Hollywood chase scenes move much slower and take much longer than they appear on screen.
In the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that aired during the Super Bowl, the masked Winter Soldier steps into traffic and fires a nasty guided land mine at a black SUV carrying S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Hugging the pavement, the explosive sticks to the underside of the bullet-riddled vehicle and sends it trunk over hood while the Winter Soldier sidesteps the hulking carcass like a bullfighter. Yeah, it's awesome — especially because it's clear the movie was shot here. The city plays a beautiful supporting role.
From our seventh floor perch overlooking the Theater District, however, that little piece of big-screen magic appeared much different when it was being filmed last summer. With each car and bystander aligned perfectly along Euclid Avenue, the tiny vehicles looked like Matchbox toys moving in perfect synchronization.
Witnessed at that distance, the detail, organization and complexity make you appreciate the process. That's the challenge for Ivan Schwarz, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, as he works to establish Cleveland as a place for filmmaking. "We need infrastructure," says Schwarz. "First, you have to lay the foundation. You have to get people used to the idea of filming."
During the six weeks Marvel Studios filmed here, we felt those growing pains. Sure, we were inconvenienced. Yes, we complained. But, it's a small price. Schwarz has California-size dreams: an uncapped tax credit, soundstages, TV shows here nine months a year, a trained industry workforce.
He has a strong supporting cast, including Joe and Anthony Russo, the Cleveland-born directors of The Winter Soldier who we followed during the moviemaking process. Actors Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson and Sebastian Stan, who we also interview, all rave about working here. Plus, we talk to Clevelanders who make their living in the industry by blowing up cars, gathering props, rigging the lights and making the actors look their best.
And like the effort it took to create that one scene, it's what Schwarz cares about most. "I'm not interested in having a movie shoot here, and then go away," he argues. "What I care about is creating jobs and economic development for this region."