ORLANDO, FL – On Friday, over a dozen state legislators joined key decision-makers and a crowd of over two hundred (200) people for an intensive and sometimes passionate lesson from film, television and digital media production experts in Orlando. The economic importance of the entertainment production industries to the State of Florida, and the increasing role that production incentives play in attracting and growing this important industry were among some of the topics discussed.
Film Florida, the statewide trade association representing the various interests of the entertainment production industries throughout the State, organized the legislative forum. The crowd comprised of professional crew, business owners and stakeholder partners who work in the entertainment production business attended, applauding frequently as expert panelists stressed the importance of Florida’s incentive and how vital it is to selecting locations for their projects both short and long-term.
Film Florida is organizing a series of five industry forums and workshops across the state. The purpose of these events is to identify the most effective strategies that will help to create a consistent public policy which will allow the industry to achieve both short-term and long-term sustainable solutions for growing the film, television, digital media and other entertainment production industries throughout the State of Florida.
Several renowned panelists stressed the importance of Florida maintaining its entertainment production incentive program in addition to maintaining a stable and reliable business climate for the film, television and digital media production industries.
“I advise all Disney business units (on production planning)” said Mary Ann Hughes, Vice President of Film & Television Production Planning for the Walt Disney Company. “Unless there is an overwhelming creative need to be at a specific location, if you don’t have an incentive you are not on the map.”
“A business person will hesitate to hire more employees or build permanent infrastructure in Florida if they feel the market for their services could be pulled out from under them next year,” said Jud French, Film Florida executive board member, CEO of The Nexxt Group and workshop co-moderator.
Hughes said Florida has already lost business by not having available production incentives this year. If the deficit extends to two years, “you are going to lose crew and vendors, and it’s hard to build that up again.”
Craig Hagen, Corporate Director of Governmental Affairs for Electronic Arts/EA Sports said, “what the Florida legislature does matters. It matters because whether we’re going to retain and create more jobs depends on whether Florida has a competitive production incentive or not. EA will invest over $80 million in Florida this year, creating hundreds of high-skill, high-wage jobs because of great talent and a competitive production incentive.”
“It is critical for your state to stay in the game,” said Dama Claire, Ease Entertainment’s expert on state tax credits and incentives. “People want to produce their projects in Florida. I have tell them the Florida production incentives are exhausted.”
Film Florida will evaluate the input from its five forums and workshops and use it to shape a strategic plan for building the industry long-term in Florida. Members will travel to Tallahassee over the next few months and during the next legislative session to educate legislators and advocate on behalf of the entertainment production industries; the short-term goals are to create consistency and obtain funding for the current incentive program to enhance Florida’s competitiveness and insure it is running in the most efficient manner possible, providing the greatest benefit possible to all Floridians.
“We need to stop fighting for year-to-year survival and start thinking about a long-term future that includes the entertainment production industries in Florida’s larger plan to diversify and expand its business portfolio” stated Film Florida President Leah Sokolowsky. “Funding and consistency are the first steps necessary to provide thousands of 21st century high-wage, high skilled jobs to Florida families and developing workforce throughout the State.”
Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando, was presented with an appreciation award for his efforts and leadership role in developing the Florida Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive program.
Film Florida is a not-for-profit corporation that provides a leadership role in Florida’s film and entertainment industries by representing a coalition of interests, including private industry, local film commissions, industry associations, educational facilities and labor organizations. Its purpose is to offer to businesses and individuals the benefits of a statewide trade association to promote the creation of jobs in the film and entertainment production industries and to promote economic development and tourism. For more information about Film Florida, please visit our website at www.filmflorida.org.