By Erika Webb
The Creative Industry Alliance did not receive the entire County Council's blessing as the designated film office for Volusia County.
At its regular meeting Jan. 9, the council voted 4-3 to table the matter indefinitely.
Community Services Director Dave Byron presented an overview of what other counties in the state do to accommodate filmmakers and he offered some questions for the council's consideration.
His research extended to several counties throughout the state using film commissions to attract productions and support the existing production infrastructure. Among them: Orange, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Sarasota and Pinellas.
"Orange pays the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida $602,617 annually for economic development services that include promotion of Orange County to the motion picture and television industry as a location for production," Mr. Byron noted in his report.
The Florida Office of Film and Entertainment administers the Florida Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program with funds totaling $296 million, Mr. Byron reported.
Who would fund and sanction a local film office? How much would the budget be? How do cities and tourism authorities fit in? Who applies the community standards test?
There must be "some type" of philosophy on film production, Mr. Byron explained, noting a philosophy also must be established on use of public facilities, such as DeLand's old courthouse.
Aesthetically and historically appealing to filmmakers, the building continues in operation for county business. Major logistical adjustments would be necessary to house film production personnel and related activities.
"It's a game changer for Volusia County," said Creative Industry Alliance President Giuli Schacht in a telephone interview prior to the meeting.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported the creative industry sector -- arts and cultural production -- accounted for 3.2 percent -- or $504 billion -- of Gross Domestic Product in 2011, Ms. Schacht told the council.
"We believe economic development around this industry sector can be significant," she said.
The film industry not only introduces movies and television to cities and surrounding areas, she added. It necessitates advertising, architecture, art design, fashion, Internet design and technology, entertainment distribution, research development, performing arts, software, publishing, radio, music, toys and video games while supporting education, products and services.
Creative Industry Alliance is looking for expedited permitting for film-related operations and a media industry coordinator in Volusia County, Ms. Schacht explained.
County Chair Jason Davis asked Ms. Schacht how much money was spent in New Smyrna Beach during filming of "Tomorrowland."
"I was told by the location manager that they spent $1 million in three days," Ms. Schacht said.
Councilman Doug Daniels asked County Manager Jim Dinneen to ensure the county stops dragging its feet through the permitting process.
"I'm not in favor of spending a penny more," Mr. Daniels said.
Councilwoman Pat Northey expressed concern over potential conflicts of interest with one entity developing business and coordinating permitting.
In 2011, Ms. Schacht produced a flash mob at the Daytona 500.
When 50 percent of her budget "fell out" three weeks before she had to move 600 people and 37 crewmembers, she approached the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau film office.
"I said 'I need to know who's around here. I cannot afford to bring people in from out of town,'" Ms. Schacht explained. "They said 'no one's here.'"
She immediately posted on professional boards where she found 34 of the 37 people she needed for her crew in the area.
They were here, Ms. Schacht said, working as bartenders and waiters. Some were working outside Volusia.
She asked the crew she assembled why the film office didn't know they were here.
They said they'd been told Volusia County had no interest in filmmaking.
"I would think that this is an enormous opportunity. It's a major private sector employer," Ms. Schacht said. "It has 1.9 million jobs and $104 billion in wages in 2011 in the United States."
Movies bring glitz, but television shows and commercials are the bread and butter, she explained.
The Creative Industry Alliance was instrumental in attracting Deadliest Catch Producer Doug Stanley to Volusia, Ms. Schacht said, adding, the producer of top shows for FOX, ABC, Animal Planet and Country Music Television is set to return for his fourth visit and is considering Daytona Beach as the location of two reality television shows.
Arnette Sherman, a Realtor who lives in DeLand, serves on the executive board for MainStreet DeLand Association.
She spoke on behalf of Creative and the film industry's potential contribution.
"I believe it would showcase our area, which I think we all agree, we live in a great place and it would be nice to share it with the world," Mrs. Sherman said.
Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk, Orange City Mayor Tom Laputka and DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar all were present at the meeting.
Mayor Apgar said the City of DeLand supports Creative, saying there needs to be "one centralized point of contact."
"A lot of logistics are involved in these productions," he said.
Councilman Josh Wagner said he thinks the council can support the concept.
"For me it's time," Councilman Wagner said. "I think these types of commissions are the way it should be handled."
Funding is only part of the equation, he said, adding the funding mechanism is already in place.
Phone calls, permitting, security and policing is a process that county staff cannot take on, although he said cities and the county should be unified in playing their roles.
"Everything should be done systematically and right now it's not," Councilman Wagner said.
"Right now we are not business friendly. "It's not government's fault."
Councilman Wagner said he thinks a private organization is better equipped than government to be a liaison.
"Please keep going," he advised Ms. Schacht.
Councilwoman Joyce Cusack said resources to back the Creative Alliance and entice producers must be found.
"I am in 100 percent," Councilwoman Cusack said.
"I say we take the lead in creating this industry," she added. "We need to help or get out of the way ... If we don't do this, then shame on us."
"Tomorrowland," the Disney movie starring George Clooney, was landed when producers and location managers couldn't rouse anyone in the county and ended up depending upon Creative Industry Alliance, Ms. Schacht said.
We jumped in and made those meetings happen," she said. "That was a big deal because New Smyrna Beach was in People Magazine."