Miami-Dade County Wants To Set Up Its Own Film Incentive Program To Counter Lack Of State Funding

Jul 12, 2017

Update 7/19/2017: The county has approved the establishment of an incentive program. Read more here.

The film industry may soon find it more appealing to make TV shows and movies in Miami-Dade County as commissioners consider a county-based film incentive program.

For the second year in a row, the state failed to fund a statewide program, much to the ire of  local industry professionals, who were calling for $50 million in tax credits. Opponents called any money earmarked for film incentives “Hollywood handouts.”

Al Pacino in 'Scarface.'
Credit © Universal Pictures

Meanwhile, local film professionals say work is drying up. "Bloodline," which was filmed in the Keys, has been canceled. There are rumors that the remake of the classic South Florida film "Scarface" will be filmed in Atlanta. The second season of "American Crime Story," which will focus on the South Beach murder of Gianni Versace, largely won’t be filmed on South Beach.

To try and stem the exodus of industry workers to states like Georgia, which has a film incentive program worth more than $60 million, commissioners have largely supported a measure that would establish a county-based tax rebate incentive program.

“If you look at the films, the [credits] at the end, you’re seeing the cute little peach from Georgia, the logo from Louisiana, South Carolina, so we’re not the only state that has great weather,” said Commissioner Sally Heyman, who sponsored the ordinance. “We’re a fabulous industry that is virtually drying up.”

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Heyman says between the Everglades, Atlantic Ocean, historic estates, art deco and urban areas, Miami-Dade County has it all. “They can go someplace else or manufacture if they need to, but we have it all,” she adds.

The plan would offer productions a rebate of up to $100,000 if they spend $1 million in the area. Miami Beach is considering a similar measure.

It’s a far cry from the nearly $300 million legislators set aside for the state in 2010. But as critics have pointed out, it was not a perfect system for distributing the money. Big studios snatched up much of the money on a first-come-first-serve basis, quickly draining the coffers and reducing the money for smaller productions.

But the county is hoping even a little help will affect the math of productions’ bottom lines.

Heyman’s ordinance cites a 2013 presentation given by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to Florida legislators, which included data showing that "Miami Vice" resulted in a 150 percent increase in visitors from Germany between 1985 and 1988.

Beyond the preservation of jobs and the income from catering and other outlays in the South Florida Community, the hope is that new films, like "Moonlight" — which was filmed in South Florida despite the fact that it was more expensive than alternatives because of the lack of an incentive program— will have a similar effect in bringing people to the region.

The full Miami-Dade County Commission will consider the issue on July 18.