Florida’s film and TV industry is in a free-fall after the state scrapped its film incentives program earlier this year. Productions are leaving, vendors are fleeing, and workers are moving to Georgia in the wake of a concerted and well-financed campaign by the billionaire Koch brothers and their conservative allies in the state legislature to kill the Sunshine State’s incentives. It’s an exodus of epic proportions, but if a movie were ever to be made about it, it would probably have to be shot in Georgia.
“The industry here is one step away from dead,” said Fred Moyse, business manager of IATSE Local 477, which represents film crews in southern Florida. “We’ve lost a third of our members. It’s been devastating to the men and women who work in this industry, and crippling to the small businesses that support it.”
“The loss of incentives has hurt everyone in the industry,” said Miami-based casting director Ellen Jacoby. “It’s hurt the casting directors, the talent agencies, the actors, and the vendors. It’s hurt people paying their mortgages, and so many support businesses. It’s hurt the local markets and gas stations and lumber stores. It’s hurt so many people.”
In 2006, Florida’s film commission boasted that the state, once dubbed “Hollywood East,” was “the third-largest filmmaking state in the nation” – behind only California and New York. “We were always No. 3,” Jacoby lamented. “Everyone wanted to come to Florida to film. Now we’re not in the top 20.”
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