Filmmaker pessimistic about future of Florida industry – Orlando Sentinel

Prominent filmmakers have warned for years that bad policies and state government’s refusal to seriously consider tax incentives are threatening Florida’s film industry. And now, according to producer and actor Matt Florio, the industry may have fallen beyond the point of no return. As production in the state has all but evaporated, filmmakers including writers, producers, directors and actors have been forced to leave and seek work opportunities in Georgia, home to big-budget TV shows like “Stranger Things” and movies like “Spider.” -Man: No Way Home” were filmed.

“I knew some talented people in Florida and they all left,” Florio said. “It’s getting to the bottom of the barrel of who stayed in Florida.” And I really think this is kind of the end of it. I mean, the writing was on the wall.”

"The Florida Manifesto" is one of the short films produced by Florio's production company and can be viewed for free on ComedyFlo's official website.

In addition to being a producer and actor, Florio is also the founder of ComedyFlo, which has produced numerous television shows and short films including “Comedy Doctors,” “The Florida Manifesto” and “Ask Aldo.”

Florio says he doesn’t know how local politicians ever let it get as bad as it did for the filmmakers, because Florida should be competing with Georgia and not letting its neighbor continue to siphon off all of the state’s talent.

“I don’t know how Orlando hasn’t become what Georgia has with Atlanta,” Florio said, adding that with so many college film programs, soundstages and other infrastructure, the city could attract world-class filmmaking. talent.

However, according to Florio, even if the tax incentives were rolled back tomorrow, so much infrastructure has been built in Georgia that it may simply be too late for Florida to return to being the manufacturing destination it once was. Georgia quickly established itself as the new, new “Hollywood East,” a title originally bestowed upon Florida in the late 1980s, when major film and television projects regularly came to the state.

Georgia is currently second only to California as the largest state for cable and streaming TV series production, according to a report released last year by Film LA. In 2021, nearly 40 television projects were filmed in the state, while only one was filmed in Florida.

And while the stagnation of early efforts to make Florida a center for filmmaking was due to a number of factors, it’s now the lack of incentives that continues to drive filmmakers away. Earlier in 2022, Film Florida estimated that the state lost at least $1.5 billion in film, television and digital media due to a lack of incentives in the past five years alone. And since Tallahassee has no real interest in creating an incentive plan, that number is expected to grow.

It’s easy to see why Florio and other filmmakers are generally pessimistic about the industry, but while conditions remain poor, he’s determined to keep making movies in Florida, even if it ends up costing him money.

“These are all projects that I create and that I will eventually pay for. You know, people lend their time to them, who lend their talents to projects because they believe in what I’m creating and our goal is to do bigger things,” he said. “I’m constantly sucking and scratching and clawing trying to do something.”

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