Florida and the Film Industry: An Epic Tale of Talent, Landscape, and the Law
38 Nova L. Rev. 43, 2013
38 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2013
Hollywood East! The honorific title bestowed upon a bewitching state known for her sandy beaches, warm winter days, and mosquito-filled Everglades. Florida and the Film Industry: A tale of an alluring titan and a powerful behemoth behaving like two lovers enmeshed in an affair, complete with wooing, courting, and rebuffs. A relationship that has lasted over a century and continues to blossom amidst healthy competition, tax incentives, innovative legislation, and cooperation. Florida’s commitment to a thriving film industry — through its legislature, government administrative agencies, and incentives — has allowed its economy to grow and its citizenry to flourish, while showcasing Florida to the world.
This article chronicles the development of the Florida film and entertainment industry, from its inception to the present day, as a product of environment, opportunity, economics, law, and policy. The film and entertainment industry is one of the most significant contributors to Florida’s local, regional, and global image, through depiction of its people, cities, industry, and nature. As an ever-growing contributor to the state’s economy through job creation, service industry revenues, and tax collections, Florida’s relationship with the film and entertainment industry has gone from an ad hoc approach to a carefully strategized, multi-year effort, fueled by the Florida Film and Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program, to encourage the use of the state as a location for all facets of digital, film, and television production.
This article will address in Part I the earliest history of film in Florida from the late nineteenth century birth and flourishing through the 1917 transfer to California and revitalization during World War II. Part II considers the state’s economic, political, and legal enticements for the film industry to grow in the state and to match the public relations campaign to draw tourism to the Sunshine State. Part III outlines the essence of 1950s blockbuster hits that gave impetus to rules and laws to solidify the state’s relationship with the film industry. As commented upon in Part IV, Florida’s compelling call to the industry reached New York City and beyond, bringing rare talent that would further expand the industry’s reach and hold in Florida. Worthy of Part V’s particular focus, mesmerizing Miami reached international recognition as a thriving hub for both television and film from the 1950s onward, and industry contractual practices there set the standard for the entire film and television industry thenceforth. Part VI summarizes the background, legislative authority, and practical efforts of the Governor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, followed by the tax incentives under state and federal law which caused the film and television industry efforts in Florida to expand exponentially in the twenty-first century onward in Part VII; specifically with some of the most notable progeny of this effort and their value to state, regional, and the national economies showcased in Part VIII. Part IX highlights how past is prologue for Florida film and television, why current state and federal initiatives will prevent major production efforts from becoming runaway boons to other states and countries, and the demonstrable economic benefits those laws and policies have already produced for Florida in particular, and the United States in general. In conclusion, Part X predicts how faithfulness and fidelity to the film and television industry will continue to reap benefits in a multi-billion dollar relationship continuing into its second century, with over 120 films and television shows to its credit and counting.
Keywords: Florida, Film, Movie, Television, Theater, Law, Economics, Policy, Director, Producer, Tax, Incentive, Administrative Law, History
JEL Classification: L82, D73, D78, D61, H25, H51, H71, J31, J51, K23, K31, K32, K43, N00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation