Creative Loafing: “Annette Taddeo wants to boost Florida’s film industry”

A handful of films have been shot in Florida in recent years — and some local officials want there to be more.

After all, they can be an economic boon.

In just the Tampa Bay region, flicks like Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale II, Magic Mike, Spring Breakers, The Infiltrator, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and others have all brought out-of-town casts and crews into town, who stayed at local hotels and ate at local restaurants. Plus, all the on-camera exposure may have helped pique audience interest in the region.

But production companies tend to go where the financial incentives are. In Florida, they’re just not here anymore.

In 2010, the Florida legislature had set aside a pot of money dedicated to incentives for companies that shoot films in the Sunshine State. The money — more than $200 million — was gone by 2012, and in 2016, due in part to a Koch Brothers-led campaign to kill film industry incentives in Florida, lawmakers voted to do away with the program.

That’s why a replica of Ybor City, erected in Georgia, starred in Ben Affleck’s Live By Night instead of the real deal.

State Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) hopes to bring back the incentives..

On Wednesday, she unveiled Senate Bill 1606, which she says will bring the moviemakers back to the Sunshine State.

“This bill will create the Florida Motion Picture Capital Corporation, which will be empowered to support film industry projects throughout Florida,” Taddeo said at a press conference in Tallahassee Wednesday. “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. 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.”

Taddeo and others argue that the tax dollars the state dedicated to incentives didn’t disappear into thin air; rather, they led to hiring of locals for various roles and brought in visitors — during production and after — who spent millions (some of which ended up in local and state coffers).

She cited Motion Picture Association of America numbers suggesting that Florida’s motion picture industry created nearly 30,000 direct jobs and paid more than $1 billion in wages. US Department of Labor stats show that those employed in motion picture and video production made an average annual wage of $94,355 in 2015, up from $76,764 in 2005 — prompting Taddeo to call the film industry “crucial” for Florida.