Guild, urban planning, East Cleveland, real estate development, the Cleveland Museum and Cinematheque film programs, the non-profit film community, Voices and Choices and the film commission, to name some interesting perspectives in dialog.

Knowing the attendence would be so diverse, we planned the roundtable as a world cafe of four tables, each discussing film and either arts/culture, economy, education, or technology. But, as the roundtable got under way, it was actually so comfortable for the group to speak openly across the room, in a collaboration of over 30 like-interested professionals, that we brainstormed in one big dialog.

The flow was remarkably organic, starting with one film maker in one corner of the room introducing himself to the group -  Jon Shick - Blue Hole Productions - grew up in Cleveland and moved away, and then boomeranged back a year and a half ago - produced "Citizen Hauser", which was recently on WVIZ, and look forward to making more films in Cleveland - growing their studio here.

From there we were introduced to his co-boomeranged partner, Ryan Rodriguez, and then Laura Paglin, just back from Sundance. Laura and Blue Hole represent two leaders of the film industry here that are succeeding, doing very different work, coming from different directions, pursuing different types of outcomes - they have different needs.

Next after Laura came Bernadette Gillota, director of Independent Pictures (IP) and a film maker, who has been active in all aspect of the industry in NEO for years and is fiscal agent for Blue Hole for "Citizen Hauser" - a service IP offers film makers around the country. And we had our first valuable connection clear in the room.

Next up was Director of Cinematheque and the Cleveland Museum film Program John Ewing, who brought an entirely different aspect of the industry to light - John helps make certain NEO has a steady flow of the world's best film so that we have the exposure to inspiration - it was clear he feels a desire and responsibility to help local film makers gain exposure - it is not his mission to do that, but if he may he will.

I'll complete these notes to the best of my ability tomorrow and will appreciate anyone's help filling in gaps and adding clarity. For now, feel free to post to this as a comment, add a child page, and go to the "Film Forums" to explore specific ideas surfaced during this roundtable.