Rustic filming locale Jimbo's Place 'should not be affected' by Virginia Key plan
By Risa Polansky
The local film community, stressed already by deep slashes to the state's film incentive budget, can rest easy about losing one of its most popular shooting locations, a city official says.
With hired planners scheming to revamp the City of Miami's Virginia Key, film industry players feared iconic shrimp joint Jimbo's Place could be a thing of the past.
But "at this point, the whole Jimbo's area should not be affected," said Enrique Nuñez, the city's chief of urban design.
The Virginia Key master plan — a work in progress that has yet to be approved by city advisory boards or the full commission — calls for creating opportunities for low-impact water recreation, such as kayaking and canoeing, in Jimbo's neck of the woods: the northeast end of the key, opposite Fisher Island.
"That's not going impact on opportunities for film industry work," Mr. Nuñez said.
Sports fields could pop up in the key's landfill area, and the city could create small-scale eco-campground areas and motocross bike trails on the key's north point, he said.
The city could improve the beaches and hammocks close to Jimbo's but doesn't plan to touch the lagoon area.
"There have always been film industry opportunities, which will remain," Mr. Nuñez said. "The improvements [to the Jimbo's area] would be eventually to have broader, water-oriented recreation."
The film community hopes for continued opportunity to provide input to the Virginia Key plan, said Robert Parente, director of the City of Miami Mayor's Office of Film and Cultural Affairs.
"We want to be a part of what goes forward."
He called Jimbo's — whose property includes also a scattering of ramshackle shacks built for '80s horror film "Island Claws" — one of the top filming locations in the city.
The Jimbo's/fishing village area has been shot about 400 times since 2000, according to data from Miami-Dade County Mayor's Office of Film and Entertainment, Director Jeff Peel said.
The numbers include only permitted shoots, including still and video for commercials, television shows, films and other projects, he said.
Jimbo's has appeared in shows such as "Flipper" and "Gentle Ben" and movies including "True Lies."
"It's very popular," Mr. Peel said. "For a certain look, it's pretty unique."
The county's top filming spots tend to be postcard-perfect beaches.
Crandon Park has been shot 1,900 times since 2000.
"Given the fact that Jimbo's is such a unique kind of look, it's pretty impressive they've had that many shots over that period of time," Mr. Peel said. "It's not palm trees and white sand and blue ocean."
But the Old Florida-esque destination draws its fair share of film industry interest, ranking as probably one of the top 10 or 20 most popular locations in Miami-Dade, he said.
It's not so much a film office revenue driver — the county only began charging permitting fees in 2007 — "it's really that it's another location in our inventory of locations that attract people to come and shoot here," Mr. Peel said.
And still smarting from a $20 million cut to the state's film incentives — from $25 million to $5 million — Florida needs all the attractive locations it can get.
A film shoot means publicity for Miami-Dade as well as crews and talent eating in local restaurants and staying in hotels here, industry experts say.
Mr. Parente of the city sees opportunity to leverage the Virginia Key Master Plan with ideas to enhance filming opportunity, such as developing a photo village of old cottages along with the suggested eco-campground, perhaps incorporating a rustic structure that could serve as a needed canteen as well as be a visual setting conducive for shooting.
That way, Mr. Parente said, "you get to have the best of both worlds."