South Florida lawmakers want to bring movies back to Sunshine State

Taddeo, Silvers sponsor bills to establish film incentives

By Peter Burke - Managing Editor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two South Florida lawmakers want to bring the movies back to their state.

Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, and Florida Rep. David Silvers, D-West Palm Beach, have filed bills in their respective branches to reestablish Florida's once-burgeoning film industry.

SB 1606 seeks to establish the Florida Motion Picture Capital Corporation "to encourage the use of this state as a site for scripted productions by providing financing to certain productions."

The House companion bill was co-sponsored by Silvers and Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota.

Taddeo, Silvers and Gruters championed the measures during a news conference Wednesday in Tallahassee, with Taddeo calling it a "shot of adrenaline" for the state.

"This effort will bring high-paying jobs, grow the middle class and maintain Florida's reputation as a top destination for film and TV projects," Taddeo said.

No funding is being requested at this point, but that would come after the corporation has been established, Taddeo said.

Under the proposal, productions would be greenlit on a merit-based system in which certain provisions must be met. The process, Taddeo said, would be similar to a loan so that filmmakers with a proven track record would benefit from it.

Florida was once third in the country for film and television production, behind California and New York. Now the state has fallen out of the top 10, behind states like its northern neighbor of Georgia, which stood in for Florida in the 2016 Ben Affleck film "Live by Night."

The state's film tax incentive program was allowed to sunset that same year.

"Smokey and the Bandit" star Burt Reynolds, who grew up in Palm Beach County and now lives in Tequesta, was critical of Gov. Rick Scott for not doing more to help Florida's film industry.

"More films should be shot here," Reynolds told last March. "It's not Florida's fault, because Florida's got everything, you know? It's the governor."

HBO's "Ballers," which is set in Miami, moved to California, while the popular Netflix series "Bloodline," which is set in the Florida Keys, ended production after just three seasons.

Silvers recalled when an episode of "Miami Vice" was filmed at his father's house in South Florida.

"I just saw that so many people's lives were involved in episodic TV shows," Silvers said.

Taddeo said she hopes the bills will receive bipartisan support.

"The film industry is crucial to our state economy, and we must do everything we can to ensure that Florida is the first choice for film and television productions," Taddeo said.

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