Latest Cincinnati Film a Homecoming for Producer Johanna Byer
By Betsy Ross, Contributing Writer
Video and Photos by Madison Schmidt
When the Netflix remake of the French thriller “Point Blank” starts shooting next week in Cincinnati, it marks the homecoming for producer Johanna Byer, who left Cincinnati more than a decade ago to pursue a Hollywood career.
But the spark of her career started as a teenager in Indian Hill, on the set of the 2000 Michael Douglas thriller, “Traffic,” also shot in Cincinnati. Her mother and stepfather, Rhonda and Larry Sheakley, were letting the crew use their home for the film. It was the first time Johanna had been on a film set and she immediately became fascinated with the business of movies.
She left for Los Angeles for college and after graduation got into the entertainment business, most recently serving as vice president of development for Working Title Films before being hired away by legendary French film studio Gaumont as vice president of creative affairs for its new U.S.-based film division. Byer is a producer for the studio’s remake of “Point Blank.”
“I left Cincinnati 13 years ago to go to Los Angeles to follow my dream,” Byer said, “and I never thought I would be able to come home and do a movie. Having this opportunity means the world to me, because I get to spend the summer in the city I love with my family, with my friends that I haven’t seen in over a decade.”
Unlike other movies shot in Cincinnati, like “Carol” or “Miles Ahead,” where Cincinnati filled in for other cities, the movie’s script was re-written for the story to be based in Cincinnati. “What’s great about this film is – unlilke most films -- we are using Cincinnati as Cincinnati, a city we love, in fact, we’re doing a love song to the city,” Byer said. “We are featuring murals and buildings and iconic Cincinnati elements and normally you wouldn’t have that opportunity. Often you have to shoot the city as a different city, but in this one we’re embracing Cincinnati and everything it has to offer and we couldn’t be more excited.”
After looking at L.A. and Atlanta as possible locations for “Point Blank,” Byer says Cincinnati became an obvious choice with the help of the non-profit Film Cincinnati and Executive Director Kristen Schlotman, whom she met on the “Traffic” set. “When you come into a city most of the time you don’t know anyone or know anything,” she said, “And having someone like Kristen and having Film Cincinnati open doors and lead the way has made such a difference. I know this city, but without Kristen, we wouldn’t be ready to shoot on August 6th.”
“Point Blank” is just the latest motion picture to be shot in Cincinnati as the movie industry takes advantage of the state’s Motion Picture Tax Incentive that returns $2.10 into the Ohio economy for every $1 invested through the incentive. Byer says the city should be proud of how this area has become a center for movie making.
“Be excited, open your doors to us, if traffic has to stop, be OK with that,” she said. “Join us, be extras, embrace filmmaking in your city because you have an amazing tax credit and you will provide opportunities for everyone in the city.”
Learn more about how the non-profit Film Cincinnati works to bring more production crews into the area at www.filmcincinnati.com. Want to apply as an extra in “Point Blank?” Email your resume and head shot to PointBlankExtras@gmail.com.