Ohio's Tax Incentive Brings 'White Boy Rick,' Matthew McConaughey to Cleveland

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There have been Matthew McConaughey sightings around Northeast Ohio throughout the last several weeks while he films the movie “White Boy Rick.” The actor took in an Indians game and went bowling at Mahall’s in Lakewood while off set.

“White Boy Rick” is based on the real-life story of a Detroit teenager sentenced to life in prison for dealing drugs. While set in 1980s Detroit, the movie has been shot around Cleveland because of Ohio’s Motion Picture Tax Credit.

“Hollywood for the last 15 years or so has engaged in what we call 'chasing the rebate,” said executive producer Georgia Kacandes.

Michigan used to offer a “rebate” or incentive for filming there but ended its program in 2015.

Ohio’s incentive brought “White Boy Rick” to Northeast Ohio.

“It is the most important thing,” Kacandes said.

This movie is eligible to receive $9,042,716, which is the biggest incentive from Ohio to date. The movie’s total production budget is about $45 million, according to its application for the credit.

Lawmakers removed a $5 million cap on how much one production could apply for last year. “White Boy Rick” had already been approved for the $5 million credit, but the production company reapplied after the project limit was eliminated.

There is a pool of $40 million projects can apply for annually.

Ivan Schwarz, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, would like to see that doubled to $80 million.

“What happens is we keep running out of money… sending people away,” he said.

Schwarz was instrumental in getting Ohio’s incentive established, which began with a budget of $10 million in 2009.

Productions must spend at least $300,000 a project to apply for a credit on in-state production expenses, which includes wages, lodging, catering and equipment.

Ohio is not alone in offering credits to productions. 37 states offered film incentives in 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Its research shows 10 states have cut incentive programs over the last few years while other states, including Ohio, have extended or expanded them.

“As long as there are incentives… that’s how you get in the game,” Schwarz said.

Angela Boehm is one business owner reaping the benefits of Ohio’s film credits.

“The tax incentive couldn’t be a bigger blessing,” she said.

Boehm started a casting business in Berea a few years ago. While casting is project-based work, she said she is busy year round.

Angela Boehm Casting was tapped to line up 2,100 extras for ‘White Boy Rick.”

The movie began filming in March and is expected to wrap up in early June.

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