It wasn’t that long ago that Florida used to rank number three in the nation for film production.
But, then state lawmakers began expressing concern about providing “corporate welfare” to businesses — including film production companies — so they began doing away with tax incentives designed to help those companies.
Today, a lot of films and TV shows are being shot in states like Georgia. Florida no longer ranks in the top ten for film production.
“I think it’s widely understood that motion picture production is on the verge of collapse in our state and the immense economic impact that comes from making movies and television shows now has left for other states that have aggressive incentive programs,” said Chris Ranung, who is with the Congress of Motion Pictures Associations of Florida.
The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that the economic impact of Florida’s motion picture industry has resulted in almost 30,000 direct jobs and over $1 billion in wages.
“The economic impact of the film industry in Florida is huge,” said state Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota. “But there is long-lasting impacts long after the initial dollars are spent. We have a residual value that gets created with every time that people watch these shows over and over again. It drives tourism to Florida.”
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is joining forces to sponsor legislation that would create the Florida Motion Picture Capital Corporation. The aim of the corporation would be to once again help support film industry projects in Florida.
“The film industry is crucial to our state economy and we must do everything we can to ensure that Florida is the first choice for film and television productions,” said Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami.
If approved, the legislation would create the motion picture corporation which would be empowered to offer “innovative” funding sources for film production in Florida. The bill would create the mechanism for issuing financial support but would not receive any dollars from the state — at least initially.
“Movie, television series, and other film projects throughout the state will receive a much needed boost through the use of innovative funding and a merit-based selection method,” Taddeo added. “This effort will bring high paying jobs, grow the middle class, have a positive impact on small businesses, and restore Florida’s reputation as a top destination for film projects.”
The request for dollars from the state would come later — most likely next year — when supporters say they will likely ask for a $20 million, one-time investment from the Legislature.
It just so happens, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has led the fight against “corporate welfare” is term-limited and won’t be around when supporters plan to ask for funding for the project next year.
Sponsors of the legislation are hopeful that promoting the bill as a job creator that requires no funding in its first year, they will be able to get the measure past the fiscally conservative Corcoran.