Miami-Dade County Approves Film Incentive Program

Jul 19, 2017

Film and TV productions will get some incentives to shoot in Miami-Dade County. A stop-gap county-based program hopes to plug some of the hole created by the state’s refusal to implement its own Florida-wide benefits.

In a unanimous vote after almost all commissioners asked to be added as co-sponsors, the board of county commissioners approved a plan that would give $100,000 tax rebates to film productions that can show they have spent at least $1 million in the county.

Read more: Miami-Dade County Wants To Set Up Its Own Film Incentive Program To Counter Lack Of State Funding

The measure passed to rousing applause from audience members wearing white, loosely symbolizing the raising of the white flag.

“Maybe they didn’t understand the process with the vote that was just taken: The film incentive bill just passed. So thank you all for coming; go to work,” said bill sponsor Commissioner Sally Heyman to the group when the measure's passage was initially met without reaction.

"It's me, myself and I who read every script, so I'm going to be really busy, but we're excited about it" - Sandy Lighterman, Miami-Dade County film commissioner.

The Miami-Dade program will implement stiff local hiring requirements in order for a production to draw down the tax incentives. For example, at least 50 Miami-Dade residents must be hired as cast or crew for the days they film in the county, at least 80 percent of hired vendors must be businesses registered in the county and at least 70 percent of the entire production must be produced or filmed in the county.

Other requirements and the process for applying and receiving the benefits will still need to be drawn up by the mayor's office or the Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment.

“We’re going to be busy,” said Sandy Lighterman, the county’s film commissioner. “It’s me, myself and I who read every script, so I’m going to be really busy, but we’re excited about it.”

The Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment will start taking applications Aug. 1 and it will likely take a few months for the first few productions to go through the vetting, grants agreement negotiations and presentation to the County Commission for final approval. But Lighterman says she has heard from industry executives in Los Angeles who have said this film incentive program puts the area back on the list of desirable spaces for filming.

“Every little bit counts,” said Lighterman. “For smaller productions like the 'Moonlights' of the world, this is a godsend.”

“[This money] is necessary. Unfortunately, we have to pick up where the state left off,” she added.

The state doled out roughly $300 million in incentives starting in 2010, but the lLegislature has been reluctant to refill those coffers when the money ran out. In the absence of a state program, counties like Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Duval  have set up their own program.

The Miami-Dade ordinance cited a Visit Florida study from 2012 that found 23 percent of people interviewed said that a movie or television show featuring Florida helped in their choice to come to the state.

Miami Beach is considering a similar approach to bring productions to the area.

Local industry professionals have seen productions go to less expensive places like Puerto Rico for filming “Miami” scenes or to states like Georgia, which has a large film incentive program.

“Were excited our crew might [now] be able to stay here and some might be able to come back from Georgia,” said Sandy Lighterman.