Miamidade Commission Chair Martinez Sees Homestead As Hub To Film Latin American Telenovelas
By Ashley Hopkins
Soap fans may soon see more of Miami-Dade on the small screen.
As Joe Martinez took over Jan. 1 as county commission chairman once again, the former police officer planned to see what can be done to bring Central and South American telenovela film crews to the Homestead Air Reserve Base.
Since his first commission chairmanship in 2004, Mr. Martinez said in a far-ranging interview, he has worked to make conditions favorable for area businesses. As nearby counties like Broward and Monroe often offer tax breaks to local companies, he said he has worked with the Beacon Council and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce to make sure Miami-Dade retains business.
"We can’t solely survive on tourism," he said. "That cannot be our main issue.… I’ve always equated Miami-Dade to the business equivalent of the geographic equator. We’re in the middle of everything."
In 2001 a group of investors from New York and Palm Beach presented movie studio plans to the county commission in hopes of shooting a World War II film at Homestead.
At the time, John Corso, producer, director and co-author of Lone Eagle: Legend of the Red Tails, told the commission that based on his estimates, a studio could contribute $300 million to the local economy. He said the base had enough space to accommodate more than 140 sets and that South Florida’s weather and professional movie crews made it an ideal location for filming.
Mr. Martinez worked to bring the movie studio to the 700-acre Air Force base and said he even had an architect design a rendering of the facility. While investors intended the base to become a permanent home for future film productions, in the end the commissioner couldn’t garner enough support to move the project forward.
As he enters his second chairmanship, Mr. Martinez said he’d like to revisit the issue.
As Showtime’s Dexter, USA’s Burn Notice and CBS’s CSI Miami are shot in Miami-Dade, the new chairman said he thought Central and South American telenovelas could be filmed here too.
Homestead, Mr. Martinez said, is far enough from the urban core that production wouldn’t affect county operations. The base is equipped with a water tank for underwater filming and is next to the ocean, he said, making it a perfect backdrop for air and sea shots.
What’s more, as many telenovelas are currently being shot in areas of political unrest, Mr. Martinez said he thought production crews could benefit from filming where government is stable.
"We have the ability to do it here," he said. "We have the weather. We have the people who are able to do it, the expertise, the professionalism."