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 . . .
Although the “i” word popped up here and there, and perhaps disproportionate attention was paid to the posturing of Americans for Prosperity, media reaction to yesterday’s Senate Commerce win for SB 1606 was for the most part positive and fair.
The various outlets all speak truth when stating that there is no longer any expectation our bill can become law this session, but rather will serve to spark a conversation and set the stage for next year. Although we hoped to be farther down the road at this juncture, we have always considered this to be a two-year effort with an appropriations request slated for 2019. We still wait to see if any additional progress can be made while legislators remain assembled in Tallahassee; however, it is clear that we must return to building ground level support across the state, preparing to come back even stronger when committee weeks begin next December.
An end of the road in the Senate in February does not nullify the enormous headway made in the upper chamber over the past five months. Likewise, stonewalling by House leadership belies the many new alliances gained among forward-thinking representatives in that body, predictably inhibited this year by the demands of self-preservation, who likely will be more inclined to show support after Election Day. We take stock as the dust settles and know with confidence that, all things considered, our prospects are far more promising for the effort.
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.