Originally posted on the Bay News 9 website
“The Infiltrator” is wrapping up its Bay area filming. The $47-million film starring Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame tells the story of a 1980s undercover DEA agent in the Tampa underworld.
While the movie is the latest in a string of big-budget productions to film in the Bay area (and the latest since 2012’s “Spring Breakers”), local lawmakers and film commission officials hope it’s not the last.
The arrival of cast and crew members creates a economic boost but there could be some roadblocks to more local productions – namely in the form of incentives.
Local tax incentives of about $250,000 were used to get part of the “The Infiltrator” filmed in the Bay area. Due to better incentives, other parts of the film were shot in Paris and London, with London even filling in for 1980’s-era Tampa.
“The return on investment is amazing,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan. “(The amount) $250,000 really is simply a drop in the bucket. From an economic perspective it makes sense, as a job creator, revenue producer but also as a tourism driver and brand builder for our community.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the state’s tax incentive fund for film production was depleted and the Legislature chose to not to replenish it. That kept the Brad Furman-directed “Infiltrator” from shooting the entire film in the Bay area.
On top of the incentive, the city covered additional costs of the project, including street closures and off-duty police patrols, according to the Times.
Hagan said he hopes state lawmakers will make it easier for production companies to shoot in the Bay area in the future. At least one major production, the Ben Affleck film “Live by Night” is scouting in Ybor City and the Bay area.
But with the Legislature never replenishing the fund, lawmakers are hopeful the measure will come up in a special session.
“It would be shortsighted not to offer some sort of a package,” Hagan said. “Particularly for your big films such as ‘Dolphin Tale,’ ‘The Infiltrator,’ ‘Live by Night’ with Ben Affleck. We’re hoping to induce them to come to our community.”
The cast and crew have been spotted all around the area and have sung its praises. Stars like Cranston have shown up at Rays game and director Furman declared his new found love for the Lightning.
“That’s why I love the Bolts,” Furman said recently during a break in filming. “They’ve welcomed us, they make us feel like home. It’s incredible.”
Stars John Leguizamo and Benjamin Bratt have spent down time in the area and tweeting about Tampa.
“It’s extraordinary, having gone to a Lightning and Rays game with Brad and the film crew, I can tell you how excited they are to film here,” Hagan said. “They told me, our market is conducive to any kind of production. If we could only offer a little bit more on the incentive front we are positioned to explode here with film and digital media.”
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