As the new President of Film Florida, I am honored to serve this organization and continue our efforts for Florida’s film, television, and digital media production industry. I have been a proud member of Film Florida for many years. It has been an educational experience and pleasure to serve as 1st Vice President for the last three years and previously as the 2nd Vice President, Board Member and Alternate Board Member representing the Film Commission Council in addition to participating on numerous Film Florida Member Committees. I feel prepared for the new challenges ahead to help propel Film Florida’s future success.

Before talking more about the future, I want to reflect on the recent past. Last month, Film Florida held our Annual Meeting in Key West. I was happy to present our outgoing President Gail Morgan, a beautiful vase showing our appreciation for her three years of service as President. Much of Gail’s presidency coincided with the pandemic and Gail was a calming influence during turbulent times and helped guide Film Florida to new heights. Please join me in thanking Gail for her service to Film Florida and our industry.

Additionally, a huge thanks to our annual meeting host, Chad Newman, the Florida Keys Film Commissioner. Chad was meticulous to ensure a successful annual meeting. We spent close to twenty hours in seven different meetings including a four-hour Board Member Workshop examining both short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities for the organization and the industry (photo right).

Looking forward, I can say wholeheartedly, FLORIDA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Our industry is resilient despite the numerous challenges we continue to face and work to overcome. Film Florida is committed to our members. We will continue to grow our presence as a worldwide production destination, as well as nurture our home-grown talent projects.

We aim to grow the collaborative and supportive effort our industry shows towards each other as well as to visiting productions and clients. We hope to enhance the network of local film offices by mentoring and nurturing less experienced commissioners, while fostering regional and statewide partnerships to make Florida desirable for all size projects. While our state may lack certain financial incentives, we do not lack the ability to provide great service which results in return clients.

The past legislative session has left uncertainty within the State Film Commission. Film Florida continues to support a presence for our industry at the state level but regardless of how that transition and restructuring plays out, our organization is ready to support the industry as needed. The entertainment industry sales tax exemption program is intact but now will be serviced by the Florida Department of Commerce (formerly the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity). A very important note: the numerous local film commissions throughout the state are available and will continue to provide essential services to our industry.

Film Florida is in a unique place in that statewide, our membership includes students, industry professionals and businesses, ancillary businesses, local film commissions and educational institutions that work together to better our industry. We want to protect jobs for our seasoned professionals while ensuring the next generation is ready to step in so we can maintain and enhance our workforce. It’s vital that we identify strengths and weaknesses in our workforce and have an accurate assessment of our statewide crew.

Film Florida is the chief advocate for our industry on the local and statewide level. While we have had some important victories in recent years, passing a statewide program has been elusive despite having solid bi-partisan support. We are tasked with finding a different, fresh and creative approach to get traction in Tallahassee. This remains a top priority.

Film Florida’s is proud to support Florida-based filmmakers through the Florida Emerging Filmmakers Fund, the Don Davis Finishing Fund and the Sara Fuller Scholarship. The grants and scholarships provide cash to deserving filmmakers needing help for their projects. This past year Film Florida awarded $12,500 in grants and scholarships to Florida filmmakers.

As a Marketing organization, we will continue to promote our industry and our state through in-person marketing opportunities, both in Florida and worldwide. Our best sales and marketing tool is ourselves. Film Florida completed many successful sales missions this year, but we need more participation to spread the message that “Florida is open for business!” Be on the lookout for special packages in the future and join us!

These out-of-state networking opportunities are vital for local film commissioners and industry professionals to meet and connect with potential partners and clients (Tribeca Film Festival photo right). As a colleague of ours says, “you must be present to win.” Therefore, our presence at these networking events is vital to develop relationships with industry decisionmakers. It’s important to note: when Film Florida coordinates out of state events, it DOES NOT pay for those to attend. Film Florida coordinates group discounts to make the events more affordable for those paying for the trips.

We are committed to Film Florida member film festivals/events. There are now 21 film festivals/conferences that are members. These in-state events are effective for networking, professional development and promoting the industry while at a significantly lower price point. Local film festivals are positive economic drivers for communities and are tremendous networking opportunities. Film Florida takes great pride in supporting these film festivals that support our organization through their membership. We look forward to attracting more Florida-based film festivals to become members, so we can assist with promoting your festival year-round.

Film Florida’s ultimate end game is to create jobs and infuse new money into businesses for Floridians through its members’ efforts. Please join us in this effort!

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to serve as Film Florida President and I look forward to collaborating with you to make our industry stronger.

Sandy Lighterman
President, Film Florida

Just so you know…

The summer is a great time to catch up on Film Florida Friday. Film Florida Fridays are free interactive conversations about current topics, initiatives and relationship-building in Florida’s film, television, commercial, photography and digital media industry (photo right). CLICK HERE to view previous editions of Film Florida Friday, new editions will be back in September. The Summer is also a great time to catch up on episodes of the Film Florida Podcast. The Film Florida Podcast wrapped season 5 in May and has produced 110 episodes. The Film Florida Podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Podbean, iHeartRadio, Pandora and on the Film Florida website. Season 6 will be back in September.

Our organization continues to grow. Individuals and companies continue to join Film Florida at an astounding rate. That shows the commitment everyone has to growing and strengthening our industry. If you’re not a member of Film Florida, we hope you’ll consider joining. Film Florida is a not-for-profit association run by volunteer members that represent all sectors of the film, television, production and digital media/tech industry throughout Florida. The organization is the chief marketing and legislative advocate for Florida’s for TV, film, and digital media industry. Our goal is to Unite, Inspire and Innovate to build a more robust and retentive industry in Florida. As a not-for-profit, we are funded entirely by our members so our ability to work on behalf of the industry is completely dependent upon the support we receive through our membership efforts. If you’re not a member, we encourage you to join Film Florida and get involved to ensure your voice is heard. Corporate memberships start at $500, individual memberships are just $75 and student memberships are just $25. All new and renewing members in 2023 receive a free Film Florida t-shirt.