TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The sign at the state line says Florida is “Open for Business,” but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to making movies.
Hundreds of Florida film professionals are leaving the Sunshine State for Georgia, because Georgia offers filmmakers a 20 percent rebate on everything they spend.
The result: Suburban Atlanta now boasts one of the largest film complexes in the country. Pinewood Atlanta has hired Florida State University Film School Dean Frank Patterson to be its president.
“The film industry has had a $6 billion impact last year on the state of Georgia,” Patterson said. “And it’s just 15 minutes north of here -- the Film School, for my students to go to.”
Florida used to play in film. In 2011, $250 million was set aside, but it was quickly gobbled up.
In one of the few studies of film credits in Florida, a University of West Florida economist found that for every dollar the state put up, it got a $1.44 back in tax revenue.
But Florida isn’t going to be funding film anytime soon. Newly elevated House Speaker Richard Corcoran is a vocal critic of corporate welfare, including film incentives.
“It is a horrible, horrible use of taxpayers’ dollars, and there is no return on investment,” Corcoran said. “And as a person who is finally charged with protecting the taxpayers’ money, I’m not going to waste it by giving it to Hollywood producers. They can go elsewhere if they want to, but the reality is, Florida is Florida.”
“Moonlight,” in theaters now, was shot in Miami, but had a budget of only $5 million.
Corcoran said better schools and infrastructure will still attract quality companies and films. Florida is one of the few states not offering film incentives.