RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Many people talk a lot about Florida's tourism, but what really lures people to the Sunshine State? Florida's film and production industry.
Cities like Miami claim they offer "the best movie set" luring tourists, transplants and big revenue. But there are millions in revenue happening in Palm Beach County as well.
Horses and U.S. Polo Assn. models on the sand aren't something you see every day in Riviera Beach. But when you're Allan Ramos, location manager for MS4 productions, Florida offers a great backdrop no matter where you are.
"We do maybe 150 to 200 television commercials and photo shoots a year," Ramos said. "It's aesthetics, environment, nature — a jurisdiction that's 'film friendly.' And they're supporting in the process of permitting you to get it cleared to do it."
Sources like Zippia rank Florida 16th for film producers and the economic impact for Palm Beach County is hundreds of millions.
"About 15 years ago, we ranked No. 3 — right behind California and New York," said Michelle Hillery, Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission deputy film commissioner. "Just about a $200 million a year industry here in Palm Beach County. Our office facilities (work on) close to 300 permits on an annual basis and an additional 250 projects that didn't actually need a permit."
This is why the county's film and television commission are supporters of Florida House Bill 217, an incentive program for the film, television and digital media industry filed in September.
"Florida is only one of 17 states in this country that doesn't have one," Hillery said.
In the interim, the commission is also accepting submissions for the 27th annual Palm Beaches Student Showcase of Films. The largest statewide film competition open for currently enrolled high school and college students.
A diversity report shows 25% of all applications came from minority predominate schools — 106 out of 431.
Moreover, 35% of the student finalists between 2010 to 2021 represented diversity growth —109 of 315.
- Male – 54%
- Female – 46%
- White – 66%
- Hispanic – 17%
- Black – 10%
- Asian and other non-white – 7%
Submissions are accepted until Jan. 22, 2022.
Hillery said the investment boosts Florida's tourism and a high skilled, more diversified workforce.
"Giving over $1.6 million in scholarships and awards every single year is the heart and joy of what we do at the film commission, and it is our signature education outreach program," Hillery said. "We've done studies before that show 100% of those students who have won or been a finalist in the student showcase of films are still actively involved in the film and television industry. That is extremely promising for us."