ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The St. Pete-Clearwater Film Commission is making big moves this year, with 2019 setting a new standard for film projects in Pinellas County.
“Building up to seeing this kind of success has been a long time coming,” said Film Commissioner Tony Armer, who stepped into this position five years ago. “There’s a long timeline when it comes to films happening so it’s really a culmination on the previous three to five years of work. It can sometimes take a project 10 years to come to fruition.”
This year, the film commission saw its highest number of projects permitted: 250. That’s an increase of 43 projects since 2018.
Armer says the total number of hours spent filming during the 2019 fiscal year amounted to 941 days. The commission also helped bring $13.8 million to the local economy – its highest locally-spent amount since the “Dolphin Tale” films.
Here are the projects that the St. Pete-Clearwater Film Commission facilitated last year:
- 15 feature films
- 19 TV shows
- 19 reality TV shows
- 71 commercials
- 54 still photography projects
Here’s a look at how the St. Pete-Clearwater Film Commission has impacted the community during its record-breaking fiscal year. Hover over the bars to see the exact numbers.
Number of projects
Hotel room stays
People employedSource: St. Pete-Clearwater Film Commission
Armer says the years-long process to bring film companies to Pinellas County starts, in many cases, in places like Berlin.
“There are four major film markets, which is where a lot of the buying and selling of films and the deals are done,” Armer said. “Each of these film markets is trade shows essentially and a big part of our strategy has been to be in film markets to meet and network with other people in the industry.”
Direct calls do make up a portion of the projects filmed here, Armer says. For the projects that call for Florida’s scenery, Tampa is a less expensive option, offering incentives like no permit fees and a 10 percent rebate on any money that’s spent locally.
Such perks of filming projects in Pinellas County tend to bring in independent filmmakers, with projects at $2 million or under but that could be changing in 2020.
In the future, Armer says big things are coming to St. Pete.
“‘Zola,’ which was shot here and backed by the company that created the film ‘Moonlight,'” Armer said. “It’s going to be shown at Sundance this year, so we have some big companies taking notice of the benefits of working in this area.”
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