92 projects grab onto $242 million Florida filming incentive jackpot
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Almost all of the state's eagerly awaited five-year, $242 million film incentive is spoken for in 92 separate projects and benefits are just starting to show in South Florida, industry experts say.
The types of projects that come through the region, however, may markedly differ from years past.
"For television, the incentive works well," said Maria Kittyle Chavez, executive director of the Florida Film Production Coalition.
A "Charlie's Angels" pilot is slated to begin production in Miami early in 2011, though ABC executives would need to order more shows and commit to Miami for real economic impact. Premium cable channel Starz is to start shooting 12 episodes of "The Magic City," a 1960s drama set in Miami Beach, early next year.
"Then we have ‘The Glades' in Fort Lauderdale, which got picked up for another season," Ms. Chavez said. "There [are] some features coming in and there's another television show, I think, coming into Palm Beach."
The state has certified 92 projects and "all of the projects will start in this fiscal year and will result in an estimated $980.3 million in overall expenditures in our state over the next five years," said Joceyln Mock, spokesperson for the Governor's Office of Film & Entertainment. "During this same time period, these projects will bring close to 102,221 jobs for Floridians that will result in close to $601 million paid in wages."
Out of the original $242 million, $47 million in tax credits remains, she added.
The office couldn't say how much of the incentive will be spent on projects filmed in South Florida, thought five films and five television projects in the state's Southeast and Keys region qualified for the incentive and have either opened production offices or wrapped up shooting.
Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment Director Jeff Peel couldn't be reached.
While the widespread use of incentive seems to prove its success, it doesn't seem to have yet drawn back much of the talent the state lost when it axed the incentive in recent years.
The package, approved in spring, was a huge victory for Florida's entertainment community. A statewide budget crush pushed legislators to cut the incentive total, which reached an all-time high of $25 million in 2007, to $5 million.
vThe industry won a small victory two years ago when policymakers increased that $5 million to $10.8 million. Then, after years of lobbying, the industry succeeded in securing an incentive package that was on par with those of New York, Michigan and Louisiana.
"I don't know if it's drawing back people yet. That's a good question," Ms. Chavez said. "For feature films, a lot of the feature people are working out of state still."
Though some of that talent – grips and gaffers – has returned for the filming of "Dolphin's Tale," being shot in the Tampa Bay area starring Morgan Freeman and Harry Connick Jr., she added, it's "a small percentage" of those who left.
Recent figures show Miami-Dade County was the only state market to grow in every taxable sales category signaling a faster recovering local economy. Read the complete story in e-Miami Today.