Film productions soar 60% in 'golden age' in Miami
By Ashley Hopkins
As Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez pushes the county film office under the Office of Economic Development and International Trade umbrella, film officials say the show must, and will, go on. Production this year is already up 60%.
It's going on big time as well under the City of Miami's new film and cultural affairs head, who says Miami has entered a golden age of film production.
When Jeff Peel, county film and entertainment head, retired in June, Tony Ojeda, Economic Development and International Trade director, began to oversee filming. A preliminary budget Mr. Gimenez proposed in July consolidates film with economic development, minus a film director. Should the commission in September approve that merger, Mr. Ojeda said, he'd continue to oversee film work.
That consolidation could add office staffing and support, Mr. Ojeda said, so film marketing shouldn't be reduced as long as state incentives remain strong.
State film incentives for work in Miami-Dade, according to Lucia Fishburne, state film commissioner, as of July 1 provide up to $8 million for general productions costing at least $625,000, up to $500,000 a year to support commercial or music video productions costing at least $500,000 a year, and up to $125,000 for independent and digital media productions costing $100,000 to $625,000.
From January to August nearly $170 million in state incentives flowed through Miami-Dade to support filming, Mr. Ojeda said, making a $1.19 billion impact in the county and increasing production 60%.
"I'll continue to market the film office with same aggressiveness," Mr. Ojeda said, in a merger geared to reduce government size while maximizing resources. "The important thing is that in the proposed budget and in the consolidation… [the film office] will get more support rather than less support."
Filming efforts just returned on the city level.
When ex-manager Tony Crapp Jr. on Jan. 1 fired Harry Gottlieb, Film and Cultural Affairs Office director, officials combed through 220 applications to fill the job. Six months after Mr. Gottlieb left, Rob Feldman, a former production executive for Sony Pictures Television, was named city film industry liaison.
As Sony vice president of international production, Mr. Feldman oversaw production in 20 countries. He produced, wrote and directed documentaries for the History Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and Discovery.
In his second month on the job, Mr. Feldman said filming in Miami has never been busier, as major production companies are making both feature films and television shows.
ABC recently wrapped up a Miami remake of Charlie's Angels, to hit airwaves Sept. 22. Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige and other A-list stars are hitting Miami streets to film Rock of Ages for June 2012 release. Magic City, a 10-episode series centering on Miami's 1950 mob scene, is to air in 2012 on Starz.
Mr. Feldman said that should the city continue to dedicate funds to film, such growth should continue.
"It's never been busier," he said. "This is the golden age of production."
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