Earlier today, Representative David Silvers (D – District 87, West Palm Beach) introduced HB 341, revised legislation to create the Florida Motion Picture Capital Corporation (FMPCC).
Hurricane Irma delayed the start of interim committee weeks in Tallahassee and cancelled the entire first scheduled week of meetings in September. From the moment the storm moved through Florida, state legislators have justifiably been intent on the many issues generated in its aftermath and, for a while, everything else has seemed at a standstill. But as activity at the Capitol is now rapidly picking up speed, COMPASS has moved quickly to secure a position at the forefront of new bill filings. Being early out of the gate this year means we can now concentrate on building legislative and business support for this powerful bill well in advance of the start of the 2018 session in January. We’ve learned that the clock is always ticking in Tallahassee: it’s certainly high time now to get back to work!
Link here to access the House website and original filed version of HB 341. Close reading will reveal that we have enhanced strengths first developed in its predecessor version, addressed questions that arose at last year’s Senate Commerce Committee meeting, and more clearly defined the bill as an evergreen financing vehicle designed with a focus on capital preservation above all else. We are confident that the FMPCC offers a viable alternative to tax credit incentives – which are off the table in Florida and meeting increasing opposition in other parts of the country – at just the moment when a new option for financing motion picture production is definitely needed.
The first interim committee week of the 2017-18 legislative session begins in Tallahassee on September 11th and COMPASS will be there. We have already secured House sponsorship and have our bill in drafting, where various changes and tweaks are being adopted in response to the questions and concerns we heard from legislators last year. As of this posting, we are also in the process of securing Senate sponsorship. The bill will be tighter and stronger and certainly much sooner out of the gate this time around.
Over the summer, meanwhile, we have seen a variety of local incentives spring up as Florida’s counties and municipalities struggle to retain production in their regions. After many months of public hearings and behind the scenes maneuvering, Miami Dade County finally approved its Entertainment Production Incentive Program in late July. Hillsborough, Sarasota, and Pinellas counties have long been committed players as well, each with strong local resources available to attract production. The City of North Miami, the City of Miami Beach, and possibly soon the City of Doral offer combinations of reimbursement and in-kind incentives. There are more small, localized efforts all across the state, coupled most importantly with an increasing awareness that filmmaking is a Florida industry that warrants protection and nurturing. All of this adds up, signaling to the production world that the Sunshine State is still “open for business.”
But of course, if we’re going to get back into the mix for sustained and substantial production, we need more. COMPASS is putting forward legislation to create a business-savvy approach to stabilizing and rebuilding our industry. It’s modest. It makes sense. It’s really pretty simple. And it’s attracting new support with every passing week. Naysayers abound, as always. But we say we can – and we must – get it done this year!
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.