Legislative support growing for Florida film incentive bill

Published: March 19, 2015 5:36 PM EDT
Updated: March 19, 2015 5:39 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lights, camera, but not so much action.

The action is coming to a near standstill for an industry that used to be vibrant in Florida. Feature filmmakers are going elsewhere for their shooting locations.

The film industry has pretty much abandoned Florida ever since nearly $300 million in incentives ran out a couple of years ago.

“They may go to that other state, instead of Florida. That’s happening now since there really are no incentives now for the film industry,” said Dreamtime Entertainment producer Dave Beaty.

Florida used to dominate as a setting for films, with beaches and big cities for backgrounds. Nine years ago,  Florida ranked third in America in film, after California and New York. However, in 2014, lawmakers failed to budget any money for incentives.

Now Louisiana and Georgia, states with aggressive marketing and generous incentives, have bumped Florida as film locations.

“I think it’s very frustrating to the technical people, and the people involved in film in Florida,” said Beaty. “We need to be more competitive.”

Right now, a bill with $50 million in incentives is working through the legislature. Some critics call it a Hollywood handout. But Dreamtime Entertainment in Cape Coral says it would bring back a lot of jobs.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of people here who are highly skilled, who’ve been trained at our universities, they live here,” said Beaty, “they can work on these feature films.

Beaty and others in production point out the $300 million, budgeted five years ago, created more than $1 billion in economic boost for the state. They believe getting back in the feature film game, depends on what the lawmakers do, in the session that ends May 1.