Collaborative Behaviors can strengthen NEO film industry

Submitted by Betsey Merkel on Thu, 02/02/2006 - 00:05.

Networked Creative Industries Build Innovating Regions

Alex Michaels (Prelude2Cinema) lead our forum this evening begining with a call to action: we can benefit by working together to strengthen our NEO film industry. Alex suggested we place renewed value on some important behaviors: the value of being adaptable, having a clear vision that is inclusive of others and sharing resources with others so everyone can benefit. The Knight film incubator initiative will be a co-operative effort everyone will benefit from.

Tasteful value placement in cinema was another topic of conversation. These are strategically well placed paid for commercial items. We are unaccustomed to seeing product placement in independent films; but we do see this approach to commerce in commercial film. Alex has applied product placement to the independent films - an entrepreneurial trend just beginning. Alex reminded us to think about the long list of credits at the end of every movie: each name represents a job. Prelude2Cinema also hires local talent and does not rely on out-of-state labor.

Chris Carmody (Cleveland Film Commision) provided an update of the Cleveland Film Commission's mission and activity. The Film Commission is a Northeast Ohio support organization that helps to market Cleveland to out-of-state movie production companies encouraging them to shoot in Cleveland. Chris also helps to facilitate logistics and talent when companies come into town.

NEO has huge assets: actors, buildings, facility and arts patrons such as Cleveland entrepreneur, Dave Perkowski. Dave is a Cleveland developer who has renovated facility space to support local artists. Chris reminded us competition is stiff with other states offering significant incentives. Chris's network has advocated and lobbied for additional supportive legislature to strengthen the use of tax dollars as incentives.

Summary & Next Steps: The region can benefit by creating a collaborative, engaged, diverse NEO film industry. We need to identify resources at our colleges and universities, locate scattered individual efforts and improve collaboration capabilities and alignment. REALNEO has offered to create a Tuesday Roundtable (City Club) to support ongoing efforts to strengthen NEO's existing film industry and engage others around next steps for Knight Studio's incubator. If you are interested in participating take a look at the PDF attachment, or email: alexmichaels [at] prelude2cinema [dot] com

BeinginvolvedinShowBusinessinCl.pdf85.27 KB
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RealNEO plans to continue I-Open's discussion at a Roundtable

Betsey, that was a great forum about the current situation and how to work toward getting the best outcomes for independent film making in Cleveland.  RealNEO is planning to continue the discussion that the I-Open forum started, within a month. 


Recently, I asked local independent film makers from Blue Hole Productions to do a RealNEO Excellence Roundtable on film making in Cleveland.  They were interested but wanted others to contribute to the discussion.


The I-Open forum was a wonderful opportunity to network with the attendees and invite them to participate at the Roundtable.  During the networking session, after the I-Open Forum, there were a lot of good ideas about what should be discussed and who should participate, although the Roundtable is always open to everyone. 


Some of the ideas would be to do an inventory of independent film makers in the region; the schools, organizations and agencies that offer equipment, facilities, training programs and support to film makers.  We need to discuss how Cleveland could capitalize on its film making resources to create sucessful incubators and outcomes.


Once again, this demonstrates how I-Open and RealNEO are collaborating to make positive changes in the region by promoting openess and trust, with anyone who wants  to participate.

It was great to talk to you

It was great to talk to you Ed. I am looking forward to the Roundtables and moving forward.


Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

I enjoyed this event

Great job Betsey,

I enjoyed the last I-Open event.  As a result of coming to your program I will able to assist one of the members in CAAO with a project he is working on.

Digital Movie Info from Fast Company

Found some great info on the Digital revolution in the business magazine Fast Company

It is definitely worth reading. Today I looked at some space

in Midtown. Definitely possibilities there.  


Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

What are your space requirements?

Thanks for posting the excellent link - the article really shows how heavy the IT folks are in the entertainment industry. Amazing to read Sin City was shot entirely on blue screen with digital background - now I need to rent it again.


If "film" is now digital then a production studio becomes a soundstage with a big bluescreen and a massive datacenter with huge computers.


I read one of the animation companies in California made a partnership with HP to use the off-peak and excess clustered computing power of the entire HP global enterprise to power their animation rendering - entertainment has become big money for the IT industry, and the IT sector in NEO can benefit from growth here.


So what type of facilities do you need? 

Shooting Digital and Space requirements

Rodriguez is one of my heroes and a good model. I do shoot somethings on location, but  a soundstage with a blue (or green screen) is very flexible. I was looking at some space today. I need around 5,000 sq ft with a ceiling height of at least 14 ft.

 I did want to create some "standing sets" and a few digital ones.

IT has competely given freedom to the entire industry.  


Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

How do IdeaStream and OneCleveland fit in?

I looked at your wiki at and it appears you are open to various locations and operating models. With the amount of space vacant in NEO and the flexibility of your needs it shouldn't be hard to find a low cost space. At the high end, it would seem IdeaStream's new facility should be part of our regional strategy... how does that fit in?


A sense of the potential of the film cluster comes into sight upon considering our world-class new IdeaStream facilities and the success of OneCleveland in attracting local economic development funding and tapping into world-leading organizations for support, funds, equipment and recognition.They will be great partners , as a "film" industry will create content and require computing power and bandwidth. I look forward to discussing all this further at the roundtable on the 28th.


In preparation, is there a business plan for the proposed incubator? 

The Studio Incubator has a Business Plan

I do have a business plan for the Incubator. I am refining it now with  a lot of help. Betsey and others at i-open  are helping me now. I have a lot of resources to pull from. I'm also learning a lot from conversing here with you on Realneo. I want to make sure the Studio is inclusive and a benefit to the needs of the community.


I looked at some space in the Tyler Industrial Park. It has the right feel and price for the Studio needs. Besides Graystone Properties has rented to local filmmakers before and to Hollywood when they came to town.


"At the high end, it would seem IdeaStream's new facility should be part of our regional strategy... how does that fit in?"


Often Producers utilize different locations when shooting. A movie or TV production will often shoot in real locations, and more than one studio. So a place like Ideastream can be used by producers. The design of the place is one someone can learn from as well.


I just read that One Cleveland is changing its name to OneCommunity because its range has moved outside of just Cleveland. That is a great thing.


The delivery of content to the consumers is being factored into the Studio Incubator. I have used Google video to watch movies. I also have some clips of my TV series on google video. While google does have it set up where you can charge consumers for this, I don't think a "tiny" TV show can command the numbers needed for profitability.  People will download and pay for shows like "Lost," but that show is very unique in terms of its fans and appeal. Google of course gets a percentage of sales if you charge consumers for video.


I would rather work with OneCleveland (aka OneCommunity) and keep the income here. Ideally I think it would be great to create a complete Internet TV Station out of Cleveland.  The bandwith is a necessary part of this. But it is possible. People are comfortable watching video on their computers as long as it looks as smoothly as their TVs. And the good thing would be, the ability to watch a show whenever the audience wants to (after it is produced) Being online, prodcuers can also create a show that viewers can interact with it.


Right now, I am crunching the figures on the exact specifics of the Studio Incubator business plan. Now that I have my figures for exact space, I am collecting other things, like platform needs for the production of the content my company will produce. And we can also gather content from other filmmakers around town (and also around the world). Hollywood only picks up movies they think will be blockbusters because their business model can't be profitable with a "small" movie.


With the Studio Business Plan, I do have a lot of the elements together, I just have to remain focused on keeping the business model where the operations and productions do not cost so much that it is hard to reach profitability.


That right now, is Hollywood's problem. For example, the last Star Trek TV series wasn't cancelled because its fans left. Iit was cancelled because it was too expensive to produce. And there was a show called "Joan of Arcadia" that had about 8 million viewers, but it seems that isn't enough.  And as for movies. When your budget is $100 million... Well, you get the idea.


I don't have the business plan on the Wiki because I am working out the details and there is not a need to make public every element of it. So right now, it seems the model is more open than it is. I have been making some decisions on the focus of the Studio.  It can't do everything.  A large part of the Studio Incubator  is making sure it helps the creation of the film industry here.


So, I have been refining the focus of the Incubator. It's important to keep it just down to the essentials to start with so I don't put myself in the same hole as Hollywood where I need every production to be a blockbuster.


 I have talked to William of CAAO and Betsey of i-open and they said I should keep it "small." I agree. There is room for growth, but to get the Studio doors open, I am boiling the business plan down to the essentials.


Right now I'm working on the "critical mass" factor and the time is definitely right. I just have to finalize the details. Like you said, there is a ton of space in NEO. So now that I have found some I like, I just have to decide a few more elements. Once I have those done, then, they'll be on the Wiki.



Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

Digital shooting saves space

Found another article on "Sin City" from the Hollywood Reporter

 It also talks about how the line gets blurred between jobs when making a movie in this fashion.

From the article

THR: You shot the whole movie onstage?
Rodriguez: Yeah, on one very little stage. I can't even believe it when I look at it -- it's a 40-by-40-foot area of green. We shot using hot-rodded Sony 950 (digital cameras). We have kind of a double system so that, since you're shooting on a greenscreen, if you need to turn around suddenly and, say, shoot the other side of a conversation, you don't turn the camera -- you just turn the actors, (and) you have another set of keylights already set up on the other side. ... I remember this Mickey Rourke scene: I started with a side-shot, wide-angle view of him, and I could tell he was just giving me the performance, right then. I said, "Screw this wide stuff; I'm going to close-up." So all we do is roll him around, and we have our other lights there, and those come up -- right into an eyeline close-up."



Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

Amazing the tech in film

Very cool, Alex - makes it realistic to do film production here.

Blog to chart Studio Progress

I started a blog here to chart the Studio progress

I'd appreciate some insight on the specifics for the Studio. I plan to follow a lot of the techniques and ideas used by Robert Rodriguez with his studio.


Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

Any news on the Roundtable

Just wondering if there was any news on the agenda for the round table.


Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

Film world cafe

We have such a strong list of area people interested in the topic that I think it more useful to hold a "world cafe" rather than forum. In this format, we'll have four tables of 10-12 people, with each table designated to talk within the table about one of the following:

  1. Optimizing film and area arts and culture
  2. Optimizing film and area education
  3. Optimizing film and area technology
  4. Optimizing film and area economy

In this way, we are not focusing on a short list of personal agendas, but facilitating open group brainstorms on core components of a sustainable film ecosystem in NEO.

Following brief introductory comments and facilitation pointers, we'll want each group to spend 45 minutes (including lunch) at their tables identifying initiatives that may be pursued to improve outcomes in their topic area, and the last 45 minutes will be spent reporting to the broader group on the initiatives surfaced, for collaborative discussions. Next steps will arise from what sparks individuals' and groups' interests.

The objective is to bring together enough of the right people, in an informal but structured environment, to share specific ideas in key topical areas, in the pursuit of actionable initiatives that will make NEO a world-class film community.

We are the World of Film

Sounds different, but good in that you are working to include as many people as possible. Definitely count me in. So when and where does the "World" meet?


Alex P. Michaels

Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

NEO World o' Film at City Club Feb 28

We'll work on the format and attendee list over the next week. But the roundtable will take place at the City Club of Cleveland - mingle from 11:30 AM to 12 PM - lunch and world cafe through 12:45 PM - discussion and next steps through 1:30 PM. Details to post to REALNEO and spread by email.

I'd like to add to Film and area economy

I'd like to be a part of "4. Optimizing film and area economy" Although the other elements are definitely important, I feel I can add something to this one. I  often focus on the BUSINESS side of Show Business. The Distribution equation is key to gaining an income from the creative products that come out of a film industry. I have some ideals on how this can be achieved as well. My mentor Joseph Marshall Parnell who works in the Cleveland Public Library Business dept. and is the  Screen Actors Guild Rep. He can add a lot as well. He has a great insight to the business.   I've also been working with i-open. Recently they helped me with some budget details before a meeting. I still have some details to work out, but things are moving in the right direction. Again, just some thoughts. I think it is great that you are organizing this which brings attention to the need for a film industry here. Sincerely, Alex P. Michaels Building the Knight Movie Studio Incubator


I thought your interest would be the economy

That's exactly what I expected. We'll get some guidelines together over the next few days - I'll be in touch and update planning here.