As things ramp back up in the first full week of 2020, I wanted to reach out with a quick look back on 2019 as well as look forward to 2020. First, I wanted to thank our members for their continued support. Film Florida is funded entirely by our members so our ability to advocate, promote, and provide important professional development and networking opportunities is completely dependent upon the support of our members. Without that support from our members, we are not able to provide the representation that we do throughout the year. Our membership continues to grow which allows us to be more active and we are grateful for the confidence our members have shown in our work. If you’re not a member, we encourage you to join Film Florida and get involved to ensure your voice is heard.
2019 was a very successful year for Film Florida. We added the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West to our regular tour of “sales missions.” We are thrilled to provide an opportunity for our members (oftentimes at discounted rates) to attend events such as NATPE, SXSW, Tribeca, Produced By, Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Toronto International Film Festival, along with our two new sales missions. These events are the most effective ways for members to have face-time with decision-makers and encourage them to come to Florida to produce content.
We realize many don’t have the resources available to travel nationwide to attend these sales missions, which is why in the last year+ we have put a renewed emphasis on promoting our member film festivals as local sales missions. Filmmakers from around the world attend film festivals in Florida so we encourage everyone to pay attention to our social media pages and our newsletter highlighting and promoting those Florida-based film festivals that are members of Film Florida. These in-state events can be just as effective for networking, professional development and promoting the industry while at a significantly lower price point. We have made a commitment to help promote the growing number of member film festivals since they have made the commitment to our organization by supporting our efforts.
In addition to nationwide and Florida-based sales missions, a priority continues to be to have more of a presence in the local communities through a variety of professional development and networking opportunities. Whether it is official Film Florida events like our Drone Seminar in April 2019, the Florida Film/Digital Focus (F3, with Women in Film & Television Florida) in October 2019, meet ups that we co-hosted with members over the summer, or partnering with our members that are hosting their own events, our goal is to provide a variety of opportunities for industry professionals.
As you hopefully know, the Film Florida Podcast is currently in season 2. The podcast highlights the people and stories that make-up the multi-billion dollar industry in Florida and gives listeners an authentic, insider’s view from the leaders themselves who have forged their way through this industry. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Store, Stitcher, the iHeartRadio app and on the Film Florida website. Please make sure you subscribe, rate and review the podcast.
Although some of our legislative efforts get more attention, Film Florida, at its core, is a marketing and professional development organization. Our top priority has been and will always be to market the state of Florida, the industry, and our members as a way of bringing more projects, jobs and money to Florida to help grow and strengthen the industry. Regardless of the state of incentives in Florida, or elsewhere, our focus will always be to convey the message that Florida is open for business and interested in competing for high-wage jobs in the film, television and digital media industry.
That said, because our membership, and the industry overall in Florida, has said legislative issues are important to them, we continue to focus on those efforts as well. Florida’s independent film and commercial production continue 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. There are now 7 counties (Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties, all members of Film Florida), and 2 cities (Miami Beach, North Miami) with some form of program to enhance production work in their region. These local programs are seeing excellent return on investment with the increased number of projects in their regions. CLICK HERE to learn more about the local programs. Florida also offers an entertainment industry sales tax exemption. We encourage everyone to take advantage of the program, CLICK HERE for more information and to apply.
From the statewide perspective, the 2020 Legislative Session begins on January 14 and is scheduled to end on March 13, 2020 and Film Florida is advocating for bills already filed for session. SB 530 from Senator Joe Gruters (R- Sarasota) and HB 497 from Rep James Buchanan (R- Sarasota) would create the Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program. SB 530 has already passed favorably out of one committee. Film Florida, along with our Government Relations firm, is making efforts daily to get the bills on additional committee agendas. While a bill has not passed in recent years, great progress has been made with building relationships with legislators. Our membership has done a tremendous job, on a completely volunteer basis, meeting with legislators to help educate them on the importance of the film, television and digital media industry. Our goal continues to be to build relationships with legislators that put our industry in the best position for success in Tallahassee. Notable progress has been made the last two years in significantly building momentum, engaging in encouraging conversation and garnering positive media coverage for the industry. With the continued help and support from groups like Florida TaxWatch, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), and the Florida Chamber of Commerce just to name a few, we will continue to push legislators to pass a program that helps the industry while provides a positive return on investment to Florida taxpayers.
As you can see, 2019 was a busy year for Film Florida and 2020 is shaping up to be even more active. Once again, we want to thank our members for their ongoing support, and encourage those that aren’t members to get on board. Finally, special thanks to our Executive Director John Lux, who is able to manage the many opportunities and challenges that come our way. Because of his tireless efforts, Film Florida continues to provide a leadership role for Florida’s film, television and digital media industry. You can contact John directly at 407-494-6195 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate your ongoing engagement and support and look forward to a great 2020.
President, Film Florida