Film & TV

Miami Beach Wants to Bring Back the "Sexiness" of the Film Industry

Miami Beach tourism officials want to attract more film crews to the city.
Miami Beach tourism officials want to attract more film crews to the city. Dan Lundberg/Flickr
Over the past few years, Miami Beach has been featured in film projects including The Last Resort, Bad Boys for Life, and, randomly, a Jonas Brothers comeback video. But with Florida's tax incentive project a thing of the past — and states such as Georgia now attracting the lion's share of major productions — Miami Beach officials worry the city has stopped being taken seriously as a filming location.

The city's Tourism and Culture Department wants to change that: In a recently unveiled strategic plan, the department says it hopes to attract more projects by spending at least $21,000 on sizzle reels, a media campaign, and a mixer for the film, television, and photography industries. The plan also calls for the creation of a new event called the Dive Inn Film Festival, which would bring film screenings to the pool decks of famous hotels.

"Miami Beach has not properly promoted itself as a world leader in film, television, and photography, nor has it represented that well to its residents and key stakeholders," the tourism department's plan says. "We have sat on our laurels, and have not continued to promote our successes (past and present)."

From Scarface to Miami Vice to Bloodline, South Florida once had a rich cinematic history. But after the state cut its multimillion-dollar incentive program in 2016, many productions left town. Few new ones replaced them.

Today many movies and TV shows set in Miami shoot only exteriors locally before heading to places with incentive programs to do the majority of filming. Jane the Virgin, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and Grand Hotel are all recent productions that are set in Miami but largely filmed elsewhere.

In 2017, Miami Beach announced its own incentive program. It offers nine $10,000 grants to productions that spend at least $25,000 and three days in the city. A new ABC show, Grand Hotel, was one of the first productions to receive a grant.

But the tourism department says the film industry is unaware of the new incentive program and streamlined permitting process. "The Tourism and Culture Department has lost touch with the industry and needs to work to rebuild that relationship," the strategic plan says. To fix that, officials want to spend $5,000 on a sizzle reel that highlights filming locations in Miami Beach.

They also want to spend another $5,000 to create a sizzle reel for residents and the general population that shows "how film, television, and photography are ingrained in who we are." An additional $3,500 would go toward a campaign to teach residents and the industry about the importance of film and television to quality of life, brand awareness, and economic impact.

Meanwhile, the industry mixer would cost around $7,500 and would give the city an opportunity to promote its incentive program and other initiatives. The Dive Inn Film Festival would carry a price tag of about $100,000, but the tourism department would look for grants to fund it.

"We have lost the allure and sexiness of the industry in our city (international film festivals, movie premieres, etc.)," the strategic plan says.

The city's production industry council signed off on the plan earlier this month. It now needs approval from the mayor and commission.
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Brittany Shammas is a former staff writer at Miami New Times. She covered education in Naples before taking a job at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She joined New Times in 2016.
Contact: Brittany Shammas