The Orlando Film Commission, a division of the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC), is celebrating its 30-year anniversary as the region’s only one-stop shop for the thriving local film industry. The Film Commission, a core function of the EDC since 1986, operates as the liaison between production companies and city, county and state governments. The Film Commission also promotes the four-county region of Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole and the City of Orlando as a premier production community.
The anniversary comes on the heels of one of the Film Commission’s most successful years in more than a decade with a sharp increase of 73 percent in permitted production days over the prior fiscal year. There were 745 permitted days between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016 with 70 percent of the projects reporting over $10 million in local economic impact in the region.
“It was an exceptional year for the Orlando film community, there is no doubt about it,” said Sheena Fowler, director of the Orlando Film Commission. “We continue to see strong activity in our market with numerous projects, primarily commercials, being permitted every week despite the image that our state is closed for business because of the lack of a film incentive,” she adds.
Current projects being filmed in the region include Super Bowl LI commercials for a variety of companies which are employing hundreds of local crew for production.
”While incentive programs are of great value and continue to entice producers to try new locations, bottom line is – Central Florida is and will continue to be a sustaining production center in the U.S. We are clearly well served with state-of-the-art facilities, production crews, services and vendors and are not dependent solely on these programs for the future,” said Pamela Tuscany, vice president and general manager for Universal Studios Florida Group in Orlando, which has operated one of the largest theatrical and television production facilities in the Southeast since 1988.
Orlando’s filmography includes such memorable scenes as the explosion of the former city hall building seen in the Lethal Weapon 3 film starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in 1991, the record-breaking independent film Blair Witch Project in 1991, and more recently the film Tomorrowland starring George Clooney in 2015.
The Film Commission’s role is to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for productions while also working to make the overall permitting process as un-complicated as possible for the local jurisdictions. The Film Commission also maintains a crew and vendor database, manages a digital location library, and works to unite the production community within the region and state by serving on the Film Florida Board of Directors.
“Orlando’s strength as a film community has led to several accolades including Orlando’s rank, two years in a row, by Moviemaker Magazine as one of the top ten cities in America to live and work as a filmmaker,” said Crystal Sircy, executive vice president of the Orlando Economic Development Commission. “We are proud of that distinction and will continue to offer services that support this thriving industry in our region.”
Strong educational programs with a focus on film and digital media in the region’s colleges and universities like University of Central Florida, Valencia College, and Full Sail University fuel the need for new talent. Company’s like Oracle, Electronic Arts Tiburon and Gold Channel help employee more than 30,000 employees with an average yearly wage of $70,000.