Movie studio opens at Land of Illusion for filming

By Chelsey Levingston

Staff Writer


A studio for film, television and video production has opened on the grounds of the Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park outside Middletown, the park’s owner announced Friday.

Land of Illusion runs only a limited time each year. Opening the 110-acre venue in the off-season to film crews is a way to grow business at the property while also bringing new jobs and investment to the community, owner Brett Oakley said.

“We sit between New York and Beverly Hills and we’re in a perfect spot for a lot of movies, and a lot of film artists, film producers to really save some money come here and facilitate them,” Oakley said.

The Land of Illusion Studios & Backlot, as the new business is named, is working with the FilmDayton and Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission to promote the availability of this new location, according to Oakley.

“What this allows Land of Illusion to do is gradually continue to expand,” he said.

Los Angeles, Calif.-based Petri Entertainment started filming this week an independent horror movie at the local Halloween attraction, said Petri President Andy Palmer. The movie, titled “The Funhouse Massacre,” includes actors Clint Howard and Robert Englund, who played the fictional serial killer Freddy Krueger in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” film series, said Palmer, the movie’s director.

Palmer said he was attracted to Ohio because the script was written by Ohio natives and set in their home state.

“I love the idea of a chilly Halloween night,” Palmer said.

Filming will last through April 19.

“One of the main reasons for the growth of the film industry in this state was the introduction of legislation in regards to a tax credit for filming motion pictures, which this movie is taking advantage of,” said Mark Hecquet, executive director of the Butler County Visitors Bureau.

A movie production brings crew members to work on location and hires local extras and other suppliers. They’ll stay in the community for weeks, spending money on lodging and dining, Hecquet said.

“The movie industry brings a huge economic impact to the community,” he said. “Though independent, we hope it will lead to much bigger things.”

Ohio offers incentives that pay up to 25 percent of a film’s production costs and wages, as well as up to 35 percent for Ohio resident wages. A film can win up to $5 million in credits, depending on how much it spends.

Since 2010, movie, commercial, reality television and other producers have received tax breaks worth nearly $44 million to film in Ohio, an analysis by this news outlet found.

For example, the movie “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, landed $2.9 million in incentives for shooting scenes last year in Lebanon, Hamilton and Cincinnati. The film is slated to be released later this year.

“What it does for us, it allows us to come in and kind of minimize, if you will, some investor risk,” Palmer said, referring to the tax incentives. “We want to hire local people as much as possible because they know the area.”

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