Florida Film Loops: State’s struggling film industry, ArtsCenter/South Florida grant

Is Florida’s film industry running on fumes?

Several major, notable films, of course, have recently been made in the Sunshine State.

“The Florida Project,” shot on 35mm film in and around Kissimmee at a cost of about $2 million, yielded more than $10 million at the U.S. box office. The 2017 movie, directed, written, shot, edited, and co-produced by Sean Baker, landed a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe.

Barry Jenkins‘ “Moonlight” was shot digitally on location in Miami for $4 million and generated more than $65 million in box-office receipts worldwide, including nearly $28 million in the U.S. & Canada. The 2016 film won three Oscars, including best picture, and additionally notched five Oscar nominations.

Moonlight_(2016_film)

Both films were critically lauded, racking up glowing reviews and landing on many year-end Top 10 lists assembled by critics and critics’ groups. The Florida Film Critics Circle honored director-writer Jenkins with its Breakout Award, and gave its annual Golden Orange Award to the cast and crew of “Moonlight.” The FFCC last year gave the Golden Orange to “The Florida Project.”

Bright Lights, Medium Cities

Walt Disney Studios spent more than $134,000 in Polk County while shooting director Thea Sharrock‘s “The One and Only Ivan” over a three-day period beginning June 20 in four locations around Lakeland — Southgate Shopping Center, Dobbins Park (both in my old ‘hood, BTW), the Silver Moon Drive-In, and on West Palm Drive.

cranston_1529524646500_90372963_ver1.0_900_675

That’s according to Visit Central Florida, as reported by Paul Guzzo in the Tampa Bay Times. The producers of the film, a vehicle for “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, above (pic posted by ABC Action News), spent their production on 363 hotel room nights, local cast, catering, miscellaneous expenditures, and locations and associated fees, Guzzo wrote. “Ivan,” a live-action/CGI hybrid movie based on the 2012 children’s book of the same name, is scheduled for release in summer 2019.

And Florida is home to at least three television series: MTV “reality” show “Siesta Key” (Sarasota County), PBS’s sketch-format show “Kid Stew,” created by superstar mystery novelist and Palm Beach resident James Patterson (South Florida), and TNT’s comic drama “Claws” (Manatee County).

Big Deal to Big Chill

In the early 1900s, when it was home to more than 30 movie studios, Jacksonville was dubbed “The Winter Film Capital of the World.” The north Florida city made a sunny, affordable alternative to New York and New Jersey, then the location — pre-Hollywood — for most film productions.

film-4

Flash forward more than a century: Big-dollar movie production in Florida largely has hit the skids in the wake of the 2015 expiration of the state’s tax incentives for filmmakers.

More than 60 major film and television productions opted out of shooting in Florida in recent years, at a cost of about $1 billion in lost revenue, according to Film Florida, a not-for-profit entertainment production trade association. That doesn’t include the collateral damage: Nearly 90,000 lost cast and crew jobs.

“Due to the lack of competitive incentives, productions are going elsewhere,” Variety noted last year, pointing to producers’ decisions to shoot Florida-set scenes in Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night,” and “Gifted,” starring Octavia Spencer, in Georgia.

HBO’s “Ballers” series, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, below, and once based in Miami, left to take advantage of California’s more appealing tax incentives. The third and final season of Netflix original “Bloodlines” nearly left the Florida Keys for the same reason.

ballers 2

During the five years they were in effect, Florida’s incentives — a 20% base tax credit in 2010, with additional 5% increases for shooting in the off-season (June 1-Nov. 30) and for family-friendly productions — meant that the state essentially paid out nearly $300 million. But Florida gained from filmmakers’ production expenditures in the state of more than $1.25 billion, according to Variety. The production activity also drove the creation of nearly 120,000 jobs.

Several sequences in “Iron Man 3” were shot in the state during that period, along with the features “Rock of Ages,” “Step Up Revolution,” “Pain & Gain,” and the Starz series “Magic City.”

“The Infiltrator,” also starring Cranston, was partially filmed in 28 locations around the Tampa Bay area in April 2015. Hillsborough County spent about $250,000 to bring the film to the area, and the county benefited from $490,000 in direct expenditures and $145,942 in indirect spending, according to a report by Tampa marketing research firm HCP. (Producers of the $25 million film said that they would have filmed the bulk of the movie in Florida had the incentives been more attractive).

Got Tax Incentives?

Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico offered substantial filmmaking tax incentives — some, like Oklahoma, as high as 35% — as of April 1, according to data assembled by Cast and Crew Entertainment Services.

Florida is out of the running. But other Southern states are getting busy: Kentucky is offering at least 30% in incentives, followed by Alabama (25%+), Louisiana (25%+), Tennessee (25%), North Carolina (25%), Georgia (20%+),  South Carolina (20%+), and Arkansas (20%+).

The state of Florida does, however, offer a “Film in Florida Sales Tax Exemption,” a narrowly defined sales- and use-tax exemption to those engaged in film and television production. The exemption is restricted to “the purchase or lease of certain items used exclusively as an integral part of the production activities in Florida,” according to information on the state’s Department of Revenue web site.

Building a Wall to Keep Out Hollywood

So why did Florida’s GOP-dominated legislature back away from providing economic incentives to moviemakers?

Blame it on “ideological” opposition to Hollywood productions, says Gwen Graham, a Democratic candidate for Florida governor.

“It’s a philosophical problem. That’s what it is,” she recently told a roomful of Sunshine State film and television production professionals, including John Lux, executive of Film Florida, according to a report by Scott Powers of FloridaPolitics.com.

Lux, Michael Jordan of MJJ Entertainment and Filmotechnic USA, Winter Park-based actor Tom Nowicki (“The Blind Side,” “Remember the Titans”), UCF film professor Lisa Mills, and other industry stakeholders met last week at Edgewood-based Adrenaline Films.

“(They) argued that the costs to Florida include the losses of high-paying jobs associated with each production, the potential to develop permanent film production businesses in Florida, the tourism boost a movie or TV show can provide, and a source for careers for actors and college graduates coming out of Florida’s film schools,” Powers wrote.

Graham and her Democratic primary rivals — the ones without recognizable surnames — have all vowed to bolster the state’s film industry.

The state’s efforts to attract film productions largely have failed because “leadership in the Florida legislature is not in the mindset of having public/private partnerships,” as Rep. David Silvers (D-Lake Clarke Shores), below, told Philip’s Flicks.

David-Silvers

A Sliver of Lights, Camera, Action

Silvers, who represents a district located in central Palm Beach County, last year again filed a bill, HB 341, calling for the creation of the Florida Motion Picture Capital Corp., as part of his ongoing quest “to bring the film industry back to Florida.”

“Regardless of this mindset, I filed the bill the last two years because I want to ensure that the Florida film and digital media industry knows that some of the legislators support the industry and understand the positive impact on our economy,” he said.

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the proposed corporation, instead of offering tax credits or rebates, was designed to operate “under a more traditional investment model where the group would directly invest in a film with the hopes of making money on the back end. Revenue derived from those investments would be reinvested into the corporation for future films. The bill does not specify how the corporation would be initially funded, but lays out a framework to collect local and state funding.”

In March, the bill died in the Florida House’s Careers and Competition Subcommittee.

“I plan on filing this legislation upon my reelection,” said Silvers, a freshman legislator facing attorney Edgardo Hernandez in the November primary. Silvers said he’s unaware of any other ongoing efforts by legislators or state officials to bring more Hollywood dollars to the Sunshine State.

The film industry may be undergoing a sea change in movie-production locations, according to a recent report by FilmL.A. Only 10 of the top 100 movie moneymakers were shot in California in 2017. The Golden State finished fourth, behind Canada (20 of the biggest box-office hits), the U.K. and Georgia (15 each).

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On the heels of Miami-Dade County’s rebate of $100k for film or TV productions spending at least $1 million in the county, ArtCenter/South Florida is putting its focus on indie filmmakers by making $50k available to each of two movies shot in Miami.

The New Cinematic Arts Residency will be led by Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, below, a local filmmaker and the director and co-founder of the Third Horizon Film Festival,” Hans Morgenstern wrote in Miami New Times. “He says the program fills a void for those, like him, who have found themselves with a successful short film but nowhere else to go from there.”

jason

Applications for the funding are available through Sept. 18 at artcentersf.org/cinematicarts.

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Meanwhile, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau gave $313,000 to NZK Productions Inc. to shoot a single episode of “reality” romance show “The Bachelor,” according to the Miami New Times. Your resort tax dollars at work.

Have Florida film news? Contact Philip Booth at jphilipbooth@hotmail.com

 

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“Dunkirk” Takes Top Honors in 2017 FFCC Awards; “The Florida Project” Wins Golden Orange

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan‘s dazzling and cinematically daring account of the WWII evacuation of Dunkirk beaches by Allied forces, was named best picture of the year, and Nolan best director, by the Florida Film Critics Circle. I voted.

The cast and crew of Sean Baker‘s “The Florida Project,” a low-budget, documentary-style study of life among the very poor, told largely from the point of view of children living in the shadow of the Mouse House, was honored with the FFCC’s annual Golden Orange award. The honor is generally awarded to a Florida-based movie, event, organization, or person making a significant impact on the film community, statewide or beyond. The film’s subject matter and unique vision and narrative style have drawn critical kudos and attention from around the world.

The critics group — 25 writers based in the Sunshine State — gave multiple honors to several different films and artists:

  • Jordan Peele, one-half of the Key and Peele comedy duo, won best original screenplay and best first film for controversial, widely acclaimed comic/horror/social-commentary shocker “Get Out!”
  • “Blade Runner 2049,” Ridley Scott‘s belated sequel to his 1982 sci-fi classic, won in four categories, for best cinematography, art direction/production, visual effects, and score.
  • “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy about murder and revenge, won for best ensemble, and the film’s Sam Rockwell, as a racially wounded and wounding small-town cop, for best supporting actor
  • “I, Tonya”: Margot Robbie, best actress, as troubled skating star Tonya Harding; and Allison Janey, best supporting actress, as Tonya’s mother from hell.
  • “Call Me By Your Name”: Timothee Chalamet, best actor and breakout award; and James Ivory, best adapted screenplay

(Guillermo del Toro‘s exquisitely photographed, beautifully acted, emotionally resonant and often technically dazzling “The Shape of Water,” an odd but compelling sci-fi/horror/fantasy cross between “The Creature From the Black Lagoon” and “Beauty and the Beast,” was my favorite film of the year. It received 10 FFCC nominations but, strangely, got skunked in every category. But that’s a subject for another post, one with my own Top 10+ list).

The complete list, with runners-up, and, in red, my own pick in each category:

BEST PICTURE

Dunkirk (WINNER)

Lady Bird

Call Me By Your Name

Get Out

The Shape Of Water — PHILIP’s PICK

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BEST DIRECTOR

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk (WINNER)

Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird 

Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water — PHILIP’s PICK

Jordan Peele – Get Out

Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BEST ACTOR

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name (WINNER)

Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour 

Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out — PHILIP’s PICK

James Franco – The Disaster Artist

Robert Pattinson – Good Time

BEST ACTRESS

Margot Robbie – I, Tonya (WINNER)

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Philip’s Pick

Cynthia Nixon – A Quiet Passion

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water

Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (WINNER) — Philip’s Pick

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project 

Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name

Barry Keoghan – The Killing of A Sacred Deer

Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me By Your Name

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Allison Janney – I, Tonya (WINNER)

Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird 

Holly Hunter – The Big Sick — Philip’s Pick

Hong Chau – Downsizing

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound

BEST ENSEMBLE

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (WINNER)

Dunkirk

Get Out

I, Tonya

Lady Bird

The Big Sick — Philip’s Pick

The Shape Of Water

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Get Out (WINNER)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

Lady Bird

The Big Sick — Philip’s Pick

The Shape Of Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Call Me By Your Name (WINNER)

The Disaster Artist — Philip’s Pick

Marjorie Prime

Molly’s Game

The Lost City of Z

Wonderstruck

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Blade Runner 2049 (WINNER)

Dunkirk 

Personal Shopper

The Post

The Shape of Water — Philip’s Pick

Wonderstruck

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Blade Runner 2049 (WINNER)

War for the Planet of the Apes 

Dunkirk

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Shape of Water — Philip’s Pick

BEST ART DIRECTION/PRODUCTION DESIGN

Blade Runner 2049 (WINNER)

Dunkirk 

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water — Philip’s Pick

Wonderstruck

BEST SCORE

Blade Runner 2049 (WINNER)

Dunkirk 

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Philip’s Pick

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Jane (WINNER) — Philip’s Pick

Ex Libris: New York Public Library

Dawson City: Frozen Time

Faces Places

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

Kedi

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

BPM (WINNER)

The Square 

First They Killed My Father — Philip’s Pick

Loveless

The Ornithologist

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Coco (WINNER)

Loving Vincent — Philip’s Pick

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

The LEGO Batman Movie

BEST FIRST FILM

Get Out (WINNER) — Philip’s Pick

God’s Own Country (Runners-Up)

Ingrid Goes West

Molly’s Game

PAULINE KAEL BREAKOUT AWARD

Timothée Chalamet (WINNER)

Jordan Peele

Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk & The Killing of a Sacred Deer) — Philip’s Pick

Greta Gerwig

Millicent Simmonds

GOLDEN ORANGE

The cast and crew of The Florida Project — Philip’s Pick

 

Florida Film Critics Circle: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Birdman” and “Boyhood” Take Top Honors

“Birdman” was named best picture, and the theater-world satire’s star Michael Keaton was named best actor in this year’s Florida Film Critics Circle Awards.

Richard Linklater’s innovative “Boyhood,” 12 years in the making, also took top honors, winning for best director and supporting actress (Patricia Arquette).

Wes Anderson’s quirky, gorgeously composed “The Grand Budapest Hotel” grabbed the most FFCC honors, with awards for best original screenplay, best ensemble, and best art direction/production design.

More than 20 critics from around Florida voted in this year’s awards. For the complete list of winners and runners-up, visit the FFCC site, or see below:

Best Picture:

Birdman

Runner-up: Boyhood

Best Director:

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Runner-up: Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman

Best Actress:

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Runner-up: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Best Actor:

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Runner-up: Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Best Supporting Actor:

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Runner-up: Edward Norton – Birdman

Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Runner-up: Emma Stone – Birdman

Best Ensemble:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-up: Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay:

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

Runner-up: Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

Runner-up: Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Best Cinematography:

Interstellar (Hoyte Van Hoytema)

Runner-up: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert D. Yeoman)

Best Visual Effects:

Interstellar

Runner-up: Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Art Direction/Production Design:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-up: Interstellar

Best Score:

Under the Skin (Micah Levi, aka Micachu)

Runner-up: Gone Girl (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)

Best Documentary:

Life Itself

Runner-up: Citizenfour

Best Foreign-Language Film:

The Raid 2

Runner-up: Force Majeure

Best Animated Film:

The Lego Movie

Runner-up: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Pauline Kael Breakout Award:

Damien Chazelle (writer/director: Whiplash)

Runner-up: Gugu Mbatha-Raw (actress: Belle, Beyond the Lights)

Golden Orange:

The Borscht Corp.

“12 Years a Slave” Dominates FFCC Awards

12 yearsBritish filmmaker Steve McQueen’s searing, emotionally moving and often brutal “12 Years a Slave” is the big winner in this year’s Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) Awards, taking home honors in the categories of best picture, best director, best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, supporting actress for Lupita Nyong’o, adapted screenplay for John Ridley, and breakout award for Nyong’o.

(Results are also posted at http://www.floridafilmcritics.com)

Here’s the official announcement, provided by FFCC chairman Bill Gibron:

FFCC Winners Announcement – 2013

December 18 – With five major wins, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, Steve McQueen’s riveting “12 Years a Slave” swept the 2013 Florida Film Critic Circle Awards, beating out such highly touted contenders as “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Alfonso Cuoron’s “Gravity” was the only other multiple winner, earning top marks for its cinematography and special effects.

McQueen, himself a winner for director, helped Chiwetel Ejiofor earn the group’s top honor as Best Actor for his stirring work as former freeman turned plantation “property” Solomon Northup, while Jared Leto stepped away from his rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars to win the Best Supporting Actor award for his touching turn as an AIDS patient in “The Dallas Buyers Club.”

Woody Allen again proved his skill with actresses, as Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine” while newcomer Lupita Nyong’o walked away with the prize for Best Supporting Actress for her devastating work as Patsey in “Slave “. She was additionally acknowledged by the group, winning the prestigious Pauline Kael Breakout Award.

As stated before, Cuaron’s hit sci-fi thriller brought a Best Cinematography win for Emmanuel Lubezki as well as for its mind blowing F/X. Spike Jonze’s whimsical meditation on life, love and technology, “Her,” earned him the Best Original Screenplay award while John Ridley was honored with Best Adapted Screenplay for his efforts in bringing “Slave” to the screen.

In other awards, Cannes favorite “Blue is the Warmest Color” won a close race over “The Hunt” for Foreign Language Film, while “Frozen” narrowly defeated Hayao Miyazaki’s final effort, “The Wind Rises” for Animated Film. “The Act of Killing” edged out “Blackfish” for Best Documentary, while “The Great Gatsby” was touted for its Art Direction and Production Design.

The Golden Orange Award, given for outstanding contribution to film, went to Miami Beach Cinematheque director Dana Keith, a tireless champion of foreign, independent and alternative film for more than 20 years. He has consistently programmed some of the most daring films to make the art house circuit and has played host to a variety of film festivals, big and small.

Founded in 1996, the Florida Film Critics Circle is comprised of 21 writers from state publications. Bill Gibron of PopMatters.com and FilmRacket.com has served as chairman since March 2013. For more information on the FFCC, visit http://www.floridafilmcritics.com/.

Complete list of winners:

Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, The Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Director: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Her

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

Visual Effects: Gravity

Art Direction/Production Design: Damien Drew et.al. and Catherine Martin et.al., The Great Gatsby

Foreign Language: Blue is the Warmest Color

Animated: Frozen

Documentary: The Act of Killing

Breakout: Lupita Nyong’O, 12 Years a Slave

Golden Orange: Dana Keith

Dan Hudak Steps Down as Chair of Florida Film Critics Circle; Bill Gibron Takes Helm

FFCC LogoThe Florida Film Critics Circle, an organization comprising more than 20 active or retired movie writers based in Florida, has new leadership.

Dan Hudak, chairman of the group since March 2008, is stepping down from that unpaid post, he announced earlier this week. Hudak, who writes for Florida Weekly, Folio Weekly and his own Hudak on Hollywood site, is handing the reins to Bill Gibron, vice chair of the group and a writer for Pop Matters and FilmCritic.com. The vice chair position is open until filled.

The group, founded in 1996, annually honors excellence in film with awards in about 16 categories (varies depending on the releases in any given year). In the most recent FFCC awards, “Argo” won for best picture, best director (Ben Affleck) and best adapted screenplay (Chris Terrio), while Daniel Day-Lewis was honored as best actor for “Lincoln,” Jessica Chastain as best actress for “Zero Dark Thirty,” Philip Seymour Hoffman as best supporting actor for “The Master” and Anne Hathaway as best supporting actress for “Les Miserables.” The complete list of winners in all the categories, going back to 1996, is here.

The FFCC was created “to recognize outstanding work in film, further the cause of good movies, and maintain the highest level of professionalism among film critics in Florida.”

In other FFCC news: Rene Jordan, the Cuban-born longtime film critic for El Nuevo Herald (the Miami Herald’s Spanish-language counterpart), and a member of the FFCC and National Board of Review, passed away in early April. He was 85.

For more information, visit the FFCC’s home online. 

Florida Critics Honor “Up in the Air”

Jason Reitman‘s comic drama Up in the Air has landed top honors in this year’s Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) Awards, with prizes for best picture, Reitman’s direction and George Clooney‘s performance as a corporate axeman.

Precious, the FFCC’s other big winner, a disturbing inner-city drama directed by Lee Daniels, won two top acting honors — Gabourey Sidibe, best actress, and the group’s Pauline Kael Breakout Award, in the title role; and hip-hop star and TV personality Mo’Nique, for best supporting actress.

The complete list of winners:

Picture: Up In The Air
Actor: George Clooney, Up In The Air
Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Supp. Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Supp. Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious
Director: Jason Reitman, Up In The Air
Screenplay: Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, (500) Days of Summer
Cinematography: Mauro Fiore, Avatar
Foreign Language: Sin Nombre
Animated Feature: Up
Documentary: The Cove
Breakout: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Golden Orange: No Award

Founded in 1996, the Florida Film Critics Circle is comprised of 17 writers from state publications. Dan Hudak of hudakonhollywood.com has served as chairman since March 2008. For more information on the FFCC, visit floridafilmcriticscircle.webs.com.