There’s nothing quite like seeing the Sunshine State on screen.
“There’s no doubt about it, locations are Florida’s calling card,” said John Lux, executive director of Film Florida, who added that the state is “a bit of a one-stop shop.” when it comes to unique environments for filming.
“The great thing about the state of Florida from a location perspective is that it’s so diverse…South Florida is wildly different from Northwest Florida. Jacksonville is very different from Naples. The diversity of locations across the state is something very important whether it’s keeping projects here or trying to attract projects from elsewhere,” Lux said.
And while the state has plenty of outdoor locations, which were recently featured in the “Father of the Bride” reboot, which became HBO Max’s most-watched original movie, Florida also has sound stages and world-class technical facilities that make it a natural destination for filmmakers.
Anne Russell, program director of the Film Production MFA at Full Sail University, said filmmakers across the country use Winter Park University’s facilities to film big projects like the Disney+ streaming series “The Right Stuff” and feature films “9 Windows” and “The Shark”, the latter of which was shot almost entirely on Full Sail’s Studio V1 virtual production facility.
“It’s a really exciting time [for filmmakers] to come to Florida, Orlando in particular,” Russell said, adding, “between Universal’s soundstages, our soundstages, and other universities, there’s so much here for professionals coming to town.
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As Florida continues to struggle to attract big-budget filmmakers to the state due to a lack of incentives for production companies in the state, these world-class facilities are helping to elevate budget projects limited, in part due to some big pushes for increased accessibility for independent and student filmmakers, in particular.
“We’re a very movie-friendly city,” Russell said of the greater Orlando area. “Our film commission is a plus. And there are just a lot of resources.
Lux recommends filmmakers planning to shoot a project in the state contact local movie commissioners or liaison officers in the city or county where they are most interested in filming, who can act as free consultants. to ensure they have the resources they need for their projects. He also says that filmmakers can visit filmflorida.org or the State Film Commission’s website, FilminFlorida.com, both of which have comprehensive open-source database location guides available for free.
For those with a small budget to spend, Lux also recommends hiring local scouts and managers. “Although there is a cost involved…they know just about every nook and cranny of the state [and] you can be very efficient with your time this way and say, “Hey, I’m looking for these 10 locations across the state, in South Florida or Central Florida”, and many location managers , in a very short time, would be able to give you a pretty good list of possible resources in terms of locations.
Although Lux said the lack of incentives has been difficult for local industry as big budget projects continue to go to other states, Florida’s incredible facilities and locations have allowed the state to continue despite these challenges, with independent and student projects helping to keep the industry afloat.
“We are certainly not going to be happy not to have [the incentives]. We will continue to grow and strengthen our industry in every way possible and locations are our best selling tool,” he said. “[They] will always be there and we will sell them as much as possible because it is an asset that we have that other states do not have.
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