The facts speak for themselves in this good article from Florida Today, “Should ‘Florida’ movies be made outside Florida?” However, it’s certainly debatable whether outgoing Governor Rick Scott “has been a fairly good producer for the film and entertainment industry in the Sunshine State.”
Our state continues to get its clock cleaned, losing Florida-themed shows and millions of production dollars to incentives havens across the country, in particular Georgia and California. The downside began under Rick Scott’s tenure and has only accelerated over recent years due to the tenacity of conservative opposition, the bull-headedness of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and the unwillingness of our Governor – at any point over his two long terms – to make a stand and defend this historically important Florida industry.
So what’s the moral of this story? Look ahead everybody . . . to November.
Reporter Wayne T. Price makes a key point in his article by asserting that “a looming question for the industry is where dozens of new legislators and a new governor will stand on incentives for Florida’s film and entertainment industry.” Who the new governor and those new legislators will be is up to us. In just six months we can help our industry by voting in the mid-term elections. So it’s now time for every advocate of Florida film to look locally, evaluate upcoming primaries, and identify and support state Senate and House candidates who will work on our behalf.
And it’s now time to look statewide, to identify and support a candidate for governor who will fight for us.
The next six months is our critical window to meet potential candidates in person and grill them on where they stand – will they fight for our jobs, will they help rebuild our infrastructure, do they believe in us? Then we must take it one step further: ultimately when we decide which ones warrant our support, that support must be active and visible.
Once again, it’s election season in Florida. The work is just beginning.
An article just posted in the Miami Herald entitled “South Florida wants another ‘Moonlight” provides extensive coverage of efforts at the county and city levels to attract motion picture projects back to Miami Dade. It confirms what we already know: that there is real desire on the part of regional, county, and municipal leaders to restore production in key areas across our state. Florida’s film community would do well to actively endorse these initiatives as they, however small, can generate badly-needed jobs and provide some stability to support businesses while the push continues to create a state-level program capable of rebuilding our shattered industry.
We are pleased that Senator Taddeo and the COMPASS effort are referenced in the last paragraphs. Going forward, it will be essential for the message to be widely circulated that Florida values this historically important industry and is willing to work hard to bring it back, and that – with the help of Senator Taddeo and Representatives Silvers and Gruters and other legislators who stood strong with us all through this past year – we won’t quit until movies and television shows are once again filming in every corner of the Sunshine State.
We’ve long been aware that small-minded intransigence from the conservative fringe is fueling legislative opposition to any effort to revitalize Florida’s film industry; however, it’s always enlightening to see it disgorged in print. Having previously commended Senators Dana Young and Kelli Stargel for their “no” votes against SB 1606 last week, Americans for Prosperity doubled down this morning with yet another press release and “thank you” mailer. Pity the politicians who toady to such prattle in order to shield their flanks from right-wing primary challenges. Hopefully, the many filmworkers who live in their districts, with their families and friends, will help spread truth about the Florida Motion Picture Capital Corporation as November elections approach.
Logically, of course, a pragmatic financing program based on capital preservation and seeded by taxpayer dollars, a penny-wise program for productions where every dollar is spent on the project and does not flow upwards to fat-cat executives and Hollywood stars, a carefully-vetted program that prioritizes indigenous production companies and feature films of modest budget as a means of creating much-needed jobs for Floridians and generating significant economic activity in communities throughout the state – that program becomes cronyism, wasteful spending, corporate welfare, and “handouts for Hollywood” as explained by our friends at Americans for Prosperity. But this is how they play . . .
COMPASS Chair, Chris Ranung is twenty-plus years a filmworker and president of Local 477 of the I.A.T.S.E. – the AFL-CIO affiliated labor union that represents working crew in Florida: grips, lighting technicians, paint & scenic, wardrobe, construction and propmakers, craft service personnel, greens, set dressing, special effects technicians, sound mixers and sound department personnel, studio teachers, animal wranglers, first aid, the marine department and much more.
Chris believes ardently that Florida’s film community – its actors, working crew, production teams, supplementary personnel, support businesses – ranks among the best in the United States. He sees COMPASS as the necessary vehicle to reinvigorate production and restore jobs, revenue, and dignity to the Florida men and women who work in motion picture production and the Florida small businesses that sustain this historically important Florida industry.