Here’s an article published last week in IndieWire that is a real tough read for Florida’s film community. In “Elections 2018: How the Midterm Results Could Impact Film and TV Production,” writer Chris O’Falt takes a look at four states – Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, and California – from a post-midterm governor’s race perspective. While it’s comforting that O’Falt still considers our state a “major production hub,” the reality is that a new Florida Governor named DeSantis will certainly side with his Republican legislative leadership and not be inclined to push for any changes to the status quo. In whatever guise, under whatever name, any kind of tax dollar giveaway is not likely to get much traction under a DeSantis regime.
Not so with the other three highlighted regions. Georgia’s run on the bank looks sure to continue, although a Kemp administration founded on voter suppression and favoring LGBTQ discrimination holds the potential for a major Hollywood change of heart as regards continuing production in such a repressive environment. With an incoming Democratic governor and the recent Netflix selection of Albuquerque as a production hub, it looks like New Mexico is once again in the catbird’s seat. And California? Will Governor-elect Gavin Newsom take a $1.55 billion program and make it even bigger? Anything is possible in the Land of Milk and Honey.
Just goes to show that Sunshine Staters have to find a different sandbox in which to play. There’s no two ways about it, we must develop something new, something outside-the-box, then start from scratch and build it from there. This coming year will define whether we have the imagination, the will, and the energy to meet the challenge. Not impassible, but surely a bumpy boulder-strewn road lies ahead.
An article released yesterday by Deadline Hollywood writer and astute observer of all things film-related David Robb focuses on Florida’s gubernatorial contest between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis. In “Fate of Florida’s Decimated Film Industry Might Hang on Governor’s Race,” Robb measures Mayor Gillum’s repeated expressions of support for film in Florida against the consistent no comments from candidate DeSantis and, by so doing, alerts the outside world that a Gillum election clearly bodes well for the future of filmmaking in the Sunshine State.
The writer does point out, however, that rebuilding our shattered industry will not be easy for Gillum as Governor, especially in the face of continuing ideological opposition to tax incentives in what is expected to remain a Republican-dominated state legislature. Yet in his concluding paragraph David Robb quotes Film Florida executive director John Lux, who says ” . . . we look to the new Legislative Leadership in Tallahassee to have an open mind . . . ”
This is exactly what is needed, what everyone is working so hard to accomplish through meetings with incumbents and challengers of both political parties and, now just six days out from Election Day, what we’re all beginning to sense may actually be possible. New leaders, new opportunities, a new start.
Chris Ranung with Mayor Andrew Gillum
We rapidly approach the end of an election cycle that promises to create consequential shifts in the statewide political landscape. It’s of course uncertain at this point who will occupy the Governor’s mansion or whether there will be closer parity in the State Senate or a new balance of any significance in the State House. One thing certain for Florida’s film community, however, is the importance of successful campaigns by legislators of both parties who understand our industry and are willing to advocate for its return.
On the Republican side, we can anticipate the return of several key supporters. Soon-to-become Senator Joe Gruters, Senator Travis Hutson, and Representatives Holly Raschein, Chris Latvala, and Julio Gonzalez come to mind. This video from Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, who is favored in the polls to ascend to the District 93 House seat, introduces a new potential champion of our issues.
We are pleased to see this evolution, hopeful that in the 2019 legislature there will be more dialogue in both chambers on the importance of film to Florida and an increasing willingness by House and Senate leadership to work together and craft a course of action that will rebuild Florida motion picture production. The final votes will be counted soon; then the real work can begin again.
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.