I like this topic because I have thought the same thing. I believe Columbus has a very versatile, non-descript scenery that could easy substitute for Chicago, DC (Georgetown), areas of NYC, some European locales or almost anywhere aside for coastal, tropical or desert areas. I also think the fact that Columbus does not have license requirements on location shoots, by which I mean there is no license required or fees needed to shoot in public areas or on the streets here, assuming there are no closures required, should be very appealing (I am not 100% sure this is still in effect but I can not see why it would have changed).
I think the problem is mainly due to a lack of concentrated marketing to the Film Industry. Having a website is not enough as most people on either coast know little to nothing about Columbus Ohio (Believe me, I grew up on the East Coast and could not tell you ANYTHING about Columbus except that OSU was here before I moved here). How are we expected to get films to shoot here when in a lot of cases weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not on the map? Yes, some movies have filmed here but with the exception of Teachers in the early 80Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s most of the shoots in Columbus proper were simply small scenes, not major productions with multi-area locations based in the city.
If we want films to shoot here someone needs to spend money selling the town to Hollywood, along with [major] Independents and European Film Markets. We need to have presence at the location trade shows and run ads in trade magazines, i.e. Hollywood Reporter, Variety, etc. We need to look at the city as Ã¢â‚¬Å“productÃ¢â‚¬Â we want to sell and spend money to do it. I do not really expect that to happen because the city doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t appear to have a mindset to do this. The city is still relatively conservative in their thinking opting for parks, etc rather than more radical projects; which is unfortunate.
Another thing hurting Columbus is a lack of a skilled film trade population. LA, New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Vancouver have a huge population of skilled and experienced workers for film and TV. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why you see most films and TV shows shot in North America filmed in those markets. I would dare to say, that has more of an affect than the appearance of the city itself, sans LA and New York. Columbus would need to work to hold on to the talent trained here at OSU, Ohio University Film School and CCAD, and try to keep them from fleeing to other markets. We should have bright creative people invest and develop production companies and houses in Columbus and operate here. They need to produce mainstream, marketable material that can be pitched to the networks, Showtime, HBO and larger studios. Shooting small budgets horror and quirky films with little mass appeal, while they may be creative and have good intentions, will not make Columbus a viable film market. It can be done. Seemingly non-movie like areas like Austin, TX, Richmond, VA, Albuquerque, NM and Savannah, GA have all been fairly successful in developing their film and TV markets. I see no reason why Columbus could not do the same with the right motivation.
With that said (too much maybe), I would love to see someone step up and get something going here. If anyone here is working on this idea, please let me know. I would love to be involved.