Florida losing film jobs to Georgia over incentives

Published: Nov. 29, 2016 at 9:18 AM EST
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

November 29, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Capitol News Service) -- The sign at the state line says Florida is "Open for business," but that's not necessarily true when it comes to making movies.

Hundreds of Florida film professionals are leaving the Sunshine State for Georgia, that's because Georgia offers filmmakers a 20 percent rebate of everything they spend.

Suburban Atlanta now boasts one of the largest film complexes in the country. Pinewood Atlanta has hired FSU Film School Dean Frank Patterson to be its president.

"The film industry had a $6 billion impact last year on the state of Georgia, and it's just fifteen minutes north of here, the film school, for my students to go to," Patterson says.

Florida used to play in film; $250 million was set aside in 2011, but it was quickly gobbled up.

In one of the few studies of film credits in Florida, a University of West Florida economist found that for every dollar it put up, it got $1.44 back in tax revenue.

But Florida isn't going to be funding film anytime soon. Newly elevated House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R - Pasco County) is a vocal critic of corporate welfare, including film incentives.

"It is a horrible, horrible use of taxpayer dollars and there is no return on investment." Rep. Corcoran says. "And as a person who is finally charged with protecting the taxpayers money, I'm not going to waste it by giving it to Hollywood producers. They can go elsewhere if they want to, but the reality is Florida is Florida."

Case in point: Moonlight. In theaters now. Shot in Miami. But its budget, just $5 million.

Florida's new speaker says better schools and infrastructure will still attract quality companies and films, but Florida is one of the few states not offering film incentives.