County could get major feature film from Louisiana
By Suzy Valentine
A major feature film intended for Louisiana could come to Miami-Dade County in a month - the second $100 million-plus project here this year.
Filming of the movie version of 1980s hit TV series "Miami Vice" - with a budget of $150 million - will wrap in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, scouts from an undisclosed project that was to have begun in Louisiana in four weeks but was displaced by Hurricane Katrina have been in the county this week and last to assess locations. The West Coast filmmakers plan to decide within days whether to set up shop here.
"It's a really large project," said Jeff Peel, director of the Mayor's Office of Film and Entertainment, "in the $100 million vicinity. Filmmakers were to have started in October, so they're really under the gun to make a decision. I expect a decision to be made in the next week or two. They considered the county as a possibility before plumping for Louisiana."
"I heard rumblings that some projects would come here that were chased away from the Gulf Coast," said Miami Beach Film and Print Coordinator Graham Winick.
The impact for the economy could be huge. Representatives for "Miami Vice," which began shooting in June, predicted a $25 million to $30 million impact and hundreds of temporary jobs.
The "Miami Vice" crew plans to wrap up filming in the county by mid-October, weeks before the next feature film would begin.
The project is one of several that will have boosted film economic impacts here this year - $132 million to Aug. 31, of which $32 million was felt last month.
The spike in August, Mr. Peel said, resulted in part from the return of the MTV Video Music Awards, which last year had a $10 million impact in the county.
Work on Paramount Pictures television drama "South Beach," starring Vanessa Williams, and Italian film "Christmas in Miami" started last month.
"We book the dollars at the start date," said Mr. Peel. "It makes more sense from an accounting standpoint."
Other television prospects are in the pipeline.
A pilot for "Dexter," a television drama about a forensics expert turned serial killer based on the works of Jeff Lindsay, is in production.
"It's highly likely that Showtime will take this up," Mr. Peel said, "and if they do, the filmmakers will be back at the beginning of next year."
Meanwhile, the pilot for an MTV reality show about Miami Beach models is to start shooting next month.
"The show is called 'Eighth and Ocean,'" Mr. Winick said. "Shooting is to run from October through December. It's our hope it will be picked up."
This fall, production of a 26-episode children's TV series titled "Scoobs" is to get under way. The series is the work of producer Britt Allcroft, who adapted the Rev. Wilbert Awdry's "Thomas the Tank Engine" books for film and TV.
"It's 'Flipper'-esque," said Mr. Peel of "Scoobs," about five scuba-diving children and their companion sea lion. "It should bring about $10 million."