By: Ismael Rodriguez
Miami-Dade hopes that offering $100,000 in local subsidy will lure television shows and movies to film in the county, replacing the deal Florida lawmakers used to bait Hollywood with its $300 million incentive program that expired last year.
“It helps the show runners. It helps the producers when the studio asks: Is there an incentive?” Kim Wolf, owner of Worldwide Production Services in Coral Gables, told the Miami Herald. “It’s a little nod.”
The Miami-Dade County Commission voted to approve the incentive program this week, which states that studios and production companies will need to spend at least $1 million within the county, film 70 percent of its footage in Miami-Dade, hire a minimum of 50 county residents and have Miami-Dade firms make up 80 percent of the production’s vendors to qualify for the maximum $100,000 subsidy.
However, the county’s budget office has yet to set aside production-subsidy dollars for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. But talk of financial help from the local government has already gathered support from advocates who believe the new program will send the right message to those production companies that are naturally drawn to Miami but won’t consider locations without incentives.
“There are projects that say: we will come here if you give us something,” Sandy Lighterman, head of the county’s film office, told the press. “We need something for the bean counters and the financial people.”
The lack of incentives has been detrimental to Miami’s film industry, which has been suffering since the state pulled incentive dollars for its film industry to finance other areas of government. Meanwhile, states like Georgia and Louisiana continue to offer millions of dollars in production subsidies, strengthening the competition.
This has led sponsored programs like HBO’s “Ballers,” a Miami-based show that received sponsorship from Sally Heyman, the county commissioner, to leave Miami-Dade for other destinations with a substantial amount of incentives.
When the state starts dishing out film subsidies, though, backers of the program believe the county’s help could give a replenishing boost to the network of smaller productions that help maintain skilled camera operators, actors, technicians and others that make larger productions a reality.
And it’s no secret that Miami is a preferred destination with its multicultural background and renowned tourism.
Carmen Pelaez, a filmmaker, told the Miami Herald that she moved from New York to Coconut Grove because she felt Miami was a more accessible platform for launching independent films.
“I shot my first film with HBO Latina down here,” she told the press after the vote. “There’s an incredible creative community in Miami.”
If that’s not enough for advocates to flaunt, remember that “Moonlight,” the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 2017, was set and filmed in Miami on a $1.5 million budget.