Bay Area hopes for leading Hollywood role - FOX 13 News

Bay Area hopes for leading Hollywood role

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

There's no doubt that 'Dolphin Tale' made a big splash for the Pinellas County film industry, but the local film boom didn't end there.

The Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Film Commissioner Jennifer Parramore explained, "We have a production manager who worked on 'Dolphin Tale,' who's Florida-based and really had a good experience here. So he has recommended to professional colleagues of his to check out Pinellas County, the St. Pete/Clearwater area and its locations."

From that came more Hollywood productions, like 'Magic Mike.' The film, starring Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum and directed by Stephen Soderberg, was shot locally, in parts of St. Pete and Treasure Island.

Even though the film talks about Tampa, it's actually shot in Pinellas County.

"We've had 'Spring Breakers' now, which is a high-profile independent film that, as you know, has very well known stars associated with it," explained Parramore.

Those stars like Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and James Franco, who shot on location in Sarasota. So what's the magic formula to bringing films to the Bay Area?

"What we have is locations, we have resources, we have equipment houses, we have experienced professional crew," said Parramore.

Most importantly, Pinellas actually has a film commission.

"We have two people here who are committed full-time to selling the area and providing the production support that a production needs when they come here."

That includes everything from permitting to finding crews, which is the reason why filmmaker Curtis Graham has produced four films in the past five years, right here in the Bay Area.

"Couple of years ago we shot 'Glass Window', which we needed an urban setting, and it was very important and the only place we could find was Tampa, that had that kinda urban, high rise feeling to it, right? And without the Tampa Film Commission that was there then, we probably couldn't have done that," said Graham.

However, now that Tampa no longer has an actual film commissioner, "I don't utilize those services, it's pretty simple," he explained.

It's a huge concern, says Steve Hayes, the vice president of industry relations with Tampa Bay and Company. "It does not give us all the guns we need to go out and get that business."

Which is one of the reasons the county granted Tampa Bay and Company half a million dollars to try and ramp up the local film industry. So will they once again have a film commissioner?

"I think it's fair to say that," said Hayes.

The state of Florida offers enticing tax incentives. For filmmakers, Pinellas offers the services they need.

"A couple of crew members that came from L.A. have actually moved here," said Graham.

Hayes says while Pinellas has the beautiful beaches, Tampa also has a unique setting to offer.

"I think from a cinematography aspect, you have everything here. You want the rural look of Florida, you've got that right here in Hillsborough County, but you want that historic Latin feel, you've got that in Ybor City, but you want that really dynamic business community, you've got that in Tampa and you add in all those other hidden gems with that and that's what you have here."

They're also hoping exposure from the RNC will make Tampa a more desirable shooting location.

Hayes said, "When you go through and you're broadcasting probably from Harbour Island, looking over towards the Forum over to the convention center, that's gonna be a very dynamic shot and that's something that hopefully someone'll look at say, 'well maybe that's something I can use for'... fill in the blank."

Hopefully filling in the void that Tampa has felt from the recent movie madness.

"Magic Mike' finished number two in the box office last weekend. Pinellas County hopes its popularity will bring even more films to our area.

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