AS TAX CREDITS DRIED UP PRODUCTIONS HAVE FLED TO SIMILAR LOCALES IN GEORGIA, LOUISIANA AND CALIFORNIA
Miami native Barry Jenkins’ film “Moonlight” appears to be a strong contender to take home several awards at the 89th Academy Awards including Best Picture, but the film, that captures the elements of life in urban Miami, was almost filmed somewhere else. The lack of film credit incentives available in the Sunshine state gave producers pause, however Jenkins insisted that the film be shot on location in his hometown. “Moonlight”, based on an autobiographical play by fellow Miamian Tarell Alvin McCraney, took much of its aura from the Floridian locations, despite the allure of tax incentives in other states. Only seven years ago, Florida was the third most popular place for filming in the US, but the tax credit funding dried up in 2013. In early 2016, lawmakers decided to cut the program from the state’s budget, leaving shows like “Ballers” and “Bloodline” that drew heavily on Florida’s culture, looking elsewhere for filming. “Ballers” moved to California after the second season, but “Bloodline” was not renewed for a fourth season, largely based on the cost prohibition of filming in Florida.
Industry professionals and advocacy groups like Film Florida, continue to push lawmakers to revise their stance and bring back the program that allowed for a relatively permanent industry to thrive in the state. Approximately 312 films received credits from the coffer of $300 million available and added roughly $4.1 billion to state GDP since inception in 2010, but the credits dried up even before the sunset date of June 30, 2016 and productions already started fleeing to similar locales in Georgia, Louisiana and California. Smaller municipalities in Miami Beach and Sarasota County created their own citywide credits, but with only $60,000 and $250,000, respectively, of credits available, bigger budget movies will hardly be encouraged to bring production to Florida. Moviemaking advocates and workers hope that the success of “Moonlight” will highlight the importance of Florida’s role in production industry and encourage future consideration of a tax credit incentive program in the state