My Experience Working in the Cleveland Film Industry

by Katie Raguz

I’m sure most of us remember when The Avengers and Captain America were filmed in the Cle, but what some may not know is that there are several movies being filmed in Cleveland year round.  These films may not be as popular as the multi–million-dollar blockbusters that we know about, but they certainly put Cleveland on the map as a place to consider working in the film industry.

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work as a production intern on a film called The Land.  This independent feature film “tells the story of four teenage boys who devote their summer to escaping the streets of Cleveland, Ohio to pursue a dream life of professional skateboarding. But when they get caught in the web of the local Queen-pin, their motley brotherhood is tested, threatening to make this summer their last” (IMDb).  Members of the cast include Jorge Lendebourg Jr., Moises Arias (Rico from Hannah Montana), Michael K Williams (Omar from The Wire), Erykah Badu, Rafi Gavron, Machine Gun Kelly, Ezzy Walker, Michael Ray Escamilla, Natalie Martinez, and many more.  As you can probably tell from its description, this film is not going to have a happy-go-lucky, PG view of Cleveland, but it tells a powerful story that is written and directed by a true Cleveland native, Steven Caple Jr.

Being an intern on this particular film was an extreme learning opportunity for me because it pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me discover various aspects of the film industry that I hadn’t even thought about like the tasks of the individuals who make up the large team of people that it takes to create the show, where all of the money goes into the film, how random the call times can be, and how quickly a schedule can change.

My job in particular was to work on the business and logistics side of the film in the production office.  Every night, I would receive a call sheet with the scenes for the next day and the time the crew needed to arrive to set.  Considering the call times were usually at around 6PM (which would mean the hours of work would be 6PM to 6AM), I would usually be asked to come in at an earlier time because I often had to purchase items, run things to set, and drive around the cast and crew.  I was also a little too young to be out all night in unfamiliar locations – let’s be real.  Along with the tasks mentioned earlier, the production office usually needed to facilitate things that happened behind the scenes, from staying up to date with sides for the day to attempting to making calls at 5PM to find a food truck that would serve the cast and crew on set beginning at 2AM the next morning.

I have several fun stories from the experience, including first running into Moises Arias at the apartment he was staying in while dropping off Michael Ray Escamilla (another actor best known from Hot Pursuit) from the airport.  I also met producers and members of the crew who are extremely cool and interesting people who were willing to sit and talk with me about the industry and their part in it.  It’s amazing to see people from around the country, and even the world, come together to create an artistic endeavor.

Being able to watch The Land as it was filmed on set was my favorite part of my internship. Although I was usually just there to drop off packages, to get the line producer to sign around 70 invoices, or to pick up the key to the house the camera department was staying in, I was able to be in the silent room, as hot or intimidating as it was, with the great minds of people who do this as their job every day.

I could go on and on about everything I learned and experienced while working on this film in Cleveland this summer, but I think you get the gist.  The other day, the list of films that made it into the Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah came out, and I was extremely excited to see that The Land made it into the “Next” category.  It’s incredible to see that the hard work of the people who poured everything into this film is paying off.