Dear Film Florida Members, Stakeholders, and Friends ~
First, I want to say how honored I am to have been re-elected for a third year as President of Film Florida. When I was first elected in June of 2020, little did we know what the next two years would be like. Our organization, our industry and our state have persevered through challenging times and I’m looking forward to leading Film Florida once again the next year.
Before talking more about the future, I want to reflect on the recent past. Last month, Film Florida held our Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale. I want to thank Film Florida member Brandstar Studios for hosting our Welcome Reception on Wednesday June 22nd. If you haven’t seen Brandstar’s LED Volume Stage I highly recommend you find a reason to stop by. We appreciate everyone that came out to be with us, including a number of local and state legislators. Thursday June 23rd was a full day of meetings including our Industry & Association Council, Labor Council, Education Council, Film Commission Council, Legislative Committee and Strategic Futures Committee. Thursday evening Film Florida members were invited out for some Broward County sightseeing so out of towners could see and learn more about Broward County. Finally, our Board of Directors Meeting was on Friday June 24th where the new Film Florida Executive Board and Board of Directors was announced. A lot of the core remains on the Board of Directors from the previous year but I’m also excited to have new names and faces on our Board.
As many of you know, marketing, networking and professional development are the staple of Film Florida’s mission. Our top priority has been and will always be to market the state of Florida, the industry, and our members to attract more opportunities to help grow and strengthen the industry while diversifying Florida’s economy. Our focus will always be to convey the message that Florida is open for business and interested in competing for high-wage jobs in the film, television and digital media production industry.
On the marketing front, our best sales and marketing tool is ourselves. In-person opportunities have suffered the past two years but those are coming back. A staple of our marketing efforts is our sales missions to tell the Florida story and bring projects and companies to Florida. While we have participated in a few in person events the last two years, we hope to get back to a “normal” schedule of our sales missions outside Florida. We will continue to offer packages to select sales missions to both members and non-members. Whether you are part of Film Florida or not, be on the lookout for special packages in the future so you can help spread the message that “Florida is open for business!”
We’ve been asked why we participate in out of state events, as opposed to in-state events. We do both! We go where potential content creators and partners are, whether that’s in Florida or elsewhere. It’s extremely important that our members, and non-members, have the opportunity meet locally and to travel outside Florida to promote the state to worldwide content creators. These networking opportunities are vital for local film commissioners and industry professionals to meet and connect with potential partners and clients. It’s also important to note that when Film Florida coordinates for the out of state events, the organization is NOT paying for those to attend. We coordinate so group discounts are available for those paying for the trips.
Out of state efforts cannot and will not take away from our commitment to Film Florida member film festivals. These in-state events can be just as effective for networking, professional development and promoting the industry while at a significantly lower price point. We encourage you to watch for these events in our newsletters and on our social media pages throughout the year. Local film festivals are positive economic drivers for communities and allow areas to show off to those traveling from elsewhere. Film Florida takes great pride in supporting those film festivals that support our organization through their membership.
Independent film, made for TV movie, and commercial production continue to do well in Florida, and we look forward to further enhancing those aspects of our industry. While a statewide program to entice projects and companies to Florida remains a challenge, there are 6 counties (Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Pinellas Counties), as well as additional local entities with some form of local program to enhance production work in their region. These programs are seeing excellent return on investment with the increased number of projects in their regions. CLICK HERE to learn more about the various programs. We will continue to work on ways, both on the state and local level, to keep and/or bring more opportunities to Florida. Florida also offers an entertainment industry sales tax exemption. We encourage everyone to take advantage of the program, CLICK HERE for more information and to apply. Be on the lookout soon for an “all call” regarding the Sales Tax Exemption Program to ensure that program continues to help Florida’s production community.
Speaking of statewide, as you are probably aware, it’s an election year. This November, Florida will elect 160 legislators to Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives. On the advice of our Government Relations team, we are in the midst of a massive effort to contact every new candidate running for office in the Florida Senate and Florida House, and we look forward to passing that information on to you. If you are interested in being actively involved in educating people running for state office about who our industry is, what we do, and how we can be an essential part of diversifying Florida’s economy, please respond to this e-mail at info@FilmFlorida.org with your home address so we can give you information about your candidates. We will make sure you are prepared and understand the task. We just need your help with execution. If everyone will spend just 1 hour on this task, the future will be much better for our industry. We HIGHLY ENCOURAGE everyone to help educated current and future legislators about our industry.
It’s worth noting that due to the 2020 census, all 160 Senate and House districts in Florida have new boundary lines. That means the legislators you voted for in the previous election may not be the candidates on the ballot this year. It’s important that you educate yourself on your candidates along with your new districts.
In addition to our efforts on the state and local levels to help our industry, Film Florida continues to support Florida filmmakers through the Florida Emerging Filmmakers Fund, the Don Davis Finishing Fund and the Sara Fuller Scholarship. The grants and scholarships provide cash in the amount of $1,000 – $2,000 per project to deserving filmmakers needing help for their film projects. Recent recipients have had successful runs on the film festival circuit and are showing great promise for the future.
If you haven’t participated previously, the summer is a great time to catch up on editions of 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. These conversations take place one Friday each month at 9:30am ET on Zoom, where industry professionals and up-and-comers are encouraged to gather with a cup of coffee, ask questions and speak directory with industry leaders. Film Florida Friday is off for the summer but look for new topics starting in September. CLICK HERE to view previous editions of Film Florida Friday.
The Summertime is also a great time to catch up on episodes of the Film Florida Podcast. The Film Florida Podcast wrapped season 4 in May. Film Florida has produced 93 episodes of the podcast with season 5 slated to return in September. The Film Florida Podcast is available on Apple, Google, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and on the Film Florida website. Please make sure you subscribe, rate and review the podcast.
As an organization, we have numerous goals and exciting initiatives for the next year and beyond, and we hope you will participate with us. Even through the pandemic, our organization continues to grow. The last five years has seen tremendous growth for Film Florida, more than doubling our membership in that time. That shows the commitment everyone has to growing and strengthening our industry. Without that support from our members, we are not able to provide the representation that we do throughout the year. We are eternally grateful for the continued support. 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 receive a gift package as well.
I appreciate your engagement, participation, and support and look forward to serving as Film Florida President for another year.
President, Film Florida