D’Amico wants shale boom to bring film boom to Valley

Fred D’Amico spent more than a decade in southern California working in the film business, doing everything from crew work and small acting roles to serving as a producer on “The Power of Few,” written and directed by Boardman native Leone Marucci.

Now D’Amico is back home in the Mahoning Valley, and he wants to bring the film business with him.

Filmmakers will go where the money is, according to D’Amico, and several factors could make the area a desirable location for film production.

“We have every kind of geography in Ohio, minus the deserts in the Southwest,” D’Amico said. “There are untapped locations by shooting in Youngstown.”

State tax credits for the film industry have lured Hollywood to Cleveland with “The Avengers,” “Alex Cross” and “Fun Size” among the major studio releases that have used northeast Ohio locations. Those same tax credits could benefit film production in the Mahoning Valley.

D’Amico also wants to tap into the area’s new millionaires, those who received large checks for shale drilling rights on their property and now have to find investments or other tax shelters to avoid losing a significant portion of that windfall.

“The oil boom can create a film boom,” he said.

While the benefits of film production to a local economy are well-documented local hiring, purchase of local goods, catering, fees paid for location use the risks are greater for investors, although D’Amico said there are steps that can be taken to mitigate those risks.

“I want to take the wow factor out of Hollywood and make it the how factor,” he said.

D’Amico’s plan is motivated by self-interest. He moved back home to take care of his mother and wants to be able to stay in the Mahoning Valley and work in his chosen profession.

“It’s the Yo-Yo effect,” D’Amico, 38, said. “We all left the Yo’ and now we’re yo-yo-ing back to take care of our parents.”

To bring the film business to the Mahoning Valley, several things need to happen, including:

  • Identifying local investors.
  • Conducting film financing seminars to introduce production companies to potential investors.
  • Identifying the local talent pool for film crew work and training new workers, either through workshops/seminars or through community college programs.

D’Amico said it will take a coordinated effort among local government, the business community and individuals to make it a reality.

“The Power of Few,” which opens this weekend in Boardman took advantage of state tax credits in Louisiana to help with its financing.

Marucci, writer and director of “The Power of Few,” said, “There certainly are opportunities in the film business. Pittsburgh and Cleveland are doing pretty well with it, and Youngstown is right in between. You would think there would be some way for Youngstown to be a part of that.”

Those interested in D’Amico’s efforts can reach him at youngstownfilmindustry@gmail.com.