Film Florida announces the election of the 2015-2016 Board of Directors during the annual meeting (June 28-30, 2015) at The Treasury in St. Augustine, FL. Michelle Hillery, the Deputy Film Commissioner for the Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission (FTC), has been re-elected President of Film Florida.

“It has been a pleasure serving Film Florida as the organization’s President over this past year, and it is a great honor to be re-elected. The experience has been amazingly rewarding, and I am extremely proud of the executive team assembled through hard work, dedication, trust and admiration for each other’s strengths. Without each and every one of them, our Board of Directors, members and supporters, Film Florida’s numerous accomplishments this year would not have been possible. Over the course of this next year we are going to focus on better engaging our new and returning full Board, Councils and Committees to think outside the box…this is the year for BIG IDEAS,” stated Hillery.

The existing Executive Board was also re-elected to all positions, which include:

  • 1st Vice President – Judson C. French, Jr., Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts (Education Council)
  • 2nd Vice President – Kelly Paige, Level Talent Group (Industry Council)
  • Secretary – Herta Suarez, SAG-AFTRA (Labor Council)
  • Treasurer – John Lux, IDEAS (Industry Council)
  • At Large – Sheena Fowler, Women in Film and Television – Florida (Associations Council)
  • Immediate Past President – Leah Sokolowsky, Teamsters Local 769 (Labor Council)

The complete list of elected Board of Directors include:

  • Film Commission Council: Gail Morgan, Emerald Coast Film Commission – Chair; Jeanne Corcoran, Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office – Vice Chair; Bonnie King, Space Coast Film Commission – Secretary; and Alternates: Dale Gordon, Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission; Debbie Meihls, Bradenton Area Film Commission; and Graham Winick, City of Miami Beach.
  • Associations Council: Alex Katsaros, Digital Media Alliance Florida – Chair and Richard Seres, AICP Florida – Vice Chair.
  • Education Council: David Jaffe, Lynn University – Chair; Paul Sirmons, Valencia College – Vice Chair; and Stephen McDowell, Florida State University College of Communication & Information – Secretary.
  • Industry Council: Dawson Peden, Cineverse Miami – Chair; and Lauren O’Quinn, ClassAct Studios – Vice-Chair.
  • Labor Council: Herta Suarez, SAG-AFTRA; and Leah Sokolowsky, representing Teamsters Local 769 will continue to represent on the Film Florida Executive Board as Secretary and Immediate Past President respectively.

The Legislative Committee selected new Co-Chairs Paul Sirmons and Todd Roobin to lead the industry’s continued efforts for state support via a film, television and digital media investment program, working closely with Sen. Nancy Detert and Rep. Mike Miller on legislation. Todd Roobin is the Film Commissioner of the Jacksonville Film & Entertainment Office and former President of Film Florida (2001-2005) and Paul Sirmons is the state’s Former Film Commissioner with the Florida Office of Film & Entertainment (2005-2008) and in his current roll a Florida filmmaker who is currently serving as the Head of the Film Production Department at Valencia College (in memory of the late Film Florida Legend Ralph Clemente). Film Florida is challenging the existing Strategic Futures Committee to explore other avenues and create a road map of growth and opportunity for the state’s entertainment production industry moving forward.

Film Florida has experienced incredible growth and success over the past year, despite the disappointment experienced at the close of the Legislative Special Session when the Florida Legislature eliminated the Entertainment Industry Financial Program from the budget for a third year in a row and reduced the Office of Film & Entertainments (OFE) marketing budget by 40%. This cut threatens the closure of the State’ LA Office and longtime vital employee Susan Simms. Film Florida and the OFE are working in tandem to find solutions to keep this important office open for or entire state.

From rebranding the entire Film Florida organization, to revamping the membership levels and benefits to implementing new marketing and social media plans, Film Florida has evolved as a much stronger organization. Film Florida’s marketing efforts soared after approving a new brand charter that included a logo, improved messaging and the overall look of the organization. In working with the IDEAS Team out of Orlando, Film Florida designed and launched an innovative website and produced a powerful award winning Film Florida demo reel of projects filmed in the state. Branded hats, stickers and magnets were disseminated across the state to help with membership recruitment and marketing efforts, in addition to creating a fresh new Film Florida booth with a flat screen TV for display at industry tradeshows. After moving all finance responsibilities over to Film Florida’s Treasurer, the association established solid fiduciary responsibilities between the President, Treasurer and Executive Board. In addition, Film Florida packaged a new business Board of Directors book, established a fiscally responsible budget, raised more than $10,000 through a successful GoFundMe campaign, maintained and brought in new members, put proper contracts in place and forged new relationships with important organizations like VISIT FLORIDA, the Florida Destination and Marketing Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce just to name a few. Hillery shared, “Our membership is strong, the talent here is diverse and together Film Florida can make a difference for the future of this industry.”