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Ybor passed up for fake set in movie

Posted: 5:10 PM, Sep 29, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-29 17:10:32-04

Ybor City is known for its heritage but apparently it’s not good enough for a new movie Ben Affleck is filming about the Latin District.

Instead of filming in Tampa, set designers are building a fake Ybor City in Georgia and one of the main is reasons, is because they didn’t get the financial support needed from the the Florida legislature.

The movie “Live by Night” set for release in 2017 will instead be filmed just outside of Brunswick, Georgia. Set designers are building a fake set of the cigar rolling capital depicting Ybor during the prohibition.

The movie is based off a book by former Tampa writer Dennis Lehane.    

“To build a fake one you’re missing out on all the beauty that is Ybor,” said Tampa resident Jeff Gallegos.

Tampa-Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commissioner Dale Gordon says it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity Ybor City missed. A missed opportunity now providing Georgia with jobs and economic growth we could have had here.  

“We’re basically giving jobs to Georgia, and the only reason this project is not filming in Ybor City is because we lack state investment,” said Gordon. Another benefit for filming in Georgia is because its close to where Affleck lives. 

When he toured Ybor in 2013 film tax incentives were here. They were all part of $296 million for movies shot in Florida between 2010 and 2016, but those contracts were quickly taken by other movies like Dolphin Tale one and two and Magic Mike.

Gordon says she knew the lack of tax incentives could jeopardize the likelihood of a filming here but says she and local leaders pushed regardless.

“We were still working behind the scenes very hard to try and get a portion of it, but it’s definitely salt in the wound,” said Gordon.

Gordon says other movies filmed in the bay area this year were paid for locally. “Both ‘The Infiltrators’ and Tim Burton’s ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,' that were filmed in our market earlier this year were only filmed here because of local incentives,” said Gordon.

State Lawmakers have cut film tax incentives for the past two years. A move Ybor business owner Roberto Torres takes personally.  “You start with anger and then disappointment sets in and then you try to find some sort of silver lining,” said Torres.

“The bottom line is until we have a funded state investment incentive program, Florida will be bypassed for this industry,” said Gordon.  

Gordon says the only way this is going to change is if lawmakers increase the tax incentives to bring the movie business to Tampa. She says this is something she’s going to be pushing hard for this legislative session.