City of Miami ho-hums TV series aid cap, film incentive to skip region
By Catherine Lackner
State budget changes might impact Miami's power to lure future television series and movie productions, but so far there's no organized response on the part of the city.
"I'm not worried," Mayor Tomás Regalado said Friday. The day before, he had attended an event with the producers of "Rock of Ages," a film being shot this summer. "They told me they had been to Detroit and they had considered Los Angeles. They chose to come here, and said they were glad they did. They like the light here; they like the water."
Lawmakers this past session changed the state's $242 million film incentive funding to cap the amount that can go toward television production. The legislation, structured to urge filmmakers to do feature work in other parts of the state, was sponsored by Rep. Steve Precourt, an Orlando Republican in whose district Universal Studios lies. It offers a 5% incentive to projects that film outside of South Florida.
The new budget takes effect July 1, so any project shooting now — including that film, and television shows "Burn Notice," "The Glades," "Charlie's Angels" and "Magic City" — would not be affected. There's disagreement about the financial impact in future years.
State Film Commissioner Lucia Fishburne told the Sun Sentinel there is now a "cap on new television series and pilots coming into the state, which will effectively mean, since we are well beyond the cap already, that we will not be able to certify any new TV series. It's going to tie our hands."
The economic impact for South Florida could be $523 million in wages and 87,000 in jobs, said Jeff Peel, director of the Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment.
The film incentive bill allocated $242 million over five years in tax credits for film studios and digital-production companies. By March, $227 million of that money had been committed.
"Some 70% of that $242 million has already been spent," said Marc Sarnoff, Downtown Development Authority chairman and Miami city commissioner, at the authority's meeting Friday. "The remaining 30% is not going to change things very much, and neither is the 5% Orlando incentive. It looks like this is going affect our filming industry, but that's probably not true."
Three years remain in the "Jobs for Florida" incentive budget. But if Miami takes a hit when future film incentive funds are divvied up, "then I guess the Dade delegation isn't doing its job," Mr. Sarnoff said. "Put it this way: there's no reason Walt Disney Studios should have better lobbyists than Miami does."
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