Last week, members of the Film Florida Board of Directors spent time in Tallahassee with a full schedule. The Film Florida Board of Directors Meeting took place on Monday, March 25. Updates were presented by the Florida Office of Film & Entertainment, our Legislative, Budget & Finance, Marketing, Strategic Futures, and Membership committees as well as our Education, Industry & Association and Film Commission councils. Since many of our committee and council meetings took place prior to our time in Tallahassee, there were numerous things to update the Board on. Each of our committees and councils have a lot going on and we look forward to providing more information from each of them as initiatives progress.

Senator Annette Taddeo (D- Miami-Dade County) filed SB 1808 which is completely separate from the legislation Film Florida has been advocating for (SB 526 from Sen Joe Gruters- R and HB 1401 from Rep James Buchanan- R). SB 1808 is “a resolution recognizing the value of film and television production as an economic driver and a creator of high-wage jobs, encouraging the collaboration of public-sector and private-sector efforts through the development of programs and partnerships, and encouraging the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment’s continued support of various collaborative programs and partnerships for national and international marketing.”

While SB 1808 may not affect SB 526 and/or HB 1401 and is not a law, a grant program, or incentive, nor does it have any financial appropriation; it was an opportunity for legislators to voice support for our industry. Prior to our Board Meeting on Monday, March 25, Film Florida members in Tallahassee attended the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee where SB 1808 was unanimously approved and moved to its next committee stop. CLICK HERE to view the committee hearing. SB 1808 is from 20:05 – 30:25 of the video.

On Tuesday, March 26, members of the Film Florida Board of Directors met with more than 20 legislators (and aides) at the Capitol. Meetings included Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate Members, “freshman” legislators and seasoned veterans, supporters of the industry and fence sitters. The message points and details of the Targeted Grant Program in SB 526/HB 1401 resonated with legislators. It’s very clear that the goals of bringing projects, jobs and money back to Florida is a common goal of everyone. We received very positive feedback on SB 526 and HB 1401. In fact, five additional co-sponsors signed on to the bills just from our meetings.

While there are 5 weeks left of the legislative session, there is little time to get on committee agendas and be heard in the committees SB 526 and HB 1401 have been assigned to. Although we have tried very hard, unfortunately SB 526 and HB 1401 have not been placed on committee agendas in recent weeks. Our Legislative Committee leadership is working very closely with our Government Relations team to do everything we can to make progress in committees or through other avenues.

Regardless of how the current legislative session turns out, the conversation is changing in Tallahassee when it comes to the film, television and digital media industry. Between our messaging about the amount of lost business in Florida ($1 billion+ in last 4 years), the high-wage jobs in our industry (avg. $81K+ per year), and film-induced tourism (Dolphin Tale, Bloodline, and many more), the positive energy for our industry is noticeably different at the Capitol. It’s not just conversations with legislators but also recent articles highlighting the bipartisan support and positive ROI from SB 526 and HB 1401. CLICK HERE to view a few of the photos from our day at the Capitol.

Wednesday morning, March 27, we were treated to a fabulous tour of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. The FSU College of Motion Picture Arts is annually ranked among the top film schools in America. We are proud to have them as a great member of Film Florida and a great partner to our industry. CLICK HERE to view photos from the tour.

The final event in Tallahassee was the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council (FFEAC) Meeting. The FFEAC was formed in 1999, and consists of 17 members; seven appointed by the Governor, five appointed by the President of the Senate, and five appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The purpose of the Council is to serve as an advisory body to the Department of Economic Opportunity and to the Florida Office of Film & Entertainment to provide industry insight and expertise related to developing, marketing, promoting and providing services to Florida’s entertainment industry. The Council is chaired by Film Florida member Nicholas Popp and multiple members of Film Florida have been appointed to the Council. Film Florida’s presence and support of the FFEAC is an important part of working together to grow and strengthen the industry in Florida.

Our time in Tallahassee was extremely well spent and beneficial. Legislatively speaking, our goal has been to build relationships with legislators, advocate for legislation that is fiscally conservative, Florida-centric, and achieves a positive ROI to the state, then present the facts and put the industry in the best possible position for success. After that, decisions by legislators are, in large part, out of our control. Regardless of what happens over the next five weeks, we are proud of the steps we have taken over the last nine months (and the many months before that preparing). We will continue to actively participate and communicate with legislators to ensure they understand the importance of the film, television and digital media industry in Florida.

Thank you for your continued support and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.