TAMPA (FOX 13) - Another missed opportunity for the Florida film industry will soon hit theaters nationwide.
The movie "Gifted", about a single man (Chris Evans) raising a child (McKenna Grace), is set in St. Petersburg, Florida, but the movie was filmed in Georgia.
Screenwriter Tom Flynn, who lives in St. Petersburg, said he based the movie off his gifted sister and two nieces. He always pictured it being filmed in his city.
"It was originally written as St. Petersburg. It has a lot of sites in it. You're going to see Ferg's Bar, you know, Mark Ferguson's Bar. You're going to see that, but in Savannah, dressed up," said Flynn.
Since Florida lawmakers put a stop to offering film incentives, productions, like "Gifted", have been forced to head north in search of a better deal.
According to Georgia's Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, last year 245 film and TV productions were shot in Georgia. The productions generated $7.2 billion for the state.
"The saddest thing was watching them painting 'Pinellas School District' on the buses that were going to pick up the child and see them recreate the courthouse. It was kind of sad to see Pinellas County everywhere and not have it actually be here," said Flynn, who heavily scouted out the Tampa Bay area, along with the film's director, before Georgia ultimately won their business.
Tony Armer, who heads the Film Commission of St Petersburg/Clearwater, was one of many people who filled the theater at AMC Westshore in Tampa on Monday night for a screening of "Gifted".
Amer said for more than a year, he made trips to Los Angeles, trying to convince filmmakers that St Petersburg was the best place for their production.
"I know the budget of the film was around $15 million dollars, and they would have spent at least $10 million of that locally shooting the film," said Armer.
According to Armer, the Film Commission of St Petersburg offered about $200,000 in incentives to try to lure the film, but the offer paled in comparison to the nearly $3 million the state of Georgia brought to the table.
He said film productions benefit the local economy in multiple ways for months, even years, at a time.
"They're not only booking hotel rooms and eating at the restaurants, but they're shopping at all the local businesses, there's a church that they're going to use for parking and catering, so they're going to pay a rental fee to that church. There are so many other things that go into it," said Armer.
Armer said he is hopeful that lawmakers in Florida will reconsider the current lack of incentives and realize how much the state is losing out on each year incentives are not offered.
"Maybe when there's some new leadership and some changes that are made, we'll become the great filming state of Florida again," said Armer.
"Gifted" is set to hit theaters across Tampa Bay on Friday, April 21.