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Florida Matters: Florida's Film Industry

A film crew at work
Film Tampa Bay

This week on Florida Matters we talk about how the state’s film industry has fared since the loss of a tax incentive program and how it can survive in the future.

Editor's note: This show originally aired Oct. 30 and will air again this week. The re-broadcast has been edited to exclude information regarding the midterm election.

Several years ago, films like “Magic Mike” and “Dolphin Tale,” and TV shows like Netflix’s “Bloodline” and HBO’s “Ballers,” kept those who worked in Florida’s film industry very busy.

But after the state ended its tax credit program for filmmakers in 2016, fewer big productions have been shot here, with some existing projects leaving Florida for states that still offer lucrative incentives like Georgia. Some who work in the industry fear as time passes, critical production infrastructure and labor forces in Florida may relocate elsewhere.

But Florida’s film industry continues to survive, due in part to filmmakers passionate about the state and to local governments that offer their own incentives. Since the state incentive program ended, Florida has continued to host some critically-acclaimed films like “Moonlight,” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2016, and 2017’s  “The Florida Project.”  

Even with a decline in big-budget films and TV series, counties are finding success in other areas of production. Hillsborough County, for example, has seen a growth in commercial productions. Other places in the Tampa Bay area are attracting reality TV shows.

Joining us to talk about what’s working for the state and what more could be done to revitalize the film industry in Florida are:

Tyler Martinolich, Executive Director of the Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission, known asFilm Tampa Bay

Jimmy Geurts, a reporter with the Sarasota Herald Tribune who published a special two-part series on Florida’s film industry

Tony Stopperan, a filmmaker based in Sarasota County

You can hear more conversation about Florida’s film industry on our podcast Florida Matters More.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Robin Sussingham was Senior Editor at WUSF until September 2020.
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