ORLANDO, Fla. - A bill that would attract filmmakers to Florida was approved during a Florida Senate committee meeting with lawmakers on Monday.
Film advocates say it could bring back thousands of jobs to Florida during the pandemic.
If you’re watching more entertainment at home, whether you’re channel surfing or using streaming services, you’re not alone. Executive Director of Film Florida John Lux says the demand is greater than ever.
"The more content we can produce here in the State of Florida, the more money we’re going to get into the economy," Lux said.
However, Lux said there are currently no tax incentives to film in Florida, so crews often to go Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas instead.
"So, we just want to compete and if we know we can compete, we’re going to be able to do great things for Florida’s economy," Lux explained.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a rebate for companies that film here.
Co-sponsor Senator Linda Stewart believes it has a good chance of passing this year because of the pandemic.
"Different types of movies and sitcoms. Everything we see on TV, we need to have it here," she said.
She says a film, TV, and digital media-targeted rebate program would require a company to come up with the money to hire locals and invest in the community.
"Sixty percent of the cast and crew have to be Florida residents, so we’re providing these jobs for Floridians," Stewart said.
According to Film Florida, the state has lost more than 70 major film and television projects that would have spent more than $1.3 billion in Florida.
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Lux said that could change with the rebate program, citing that "they’re gonna spend more than $20 million in that local area."
"So is now the time to grab this opportunity?" asked FOX 35 reporter Valerie Boey.
Lux responded, "now is absolutely the time to capitalize on this."
By restarting the film and entertainment industry, he said it will help the tourism industry.
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"Help tourism by putting the state on the big, and small mobile screens, as well with unemployment, high wage jobs. When people see things on film and television, studies show that tourists follow," he said.
The bill still needs to pass two more committees before it heads to the floor for a vote.
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