CINCINNATI – A new movie based on a John Green novel begins principal photography in Greater Cincinnati this week.

What You Need To Know

  • 'Turtles All the Way Down' will film in Greater Cincinnati over the next two months

  • The film stars Isabela Merced and Hannah Marks will direct it

  • This is one of the latest movies filmed in Cincinnati in recent years

  • Cincinnati is one of the top locations for filmmakers in the country, per MovieMaker magazine

“Turtles All the Way Down" is an adaptation of Green’s New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. The film stars Isabela Merced and Hannah Marks will direct it.

Filming will take place over the next two months, according to Film Cincinnati. Locations are still being scouted, so there aren’t any specifics other than the Greater Cincinnati area at this point.

“We are so excited to have ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ film here in Cincinnati,” said Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati. “With Regina King film ‘Shirley’ wrapping up production earlier this month, we’re ready to welcome the next feature to Cincinnati to take advantage of our resources of talented cast, skilled crew and prime locations.”

“Turtles All the Way Down” tells the story of 17-year-old Aza Holmes, who battles mental illness and anxiety. It was Green’s first book after the massive success of The Fault in Our Stars, which earned the top spot at the box office during its opening weekend in 2014 and grossed $307 million worldwide.

Merced is best known for her work in movies such as “Instant Family,” “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” and “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” She was last seen in the Netflix thriller “Sweet Girl” alongside Jason Momoa.

Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger wrote the screen adaption of the young adult novel. The pair served as co-showrunners for the TV show This Is Us and wrote the screenplay for “Love, Simon.” 

Green — whose other books-turned-movies include “Paper Towns” and “Looking for Alaska” — will serve as an executive producer. Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner will produce.

Now in its 35th year, Film Cincinnati is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky as a destination for film, commercial and television productions. Those types of projects contributed nearly $80 million in economic impact in 2017 and 2018, the last years that figures are available, according to Film Cincinnati.

Most recently, the Queen City has served as the background of a film about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress. The aptly named “Shirley” stars Regina King in the role of Chisholm.

Studios filmed three major projects in Cincinnati last summer after the state of Ohio rolled back COVID-19-related public health mandates in mid-March.

Those include “Monica,” “Rebel/Rebel” and “Bones and All,” starring Timothée Chalamet.

Cincinnati is an attractive destination for filmmakers due in part to a 30% Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit offered to projects that spend at least $300,000 in the state. Those funds can go to cast and crew wages and are other eligible in-state costs.

“Ohio positioned itself to take the lead in the movie industry’s recovery early on with strong tax incentives,” Schlotman said. “Combine that with the wealth of talent, both behind and in front of the camera, and our variety of movie-ready locations, and it’s no surprise that Cincinnati was one of the first choices for moviemakers when production resumed.”

In January, Cincinnati earned the No. 11 spot on a list of top places to live and work in North America for filmmakers by MovieMaker magazine, a publication dedicated to the art and craft of making movies. 

The ranking puts the Queen City ahead of places such as San Francisco, San Diego, Miami and Washington, D.C. Cleveland came in at No. 12.