Film Florida taking state prod’n reins

FFCA disbanding to make room for new org

MIAMI — Having helped build statewide TV and film production into a $1.3 billion industry, the Florida Film Commissioners Assn. is disbanding to make way for the broader-based org Film Florida.

Founding directors say Film Florida will both market the state as a location and function as a lobbying body within Florida.

The initiative follows the near-collapse of unpopular private-public marketing body the Florida Entertainment Industry Council (FEIC), which looks likely to disappear once Gov. Lawton Chiles leaves office at the end of the year.

“The industry has never had a major voice. The FEIC was a small group hand-picked by the governor. It conducted closed meetings, and it spent most of its time fighting off lawsuits,” said Jeff Peel, Film Florida chairman and film commish for Miami.

Off to good start

Film Florida’s “big tent” approach got off to a good start earlier this month, when it helped establish a state-wide labor council (Daily Variety, Aug. 6), and this week it is retaining Susan Simms as Florida’s L.A.-based liaison.

Peel said the org has the modest goal of a $100,000 first-year budget, and said he will be meeting today in Orlando with reps from Disney World and Universal Studios Florida — both of which have substantial production facilities — to encourage their participation.

Hot prod’n year

Florida production is hotter than ever this year, thanks to the ABC hit “Maximum Bob,” TV projects from Barry Diller (WAMI in Miami) and Bud Paxson (Pax Net), and films including “There’s Something About Mary” and Oliver Stone’s “On Any Given Sunday.”

Film Florida’s other founding directors are former FFCA prez Beverly Fox, film commish for Southwest Florida, and Jennifer Parramore, commissioner for St. Petersburg.

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