What Should Governor Scott do to Bolster Florida’s Film Incentive?

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Panel of FL legislators and event moderator Paul Sirmons (far right)

In a room teeming with crew, cast and entertainment industry movers and shakers, legislators from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Monroe and Collier Counties were able to see and hear from the people who benefit directly from the industry’s job creations at last Tuesday’s Film Florida workshop and forum, held at the Lehman Theater at Miami Dade College’s North Campus. The event served to engage and inform government leaders about the diverse impacts of the film, television and entertainment production industry within the State of Florida, reinforcing the value to Florida’s economy as a job creator and tourism inducer.

Paul Sirmons (Producer and former State of Florida Film Commissioner), skillfully moderated a rich array of business leaders who provided compelling documented case studies about the success of Florida’s incentive program to date. Speakers included Terry Miller (EP of Burn Notice), Barry Gordon (Director, MDC School of Entertainment & Design Technology); Rolando Aedo (EVP & CMO, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau), Jack Osterholt (Vice Mayor, Miami Dade County), David Phelps (Director of External Relations, AICP), Juan Delgado (VP, Telemundo) and Angela Miele (VP State Tax Policy, MPAA).

At the podium: Dr. José A. Vicente, Miami Dade College North Campus President

Angela Miele, who handles incentives around the country, spoke about ten states that have increased their incentives since 2013 (not Florida) and how capital investments are based on cost when deciding what cities to shoot in. Florida’s incentive program is one of reimbursement rather than funding, unlike competing states Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama and Nevada, who have unlimited incentive programs, and have overtaken Florida in entertainment production opportunities. Florida, being a balance budget state, has limited “pie” resulting in long queues for funding, all of which has been allocated but not yet spent. Read more about Florida Film & Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program for general production, commercial and music video, and independent and Emerging Media. 

The only area of entertainment content creation in South Florida that shows no signs of slowing down are the Hispanic productions.  The competitive environment of Spanish-language media in the U.S. is slowly evolving to resemble the truly competitive nature of English-language media.  There are currently 30 million Spanish-language households in the U.S. and that number is expected to jump to 130 million by 2050. Read Variety’s cover story, NBCUniversal Bets Big on Original Spanish-Lingo Productions.

A look inside Telemundo’s telenovela factory
The bulk of graduates from local film schools pack their bags immediately upon graduation and head to LA or New York seeking employment.  The local IATSE Local 600 office moved from Miami Beach to Atlanta on June 27th of this year. Another game-changer in Georgia (both locally and statewide when it opens for business in January) is that Pinewood Studios, one of the most successful movie production companies in the world, is not only moving to Fayette County, but also, sees the need for local college and career training to fill an unemployment gap. 

What do you think Governor Rick Scott should do about our Florida Incentive? Clearly, it’s a complicated affair with qualification and certification required BEFORE production begins,  the issue of Florida being a balanced budget state, politics, cap on spending, questions about whether the Incentive should come with conditions or not (i.e. Red Carpet events for FL-incentivized productions to happen in Florida BEFORE L.A.). Find out what you can do by checking out the Film Florida Advocacy Toolkit and help shape Florida’s economic future. — Tatyana Chiocchetti

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Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.