As the new President of Film Florida, I wanted to share how eager I am to serve this organization and lead our efforts for Florida’s film, television, and digital media production industry. It has been an educational experience and pleasure to serve as 2nd Vice President last year after serving in various roles on the Film Commission Council in the years prior to that. These previous years of service have prepared me for the new challenges ahead that will propel Film Florida’s success in the future.
Before talking more about the future, I want to reflect on the recent past. Last month, Film Florida had the opportunity to hold our Annual Meeting on the beautiful Emerald Coast in Northwest Florida. We had the pleasure of spending time in both Destin and Fort Walton Beach and couldn’t have been more impressed with the hospitality. The entire Annual Meeting was based out of the Film Florida member Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village. Not only was the entire resort wonderful, every detail for our meeting was taken care of flawlessly. Special thanks to Emerald Coast Film Commissioner Gail Morgan for her attention to detail and for getting her industry to come out in force to welcome us.
I also wanted to thank our Immediate Past President, Kelly Paige. Kelly has shown tremendous leadership over the last year and continued the positive path for the organization that our previous Presidents have laid the ground work for. I am hoping some of her grit and determination will rub off on me as I lean on her for her experience and input as we forge ahead.
As an organization, we have numerous goals and we hope you will participate with us. Over the last year, we have added over 100 new members to our organization. That is, by far, the largest increase in membership over a year in our organization’s history. That shows the commitment everyone has to growing and strengthening our industry. We look forward to continued growth along with the next step, which is further engagement from our entire organization and industry. One initiative we have over the next year is increased community outreach and programming activities. You will see Film Florida in more places and doing more in our local communities and we hope you will spend time with us.
We have developed some tremendous partnerships over the last couple of years with organizations such as VISIT FLORIDA; Florida TaxWatch; and the Florida Chamber of Commerce just to name a few. These partnerships will help strengthen our efforts to put Floridians back to work at home; generate new revenues for the state; and enhance tourism. We believe these are important steps toward growing and diversifying our economy.
In 2014, Film Florida added a student membership category to bring in the youngest members of our industry. As that group continues to grow, in the coming months, we will be calling on those students, and others from the next generation of industry professionals, to contribute through our young professionals advisory group. With the industry going through technical, philosophical and creative changes on a daily basis, it’s important that those driving those changes have a voice in our organization so we look forward to hearing from those members.
As we have noted previously, the most recent legislative session was a positive one for our industry, achieving all four of our legislative priorities. Film Florida determined that the top priority was to fight the proposed tax increase on our industry; keep the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment open, securing a full time position for the Los Angeles office; and ensuring the message that Florida is open for business and remains interested in recruiting films and television shows to our state is conveyed around the world. In addition, we also helped ensure talent agencies remained regulated in Florida, protecting the most vulnerable in our industry. Last Friday the Governor signed the budget securing our legislative priorities. While there is a special session scheduled for this week, nothing included in the special session agenda will impact any of our priorities so we are officially all clear.
Florida’s independent film and commercial production continues to thrive in Florida, along with the growing tech clusters throughout the state, and we look forward to further enhancing those aspects of our industry. While a state-wide program to entice projects and companies to Florida is still a challenge, a number of cities and counties in Florida now have local programs and we believe more will follow as they see the positive impact our industry has on a community. We will continue to work on ways to keep and/or bring more work and jobs to Florida.
We hope to provide you with many successful, educational, and enjoyable opportunities in Florida’s production industry, and we thank you so much for your continued support moving forward. Please mark your calendar for our next Quarterly Meeting, tentatively scheduled for August 27 – 28 in Hollywood, Florida. We invite all Film Florida members to participate in the committee and council meetings on August 27th and as always, our Board of Directors meeting on August 28th is open to the public.
President, Film Florida