NewsPinellas County


Lights, Camera, The Bay? Recent films bring millions into Tampa Bay

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Posted at 6:29 PM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 09:15:43-04

Tampa Bay's beaches, suburbs, downtown areas, and businesses are all coming to the silver screen. Since September 11, filmmakers have chosen this area as the setting for their films on Lifetime and Hallmark.

Each of the films are produced under a partnership with Visit St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg/ Clearwater Film Commission.

Film Commissioner Tony Armer said these movies are giving back to the community in many ways.

"It's been awesome to put local actors to work, local crew to work, all the people that are involved, all the local businesses. So just really excited to have these 11 films here to really support the economy and support the industry," said Armer.

The films have funneled millions of dollars into the community.

"It's been several million dollars in economic impact being brought into the area. That's a direct spend, and then those people are going out there buying groceries and paying their mortgage and their rent and their bills. That funnels out throughout the rest of the economy as well. So it's really been a multi-million dollar impact for the area," he added.

Despite being a state full of different landscapes and architectures, Florida doesn't offer incentives to filmmakers statewide. Still, filmmakers said it's a great location for movies.

“You can't make other places look like Florida, but you can make Florida look like other places," said producer Danny Roth.

Luckily for Roth, Tampa Bay counties are welcoming movies. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties offer a $10 cash back incentive to filmmakers when they spend money locally. But to make a movie here and get that incentive, the film has to also be set in Tampa Bay and feature local businesses in Tampa Bay.

That's how Jeffrey Bakshis continues to find his business, Keystone Farmers Market, transformed into a movie set.

"We never imagined that we would become part of Hollywood productions," Bakshis said.

This is the third time the business has been featured prominently in a film.

"We were really fortunate that the producer is a local and has been driving past. He reached out to a mutual friend here in the community that put us in touch, and it's worked out great," Bakshis said. "It's been a tremendous opportunity to work with them and get some exposure for local agriculture and our farm and farmers market."

He's not the only business owner seeing benefits.

"It's tremendous. I know I've heard from other small business owners in the area in Pinellas County, especially that having the movies here has brought a lot of business and a lot of commerce and it helps to put us on the map," Bakshis said.

On Wednesday, principal photography for "Project Baby" wrapped. It's actress Haylie Duff's directorial debut. She said this community was the perfect setting for the film.

"I think you read a script, and you think, 'Well, gosh, I'd love it to look like this or you imagine,' you know? When you're shortlisting what the scene is going to require, you think, 'Oh, I want it to have like a sidewalk like this and trees that look like that, you know?' And so I just feel like we found all those things here," she said.

Viewers will see shots of Gulfport's art deco buildings, farms and schools in Largo, and more.

Danny Roth said this wouldn't be the last of his films putting Tampa Bay on the map.

"This should not be the end for me. We are hopeful to be back the next couple of months for another stretch," Roth said.