Business isn’t booming. Miami’s film industry has declined drastically, as it’s unable to surpass states who bear more reasonable tax incentives. In the 90’s, Miami’s movie production was at it’s climax, generating the nickname “Hollywood East.” A decade later, this wasn’t the case anymore. Canada began to offer low currency exchange rates and high incentives, attracting production companies looking for modest prices. In return, most of the U.S. matched these rates and were able to bring business back. Florida was one of the few states that was unable to. Recent movies and series that are set in Florida end up being shot in other states, like Georgia. “We got two weeks instead of two months with those movies,” said Graham Winick, film and event production manager for the city of Miami Beach and former president of Film Florida, a nonprofit group designed to help these industries. Production companies spend only a few weeks here, focusing on external shots, and then move to other states. Since 2010, the state has lost more than $235 million in revenue, a drop of about 50%. Florida legislators voted to not pass a bill that would allot up to $20 million for the film-and-entertainment tax incentives, a program that has run out of funds. In 2010, this same program had $300 million in tax credits set aside for television, film, and video production. If sixty percent of the cast/crew came to Florida and the film finished production here, the money would be given. What was supposed to last 5 years, ended in 3. Miami-Dade County’s Regulatory and Economic Resources Department reported that during the years the program lasted, 4,900 new jobs were created, with $20 million in state revenues, $471 million in additional GRP, and $249 million in incomes for local households. Even with these successes, legislators haven’t budged with their decisions. Rolando Aedo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, said “The main hurdle for the tax incentive is that you are dealing with a generally conservative Legislature — both Democrat and Republican — that is philosophically opposed to incentives. When they receive a report on the return on their investments under the current program, those numbers don’t include intangibles such as tourism.” Legislators also voted to get rid of half the staff at the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment. These are only some of the decisions that have pushed crews, and other media content related companies, to relocate.
Our company, Trade Audio, was interviewed back in 2017 by the Miami Herald to discuss these issues. Like the revenue, our business had dropped more than 50%. In the article “Paradise Lost?” written by Rene Rodriguez, owner Juan Carlos Alvarez mentions “If I only relied on film work, I’d be closed right now.” Since our peak years of 1994-2005, rental services have expanded past just walkie talkies. “We’ve had to adopt other strategies outside of movies and become more aggressive in doing walkie talkie repairs for other companies and working with other vendors.” Although we have provided radios for movies, like “Iron Man 3,” “Charlie’s Angels,” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” we’ve had to grow our customer base. We now supply walkies to patrons such as catering companies, photographers, music festivals, and schools. We also began selling walkie talkies and other related equipment. To stay afloat in this business, we’ve had to become creative. As a small company, it was an honor to be mentioned in the second largest newspaper in South Florida. It shows that yes, business has declined, and yet we’ve been able to persevere. How? It’s simple. We value our customers more than the earnings we get in return.