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Florida Lawmakers Push To Receive More Film Incentive Programs

Hermes Rivera

Advocates for film and TV are trying to revive Florida’s incentive programs. They say the state can’t afford to be without it.

Some lawmakers want to revive film and TV industry productions in the sunshine state. They say these industries create more high paying jobs and increase tourism.

The Florida Office of Film and Entertainment wants to use a combination of public and private sector money to continue national and international marketing of the state. Film Florida executive director, John Lux, says a lack of public money is causing productions to leave.

“Right now the private sector is doing everything they possibly can to help bring projects here but ultimately those efforts have a hard time competing with the vastness of full state programs that they get in other states, so we are missing the one piece of the puzzle that is just the public sector to support the industry," he said. 

Lex says the main reason Florida isn’t attracting the film industry is because it’s not economically appealing.

“We are the only state in the southeast and one of only 17 states in America that don’t offer some sort of economic program to entice film and television projects. While we have wonder weather, location, infrastructure and history at a certain point it’s a value proposition."

The Florida Senate is moving forward with a resolution in support of Florida’s film industry. Sen. Joe Gruters says the residual value lasts long after filming is over and would serve as a marketing opportunity.

“We have some of the best film schools across the state, mentioning, Full Sail, Florida State, Ringling College, we have production facilities that are sitting idle, empty, that used to be full, we have a couple in my area,” said Gruters. 

Also backing a film incentive revivial is Democratic Sen. Victor Torres. 

“I just think it’s about time Florida, don’t let your jobs let go to another state. You’re always comparing to what Georgia does, Texas does or whatever. We can make the money, we can produce, and we’ve been making the money for years."

The state has allowed tax incentives for companies who are producing shows and movies in Florida. But, a large portion of those incentives ended three years ago.

According to a staff analysis of a resolution endorsing film incentives,  during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, 954 companies signed up for a tax exemption. That created at least 32,000 Florida jobs and the state gained $1 billion in funding. 

Gabrielle Bolden is a fourth year broadcast journalism major attending Florida A&M University from Jacksonville, FL. Bolden is an aspiring multimedia producer. She previously served as a producer for News 20 at Five airing to at least 80,000 households, creating engaging content weekly. She pitched and wrote articles as a staff reporter for The FAMUAN Newspaper. She also produced the 2018 Election Night Special for News 20 at Five, covering state and local election races. Bolden interned for WCTV-Eyewitness News (CBS) producing a multimedia project covering the devastating wildfires in Eastpoint, Florida.