Filmmakers hope bill could bring production to FL

- The Pinellas County Film Commission says it is optimistic state lawmakers will strike a deal to create tax incentives for filmmakers who choose Florida as their location to film.

Meanwhile, Bay area filmmaker Blesson Mannil is producing a movie at a location in Odessa and says he was able to find enough local talent to film high-quality movies.

He hired 35 people for the production and rented the location from a homeowner in Odessa, who says she wishes she had more potential customers.

"Everybody who comes in here is spending money," homeowner Diane Dyer said. "The people we are working with, they are renting hotels, they are using local caterers. It's important to everybody to keep the money here."

However, a smaller production like Mannil's is much easier to attract than big-budget ones because of how much money filmmakers can save by shooting in states like Georgia or Louisiana.

A Ben Affleck movie about Ybor City - with a crew of 300 - is being shot in Georgia because the state offered about $6 million in incentives.

A new CBS project about military life in Tampa appears to be headed for production in Louisiana.

However, Florida's reputation in the film industry could soon change. 

"This year alone, there are at least three projects that should have been shot here," said Tony Armer, of the Pinellas Film Commission. "They are restructuring the package this year."

Armer refers to a package of incentives wrapped into a larger economic development bill, which has passed two Senate committees.

Approval of the bill may not happen until near the end of the session, and the size of any tax incentives is still in question.

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