On January 29, 2010, the Plain Dealer ran an article weighing in on the "pay to audition" website from NEHST Studios. Also mentioned was a status update on two of NEHST Studios current film projects, "Lilith" and "Cleopatra Smiles."
Meistrich said he'll hire SAG actors for speaking parts in “Lilith,” a feature-length thriller that is the first in Nehst's slate of films to be made in Cleveland. An open casting call will be announced once a casting director has been hired, he said.
Meistrich has said he will seek tax credits for “Lilith” after it begins filming in March. He declined to reveal the film's budget but said it is destined for a theatrical release. Nehst recently announced that Vivica A. Fox will star in its film “Cleopatra Smiles.” But Fox’s representative declined to comment on her involvement, saying the film does not have a start date or confirmed funding.
Meistrich said his funding is in place and he is negotiating with Fox.
Per Meistrich, his funding for "Cleopatra Smiles" was already in place and he was negotiating a salary with Vivica Fox. Her rep, however, seemed to have a different version on the progress (or lack of progress) of the film project. If Larry's funding was already in place, then he would need no other financial assistance in order to start production.
Six weeks later, another Plain Dealer article announced the $1.2 million loan guarantee that Meistrich was granted by the Cleveland City Council.
A City Council committee on Tuesday approved $1.2 million in loan guarantees for three planned feature-length films produced by Nehst Studios, a New York-based production company that has established an office here.
The three films are "Cleopatra Smiles," a romantic comedy starring Vivica A. Fox; "The Kid Who Only Hit Home Runs," which is based on a popular children's book; and "Strangeland 2," a horror-film sequel starring Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.
The city's guarantee is for 10 percent of the combined budget for the three films. This is the first time the city has made such a guarantee. All three movies will be shot in Cleveland and its suburbs, said Nehst Chairman Larry Meistrich. Production will begin on the three films once all the details have been finalized, he said.
That loan guarantee would be used to find additional funding and raise the necessary $11M combined budget for the three film projects. That means "Cleopatra Smiles" went from fully funded and ready to begin production to unfunded and in need of a loan guarantee from Cleveland in a period of six weeks. "Cleopatra Smiles" is no longer listed on neither NEHST's IMDBPro film slate nor on a list of future films by Vivica A. Fox.
All three films will supposedly go into production simultaneously, and now those projections have been pushed back to sometime in 2011.
November 17, 2008, an earlier Plain Dealer article announced NEHST's rent-free deal for the empty Convention Center.
The Cleveland City Council Monday approved a one-year, rent-free lease with a filmmaker that will occupy 17,000 square feet at the downtown Convention Center. Mayor Frank Jackson last month announced the deal with Nehst Creations, which aims to be a production house for small films made in the area and spur the growth of film-related jobs here.
Nehst is committed to spending $125 million in Northeast Ohio if the state legislature passes a proposed tax credit for filmmakers, officials say. The deal would grant the company occasional use of other areas of the convention center, provided the areas aren't rented out at the time. Comparable space in Detroit could fetch more than $1 million in rent a year, the mayor's chief of staff said last month.
Over a year and a half have passed since this announcement. Meistrich's promise of spending $125 million on film productions motivated the powers that be to pass the current film tax credit program. The inaugural slate of theatrical films promised to be shot on location in Cleveland have not yet materialized. The only real movement has been the completion of the low-budget film, "Lilith" and the generous loan guarantee. When will all of these promises and wishes come to fruition?