It is important that the governor and the members of the Legislature realize the importance of the film and TV incentives program which benefits Florida’s economy.

Movies and TV shows filmed in Florida are a perpetual means of advertising for the state and help attract millions of visitors from all over the world. Cases in point, the TV series “Flipper” and “Gentle Ben” are still being shown world wide, after 50 years. “Miami Vice” literally changed South Beach’s image from a bunch of low-rent hotels to a destination with multimillion art deco resorts. Feature films, such as “Absence of Malice” starring Paul Newman, were shot 100 percent in Florida. It is still being shown on TV worldwide after 35 years. When the state creates a TV commercial about Florida, it is obsolete within months, whereas TV series and feature films advertise Florida for countless years. These examples are just a few of the 100s of productions made in Florida that are perpetually showing off the beauty of the state.

I know firsthand, because I still receive emails from all over the world, about the more than a dozen films I made in Florida. Not only did dropping the incentive program put hundreds of Floridians out of work, but it hurt restaurants, catering services, dry cleaning facilities, auto rental agencies, film rental houses, etc. — all who benefited from the film business.

Georgia’s film incentives brought in close to $1 billion last year and benefited the state’s overall economy. Louisiana’s incentive program has so much film and TV business, they have to import crews and equipment from other states. Hollywood and out-of-state producers save tons of money by hiring local crews and not having to pay big per diem fees to out-of-state crew. Florida used to be the Hollywood of the East. Let’s return to that status for all Floridians.

William Grefe, Sunshine Ranches