‘Ballers’ to begin shooting as series
Written by Catherine Lackner on August 6, 2014
“Ballers,” one of the television pilots that was filmed here late last year, will begin shooting in November, film sources said.
The HBO show features Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, actor and semi-retired professional wrestler, who in reality was a football star at the University of Miami. The series revolves around the adventures of a group of retired athletes who live in Miami. It’s a project of actor Mark Wahlberg, who starred with Mr. Johnson in 2013’s “Pain and Gain,” and “Entourage” producer Stephen Levinson.
“Fortunately, ‘Ballers’ was able to secure incentive funds that had been earmarked for shows that ended,” said Sandy Lighterman, Miami-Dade County film commissioner. “If that had not been the case, the show likely would have gone to a state like Georgia or Louisiana, which has a reliable and attractive incentive program.”
Despite heavy lobbying from the film industry, the Florida Legislature declined to add new funds to the state’s incentive program during both its 2013 and 2014 sessions.
In 2010, a Jobs for Florida bill designated $242 million over five years for tax credits for film studios and other production companies. By March 2011, $227 million of the credits had been committed, with the majority going to digital media and to so-called high impact television shows, those that have budgets exceeding $625,000.
When four major television series ended, some incentive funds went back into the program, which made it possible for “Ballers” and several other shows to film pilots.
The state’s film incentives come in the form of tax credits based on the scope of the production, number of local people hired, season in which filming occurs and several other variables. The credits can be sold at the end of the term if the production doesn’t need the equivalent tax relief.
Florida’s natural assets and solid labor infrastructure are strong draws for productions, Ms. Lighterman has said. But producers looking at the bottom line want the security of a stable incentive program, she added.
“Mesquite,” a Netflix pilot that was filmed around the same time as “Ballers,” is in production now in Homestead and Florida City.