G-Base Movie Project a Step Closer to Filming

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The approval of a float loan by Youngstown City Council is just about all that’s separating a film production company from filming in the Mahoning Valley.

Thursday evening, Council’s Housing and Economic Development Committee gave the OK to Law Director Martin Hume to draft legislation approving a $2 million float loan to G-Base Entertainment – the production company headed by Gerard Butler and Alan Siegel — to film “Them That Follow” in the Youngstown area.

“It’s a lot of legal work between the town and our company,” said Danielle Robinson, G-Base’s director of development, of what remains to be done before filming starts. “We have our script and our cast and our directors and our financing and our production company. We’re very far along in this process.”

The loan will be voted on at the next City Council meeting. The city’s director of economic development, T. Sharon Woodberry, requested that a special meeting of council be scheduled, though no date was established at the meeting.

“This is close to finalizing, hinging upon the float loan before anything is committed. That’s why this is being presented to council,” Woodberry said before the meeting. “We’ve had lengthy conversations [with G-Base] and discussed how the program works and started that process. They’ve already scouted the area and they’re excited about what Youngstown has to offer.”

Robinson said G-Base has an investor lined up to support the film. Once the loan — at a 0.25% fee for 18 months — is approved and a letter of credit issued, the remaining pieces will fall into place. If approved, it would mark the first time G-Base has used a float loan on a film project.

A budget for the film hasn’t been finalized, but G-Base estimates that it would hire 221 Ohio residents and have expenditures of $1.7 million during pre-production and production. In its application for a state tax credit for filming, the company said it would spend roughly $834,000 on payroll, $113,000 on equipment and rentals, $53,000 on lodging and $1 million on other expenses such as security, transportation, props and clothing.

“There are certain expenditures that we can’t spend in Youngstown. Our stars, we have to import,” Robinson said. “But other than that, we’ll really look to hire everyone here. Quite frankly, we can’t afford to fly in everyone on this movie. We can fly in our actors and production crew and then we’ll have to hire locally.”

Pre-production for “Them That Follow” would begin in September, she said, with filming between mid-October and Thanksgiving. G-Base hopes to screen the film at the Cannes Film Festival in spring 2018 and enter it for awards.

“It would be a great opportunity to announce Youngstown as a location on a world scale,” Robinson told the committee.

The company is in talks with major studies to sell the film and expects to meet with studio executives during filming, which could help bring more film projects to the area.

“We obviously have to finish our film before we have more conversations, but there will be studios here to drop in,” Robinson said. “The conversation won’t just be production-specific. There will be other production companies checking out what we’re doing, so there will be larger film community conversations.”

“Them That Follow” is a dramatic thriller, Robinson said, about a woman coming of age, her relationship with her father and her community. The movie isn’t explicitly set in Youngstown – currently the location is a general Appalachian town – though that could be changed. The setting is more rural than urban, she said. Without naming names, Robinson said they have secured a “Golden Globe-winning actress” for the lead role and that all actors have kept their schedules clear in October and November to work on the project.

“I love our float loan program and I wish we used it more. … I’d love you to take the message and spread it to your colleagues,” said Fifth Ward Councilwoman Lauren McNally to Robinson during the meeting. “At the end of the day, it’s money in our economy that we need. Whether we use Youngstown in the movie or not is irrelevant to me. You’re filming here and that’s money in our economy.”

Pictured: G-Base Entertainment is looking at filming “Them That Follow” in the Youngstown area and is seeking a float loan from the city.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.