HCP deployed several methodologies to capture quantitative and qualitative feedback regarding the Film and Digital Media industry within Tampa Bay and the state of Florida. For many industry professionals, the leading concern was securing a new incentive program from the state government. Indeed, when the state legislature decided to allow Florida’s film incentives to expire in 2016, film retreated from the region. According to one estimate by Film Florida, over the past three years, Florida lost more than 50 major movies and well over $1.8 billion due to the lack of incentives. Our longitudinal analysis of the industry from the early 1900s illustrates how the Film and Digital Media in Florida underwent several phases of growth without the presence of government incentives.
Tampa Bay’s Film and Digital Media industry continues to grow, primarily supported by the demand for commercial productions in the area. Professionals from around the state agree that Tampa Bay is a unique market for commercial productions and has a lot to offer filmmakers, crews, and talent. In 2019 alone, commercial productions accounted for a third of all projects to receive permits for production, with local spending reaching over $4.8 million. Indeed, because of the lack of reporting and permitting requirements for commercial productions, these estimates are considered severely understated. For the community of Tampa Bay, a successful Film and Digital Media industry supports economic growth, instills pride in the community, and impacts the region’s very culture.
Incentives are unlikely to return to Florida anytime soon. Fortunately, commercial productions are incredibly incentive-independent. Our research spoke to over 20 regional and national production companies, agencies, and other industry leaders; because of the concentration of commercial productions, most did not rely on incentives, and some had never bothered attempting to obtain them.
Another facet of Film and Digital Media in Tampa Bay is the industry’s ability to act as a great tourist attraction tool for the region, in a phenomenon known as film-induced tourism. Film-induced tourism is a form of cultural tourism where tourists visit a specific destination or attraction due to the destination’s feature and image on television, video (including music video), or movies. Tampa Bay’s own Dolphin Tale (2011) and Dolphin Tale 2 (2014) are perfect examples of this trend. Only a year after the first movie’s release, a USF-St. Petersburg College of Business study found that approximately 73% of tourists visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium are influenced by the Dolphin Tale. The study also forecasted that, by 2016, the movie would yield a local economic impact of $5 billion, compounding the initial effects brought on by the movie filming in the region.
Our findings suggested key factors that significantly impact market demand, highlighting both Tampa Bay’s strengths as a community and areas of deficiency beyond incentives. Recommendations were made and under review.