Florida film industry reels in the dough, pun intended

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What would Florida gain if shows such as Dexter, which capture images of Miami but are filmed in Los Angeles, were truly produced in-state?  According to a study just released on Florida’s Film and Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program, quite a bit: nearly $5 return on every $1 spent, or about $547 million in state and local tax revenue following an investment of $117 million in tax credits.

As the sister of an aspiring actress who must live in Los Angeles to further her career, I have personal interest in seeing Florida’s film industry blossom into a place where she, and others like her, could live or visit more frequently while still pursuing their dreams.  But as a Floridian taxpayer, I have equal interest in seeing our public funds spent on projects that truly deliver in the economic impact department.

This study, commissioned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)  and conducted by MNP LLP, evaluates the economic and social impact of Florida’s production incentive for the 2011/12 fiscal year, and offers strong evidence that it pays for Florida to invest in film and entertainment – not just in terms of direct production-related revenues, but also through boosts in tourism that result from worldwide audiences seeing Florida on television and being drawn to visit.

Taking this “induced tourism” into account, the study estimates the impacts of incentive spending on tax revenues, jobs and overall economic impact.

For 2011/12, the film incentive supported 87,870 Florida jobs across all industries, $2.3 billion in labor income, and $284 million in state taxes.  In total, the incentive generated $7.2 billion in economic spending and contributed to $4.2 billion of Florida’s gross state product.

Further, the study describes how film and entertainment production encouraged through the incentive program has spurred infrastructure investments in Florida that further generate economic value. For example, the TV series Magic City leases the former Bertram Yacht facility and converted the space into sound stages and production offices.  The producers spent $8 million over four months to convert this vacant facility into a fictional hotel where the majority of the series is shot. 

Similarly, the TV series Burn Notice is filmed in the Coconut Grove Convention Center, a facility that had been scheduled for demolition but now has been proposed as a production facility.

A complete list of film and entertainment projects that have been supported by the incentive can be found here, via the Florida Office of Film & Entertainment.

Vans Stevenson, Senior VP for State Government Affairs at the MPAA, sums it up: “The state of Florida has been a beacon for motion picture and television production in the United States. As these productions come to town, they create thousands of Florida jobs, are a major boost to local economies, and as we can see, gives the state of Florida a significant return on its investment. These major productions, created by hard working Floridians and Florida businesses, are then exported worldwide and expose audiences across the globe to Florida’s diverse beauty, drawing visitors year after year to the sunshine state.”

To which I say, bring it on…. (and book my sister).