YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A local film director is looking to put Youngstown on the map and create a hub for movie production in the area.

Youngstown native James Ford started out producing music and gradually transitioned into film-making and directing shorts. He’s now one half of a production company called JAE Films.

“What Happens in the Dark” is his first feature-length movie sold to Tubi, where it premiered last month. It was shot in Youngstown, Howland and around Cleveland.

“One of the things that I really wanted when we started this film company in 2022 was to be able to showcase independent films that will be able to make an impact on the community here,” Ford said.

Ford said it was vital to him to keep the project local and support the Valley.

“We ate at restaurants. We had hotel rooms, and so we were able to hire the individuals who acted in the movie. People got paid. They spend their monies in their communities, and they spent that in our community,” Ford said.

Ford says his goal is to revive the film production scene in the area and help it grow into something bigger where independent writers, actors and directors can support each other. He’s also been taking training courses in other cities in the hopes of bringing that knowledge back to Youngstown.

“I want to do a renaissance here for the Mahoning Vally because we have a lot of great talented filmmakers here, actors and actresses. Just wanted to make sure that the world sees or platform,” Ford said.

Ford says he’s working on other feature-length films and has even more in store for local filmmaking projects.