About a year ago FilmDayton made a set visit with some City of Dayton workers down to Loveland, to observe the filming of Mercy. Executive Producer Karri O’Reilly, who is also a board member of FilmDayton showed us around the set, including the small bar they took over where Ellen Page was filming a scene, an alley where craft services had set up, around the block where the costume, make up and artist trailers where parked and so much more. The purpose of that visit was to show firsthand the impact a film can have on the local economy.
Tonight that film, now titled My Days of Mercy, is the focus of a Gala at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film stars Oscar nominee Ellen Page as Lucy, the daughter of a man on death row. She and her sister Martha (Amy Seimetz) are regular attendees at state executions across the Midwest, where they demonstrate in favor of abolishing the death penalty. At one such event, Lucy spots and eventually falls for Mercy (Kate Mara), daughter of a police officer whose partner was killed by a man about to receive a lethal injection. Mercy is there to celebrate justice served.
This is the fourth film made by NY production company Killer Films in Ohio. “What initially brought us there was the state tax incentive,” said David Hinojosa, the company’s head of production and development. “It was very attractive.” The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit provides a tax credit of 30 percent on production cast and crew wages plus other eligible in-state expenses. Killer leveraged the Ohio tax program by hiring a majority of its production crew from the region instead of bringing workers from out of state.
O’Reilly explains that while the film was based in Cincinnati, due to the geographic closeness of our cities, a film being made in the region is a win for FilmDayton. Whether it’s hiring crew or using local vendors, the Dayton and Cincinnati markets often overlap and that helps the Miami Valley, which is just starting to establish its film commission.
When a film like Mercy debuts at a major festival, O’Reilly explains that “it means lots of good recognition” for Ohio. Area films are repeatedly showing up at the major film festivals. The Killing of a Sacred Deer starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman debuted at Canne this year. In 2016 three Ohio films debuted at Sundance: Goat (which O’Reilly co-produced), The Land and The Fits.
These movies mean jobs and money for our region. The Mercy spend was about $225,000 and the recent Robert Redford that shot for 2 days in downtown Dayton spent over $8000 with the City of Dayton for police services and parking, $7000 on hotel rooms at the UD Marriott, hired over 100 extras and had a crew of 75, used a local dry cleaner, bought late night pizzas from Marion’s Piazza and became repeat customers at Table 33. Crew payroll added even more to the local spend.
FilmDayton works to bring these jobs to town that pay well, are mainly union positions which means benefits and pensions for our local filmmakers. “Being able to offer Wright State University motion picture students hands on experience in their chosen career field is a real benefit to the region,” shares FilmDayton’s Lisa Grigsby, “and and go along way to keeping young, talented filmmakers in our community. We don’t receive any funds from the productions we work to bring to town, we depend on contributions, and sponsorships from those that understand the economic impact these productions have on our town. You can help keep the spotlight on the Miami Valley by making a contribution, volunteering your house, office or property to be added to our location database or volunteering for FilmDayton.”